Did you ever participate in the game of “follow the leader” as a kid?
I have watched youngsters play this game observing a very interesting gender dynamic. Little boys are far more daring with their followers while little girls take a safer approach, just to stay in good graces with the crowd mimicking them. However, the younger the kids, the less apparent gender roles are in the process. They all let down their shields and play to just have fun with no inhibitions.
In the ‘90’s I attended a formal leadership program facilitated by our local Chamber of Commerce called Leadership Kings. It was underwritten by my employer at the time as an investment in my future with them and I relished the opportunity to meet new, so called community leaders and learn things that I had never been exposed to and participate in a collaborative effort to do something significant for my community. (Side note, many chambers no longer offer leadership programs, thinking that it takes large amounts of money to facilitate them; however, the truth is, it just takes a leader to bring them to life).
During the year that I was in the Leadership Kings class, I learned much more about what leadership actually was and what it was not. I learned that mere potential, or position, title, power, personal attributes, management styles and money had very little bearing on whether a person could actually lead others. I learned that men are no less likely than women to become great leaders and that leadership had nothing to do with gender.
No… leadership is a very interesting phenomena that has been debated now for centuries and as an advocate for the financial equality of women, and the onset of literally millions of fempreneurs emerging into the economy, I wonder; will the raw components of leadership change? Can a female be as effective as a male in the office of President of the United States? I have pondered these questions for years and I too, like many men and women, have let the old model of “follow the leader” taint my opinion.
Would a female president be too soft, too emotional, and too subjective? Does only a man have the ability to save the planet? Will I feel obligated to vote for a woman, just because we are the same gender? These and more questions will challenge every man and woman in the 21st Century and beyond.
I can only conclude that if the leadership equation is applied in all situations, gender would be of no consequence. I, for example, will vote for the best candidate running for office, regardless of gender, because what will matter most is whether the person attempting to garner my vote represents values and principles that are in alignment with mine.
Leadership is a process of influencing people and it challenges the best effort of others towards the achievement of a common goal. The goal need not be that of the crowd by the way, (remember influence plays a large part) and it need not be honorable (as history can attest) which is why understanding that leadership is a means to an end is so important. It’s not what a leader says that’s as important as what he or she does to further the cause or goal.
Leaders simply see a vision, and that means that they take the time to think, strategize and then take action. They have the ability to persuade or influence a number of people to do something that cannot be done alone; so gender has very little to do with it.
Leaders are in play, every second of the day, both in large and small ways. My beautiful granddaughter has as much opportunity to lead as do my handsome grandsons, in their homes, their communities, and their nation.
So when it comes down to who you will follow…let your eyes be opened to see for if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch – Holy Bible: New International Version.