In recent months, a great deal has been said in media and in conversation about women in leadership positions. In my recent Ask Me Anything (“AMA”), I was asked several times about the subject.
I love the idea of female leaders, and I am proud of the great examples we have today and throughout history. Women often make excellent leaders in many spheres of life, including business and politics, and they are often leaders in the home in many ways. The home-makers are often the unsung heroes, and I wish everyone reading this to pause and reflect on the influence that they’ve had in your life. Though home-makers are not always mothers or women in the household, they most often are. They are the real pillars of society. I’m talking about the ones who stay up late with those who have fevers, the ones who give up their personal needs and goals to care for others; the ones who work long hours cleaning, cooking, driving, taking care of the “little things” that amount to everything in the grand scheme of things. The ones that make “home” a sanctuary from the world.
It’s perhaps harder to convince society of the worth I see in home-makers, and perhaps an easier battle can be won by highlighting women in traditional spheres of leadership. The kind that the colder world seems to recognize. They are not less valuable because they’ve followed the path that gets more recognition. And in some ways, they have earned a different but similar kind of glory. They have fought the world on its own terms and won. They’ve succeeded in this so-called “man’s world” and defied its description. They’ve put cracks in the “glass ceiling,” as some call it today.
But in my opinion, it is the feminine woman who keeps this world turning, whether or not she is a home-maker or a CEO, or a head of state. We have never needed permission from men to be leaders, and we’ve never needed to be like men to be powerful in any sense. There are so many shining examples for ambitious women to look up to.
I am inspired to start a series of articles highlighting feminine leaders around the world, and throughout history. Women who serve as good examples of strength and femininity in leadership positions.
But before I begin highlighting women in particular, I would like to say a word about women and leadership.
I found a recent article on the website LeadershipWithSass.com quite inspiring. You can find it here:
It’s called “The Importance of Leading with Your Head and Your Heart.” I find that a lot of women carry the stigma, and many hold the assumption, that women lead primarily with their hearts. That is to say, that they are often overly emotional. This article describes this leadership style as “basing their decisions on whether or not someone’s feelings may get hurt.” This style of leadership has it’s strengths. As the article states, it “often results in the leader avoiding conflict” and makes them good at “motivating the team.” But when only the heart is the guide, it often leads to disorganization, and a lack of direction and strategy.
Leaders who lead with “the head,” are understood to be good at “creating a strategy and a plan, setting goals, following a budget, and holding their team accountable to the plan’s action and processes.” But sometimes “head only” leaders lack the personal touch and aren’t as good at conflict resolution and motivation. The author states that “Leading with your heart is about care and connection,” while “Leading with your head is about competence and knowledge.”
I believe the heart is a great strength with women. Creating and nurturing relationships is a great power of theirs and they naturally excel at it—perhaps much more than men in many cases. Some say women are not often not inclined to lead with the head, and I think this is sometimes true. Perhaps it is common enough that it should not be a surprise that many simply assume it of female leaders. It is often said of men that leading with the head is a great strength of theirs, and I suppose there is a lot of evidence of this, though I think history provides ample proof that men are often led by other parts of their anatomy as well.
I’m not trying to impugn men as leaders—indeed, society owes a great debt to some of our better men in society.
I do believe there is a tendency for women to lead from the heart, and for men to lead from the head, but I believe just as firmly that both men and women can balance the two to become better leaders. And I know for a certainty that mature and feminine women are some of the most powerful people in any society, whether or not they are blessed with the official powers of a corporation or government, because they have a strength for caring about individuals: how they feel and what they think.
In my new book, scheduled to be available in early 2017, I have a chapter that discusses the male and female brains, their strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. And I discuss techniques for achieving that balance we should all strive for. In the case of my book, I discuss this issue from a female’s perspective. I hope you will read it and share it with other women when it becomes available.
And so, with that in mind, and as a prelude to future articles about great female leaders, I hope you will think about your own leadership style, when it is thrust upon you, and I to think of great women in history who exemplify this head and heart balance that I have discussed: women who have managed to harness their God-given talents and to learn new ones to become powerful leaders!