Sunday 7 October 2007

Birdwings to fly free?

Last month’s Harvard Business Review headlined with an article on Women in the Leadershp Labyrinth. This challenges the concept of “glass ceilings.” What makes or breaks women in senior leadership is not so much an arbitrary blocking point near the top, as a complex tangle of challenges and sticking points throughout womens’ working lives. Organizations can minimize injustice and wastage only by addressing systemic discrimination factors at every stage.

I really enjoyed reading Carly Fiorina’s book this August, having been greatly inspired by her contribution to this year’s Leadership Summit. She seems amazingly realistic and unrancorous about the high hurdles she has surmounted, and sometimes collided with. Her story so far is a worked example of the need for two qualities in the best leaders — humility (encompassing both radical realism and freedom from distorting self-regard) and determination (never to give up or let things get to you). I also sensed in her a great awareness of her personal priorities and the value of life in the broadest sense, to keep things in proportion.
When people have stereotypes of what you can’t do, show them what you can do. When they have stereotypes of what you won’t do, show them what you will do. Every time you resist someone else’s smaller notion of who you really are, you test your courage and your endurance. Each time you endure, and stay true to yourself, you become stronger and better.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that an unyielding respect and regard for those we lead is an essential element to the "mix" of effective leadership, too - regardless of gender.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Many thanks, Barry. I'm very much with you on this.

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