“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” - John C. Maxwell
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.” - Theodore M. Hesburgh
1. Introduction: Women and Leadership
Currently, there are countless definitions and conceptual views regarding leadership. Although the concept of leadership has been discussed in the literature since the late nineteenth century, it remains difficult to obtain one definition that encompasses the true meaning of leadership. In fact, the desire to understand the precise meaning of leadership has sparked the interest of countless researchers in the twentieth century by the publication of articles attempting to focus on how an effective leader would be able to influence others. These articles have given different views regarding leadership and their effectiveness. Every individual perceives leadership in different light. To better understand the true meaning of leadership, antecedents of leadership must be identified (Jennifer Porterfield and Brian H. Kleiner, 2005). “Antecedents are those events or incidents that must occur prior to the incident or concept”. A select few characteristics (antecedents) appeared repeatedly throughout the literature. Some of these desired leadership traits are: An individual who is a skillful communicator, a motivator, one who translates visions into reality, one who provides direction in times of change and someone who is well informed. Leadership creates a true vision of what an ideal model of leadership should be. His thoughts define leadership as a process which gives direction in times of adversity and inspires others by building team work. In the past, leadership consisted of the leader’s ability, behaviors, style and charisma. In the twenty first century, leadership has embraced a different dimension, which includes collaborative efforts among group members. Therefore, the essence of leadership is not solely the responsibility of the leader, but the relationship between the leader and the subordinates.
Leadership has traditionally been construed as a masculine enterprise with special challenges and pitfalls for women. This perception raises the very interesting question of how women lead and what leadership style should they adopt to be successful leaders. Women have not been able to uplift themselves to the top level. They have not been given much chance rather they are not considered of having those qualities and attributes to be a leader. They have been facing different challenges to climb up the organizational ladder. But slowly we can see few women who have made it to the top and proved to be effective leaders. They have great leadership qualities. The presence of greater number of women in positions of power has produced new opportunities to observe female leaders along with male leaders. Women have always been exercising leadership in families and throughout communities. This shows that they always had leadership qualities but have not been provided enough opportunities to demonstrate their talent. But although women’s status has improved in the twentieth century in many countries, they continue to lack power and leadership compared to men.
This paper aims to provide a clear picture of women leadership. It shows where women are positioned when we talk about leadership and their abilities and qualities as a leader. It also depicts the challenges that they face in this male dominant society. The paper also talks about women’s leadership style and roles in organizational context. It also illustrates the various opportunities that they can explore in today’s world to become a successful leader. Relevant practical insights are also provided to support the theories.
2. Major Challenges: Challenges that the woman are facing to become a successful leader and so as to demonstrate their leadership
There are many...