It can be difficult for leaders to keep up with the often hectic and fast-paced modern global economy. With so much competition, and the constant need for more, leaders don’t have the time or luxury to be a visionary or risk making mistakes. Bringing more women into leadership is key to ensuring diversity and to level the playing field.
During the filming of the Documentary, I was able to speak with Shree Paradkar, a journalist for the Toronto Star, to discuss her thoughts on leadership and the role that women play. When Shree was younger, her only options were to become an engineer or a doctor. Neither appealed to her, but when she heard about journalism, she felt an instant fit. She felt that journalists of integrity were needed, and that they play a big role in democracy, particularly in this world full of social media and citizen journalism.
According to Ms. Paradkar, the level of compassion from leaders has changed as we have progressed into the 21st century. Global leaders, who tend to be political leaders, and corporate leaders alike now use numbers as the marker of success.
The bottom line, profits, and producing more with less are rewarded, while personal barometers of success like happiness or growth are passed by.
Leaders should stop and take a pause. What vision do they want to articulate for the next quarter? The next year? Or the next generation? In today’s world, leaders don’t have the opportunity to be creative and innovative. However, bringing in more diverse leaders can breathe new life into the old way of doing things, and women in particular have a unique perspective to offer.
“When you feel like you are part of a bigger picture, then you are motivated to give it everything you can.”
CAREGIVING HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR LEADERSHIP
Caregiving has almost universally been considered to be the woman’s domain. While fathers certainly should play a role in the rearing of children, women typically do most of the groundwork. Being the nurturer gives women a unique perspective of how to be a compassionate and caring leader. Female leaders seek to include others, looking for differing opinions, and this style of leadership increases the value of the work for those contributing.
In our modern world, men are often criticised for showing too much emotion, but as children, boys and girls should learn to value compassion and love and to treat others with kindness. The qualities that work best for leadership are very often the same qualities that work best as a mother. Organisations that can channel this knowledge will be more diverse and ready to face the challenges of the Imagination Age.
CHANGING THE SYSTEM - BRINGING ON WOMEN
To change how corporations look, we have to change the system at the global scale. Racism and discrimination often occur on a personal level, one on one. Hiring a minority just to fill a quota is not the answer. We should look for the right person for a position, regardless of gender, colour, religion, or any other metric.
Women in leadership positions may feel that they have to work twice as hard to be taken as seriously as their male colleagues. Ms. Paradkar felt that if she dressed a certain way, or if she had a drink that there would be a value judgement from her peers. This is unacceptable, and the “good old boy” ways of the past do not promote creativity and diversity in the workplace.
Women in positions of power should:
- Learn to speak for yourself. Be more assertive with your ideas, and don’t be afraid to defend your thoughts.
- Consider body language. Look at how men tend to sit and present themselves in a meeting. Many women may perch on the edge of the chair, but instead, make it a point to sit back and take up your own space.
- Understand how male leaders typically differ from female leaders. Men are usually confident leaders. They will give you a decision and expect you to fall in line and execute what they have said. Women are usually more consultative, and this opens the opportunity for dialogue and discussion.
- Understand that ambition is okay. Many women are hesitant to seem openly ambitious, because others may perceive them to be greedy and grasping. However, women shouldn’t be afraid to work hard and be successful, and to WANT that success.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO STOP AND REASSESS
Women offer a different style of leadership, one that values compassion, love and kindness. Today’s modern workers expect more than totalitarian leaders who give orders with no opportunity for creativity and self-growth. These types of leaders do not encourage the sharing of ideas, or of risk-taking.
If leaders could just slow down, take a breather and reassess their leadership style, organisations would see more opportunities for growth and success. The bottom line doesn’t have to be the line in the sand, and the nurturing skills that mothers and women possess can help erase that metaphorical line.