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Posted on 30 June, 2018 in News , Research

Time for a New Era in Leadership?

Time for a New Era in Leadership?

By Kristy Brown

Drones and UAV’s give perspectives of landscapes and populations with clarity previously unimaginable. Watching sweeping images of rugged coastlines, huge alpine forests and breaching whales with minimal disturbance to these ecosystems is a gift of our digital age. Yet as the detail in which we view around us increases, so too does our awareness of its plight. It is glaringly obvious that we are facing environmental crisis. A 2018 paper titled “The Second Warning”, co-signed by 15,000 lead scientists across the globe, highlights this grim picture. In essence, we face the 6th global mass extinction event if we continue on the same trajectory.

Armed with this knowledge, it is easy to slip into a pessimistic thought party. But wait… Instead of reaching for a tub of chocolate ice cream and the next big series on Netflix in an attempt to distract from these gruesome facts, take heart. Dwelling on the negatives too long leads to disempowerment rather than action. Though maybe what we need is a new form of action.

As it is so widely known, we need to change our approach. This has had me thinking… If leadership and finance roles have traditionally been assumed by men, the consequence would be that we have only really had a taste of leadership from one side of our gender spectrum. What if by instilling gender equality, we also gain an entirely new societal mindset, set of priorities and way of taking action?

So… What attributes do women have which make them excellent leaders in their own right? And if capitalist growth mentality originating from typically masculine empirical regimes have shaped our current reality, what would the world look like if there was gender balance in leadership and the workplace in general? One example might be to look at New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who appears to lead with both pragmatic, yet socially progressive approaches. SBS presenter of ‘Insight’, Jenny Brockie is an example of someone who leads by opening up conversations, in which she facilitates rather than dictates. These are encouraging attributes to promote.

Rather than asking women to assume more masculine traits to compete, can our society place less value on capitalist growth and more on care for individuals and our environment? Can our society soften, slow down and allow the feminine nature of leadership to be established in its own right? And anyway, what is a woman’s leadership style?? Is it strong, soft, guiding, directed, calculated, forgiving, positive, empathic, nurturing and bold? I for one, feel like as yet I do not know, but gosh I am excited to find out. As we are opening up conversations around gender equality, shifts in thought process continue to emerge. Women and men are recognising the need for this change.

Both masculine and feminine aspects are vital if a new leadership paradigm is to occur, for both have their strengths. By allowing sometimes devalued feminine traits to be emphasised, our leadership style may change completely. I question the need for women to become more tough and analytical in keeping up with men in the work force. Rather, continuing to promote individuals to play to their own strengths regardless of gender, may just allow the best aspects of human nature to flourish. As we know change is needed, so what better way forward than with a new form of action.

Lau, T. 2018, "Banks need more women in senior leadership",American Banker,vol. 183, no. 26.

SkubałA, P. 2018, "World Scientists’ Second Warning to Humanity: The Time for Change Is Now",BioScience,vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 238-239. 

Image source - Creative Commons

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