Empowerment of Women in Leadership 2
This is the last articles considering the obstacle for women to access leadership positions. It covers the organisational and global factors with recommendations.
These refer to the organisational structure, culture and performance management systems. Double standards for both types of leaders: female and male, are still propagated in the current workplace. Frequently, women face challenges when working in male-dominated organisational cultures because they believe that to achieve success, women typically have to adapt to the organisational culture by adapting male attitudes and values and as consequently, women leaders have not exercised authenticity.
Dahlerup (1) suggested that holding leadership roles could be difficult for women because the schemas and standards that organisations hold of male leaders are different from those they apply in assessing the effectiveness of women leaders. This is why the need for quotas is justified. This view is convergent with reality but is rarely verbalised.
Organisational factors such as flexible work schedules, availability of mentors and sponsors, availability of leadership development programs and assignments, affordable and accessible child care at work have been a topical issue and action that many future looking organisations have taken up this last 25 years. When the combination of individual, family and organisational factors are assessed, they account for gender differences in paid leadership positions as well as female talent attrition.
Global influencers include aspects such as the world wide move to increase gender representation in board positions as driven by the United Nations, the Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) and other localised regulatory causes have increased the visibility of the impact of women in leadership. Due to global dynamism, workplace demographics, technological dimensions and speed of application of social media, new leadership perspectives are critically required. According to Hora (2), it is urgent for talent development experts to identify and grow female leaders who can work effectively across organisational, demographic and geographic boundaries.
Therefore, to be successful in the future, companies will need to select and develop leaders who are competent and have future ready competences in managing dynamic organisations as a whole and managing the increasingly complex global leadership scenarios. Organisations need leaders who have authentic charisma and possess the ability to inspire followers while subordinating their own interests for the good of the organisation. It is important that today’s organisations have the ability to identify a diverse workforce which includes both women and men to provide transformational leadershipwhich will in turn *transform these enterprises to meet the challenges of the new global marketplace in an ethical manner.
Technological factors have contributed to faster career mobility, near instant access to new markets and opportunities. However, these have also blurred the previously clear lines and boundaries between work and personal life. The pressure to be constantly accessible and increasing pace and level of competitiveness is a double edged sword. Technology has tethered women and men to their workplace irrespective of the time or location. On the one hand, Avolio et al (3) observe that such technologies including social media, have made it easier for flexible working from home. On the other hand, this has contributed to the role overload resulting in an increasing loss in female talent in the pipeline. This has a negative effect on the holistic growth intended for women in leadership. However, because research and policy tend to view gender issues based on the premise that women are marginalised and that a glass ceiling effect is still the major impediment to women’s participation in leadership, other current yet authentic issues may go unnoticed or misunderstood.
Recommendations for future research
An area for potential further research would be in unearthing the underlying meaning of the word ‘ambition’ and understanding the perceptions held by both men and women in leadership with respect to the meaning and application of ambition. Future research could be done to appreciate what is perceived to be positive ambition and what is seen as negative ambition when demonstrated by women in leadership.
When society begins to expect less from women and stop holding them to a higher standard that is when real progress will be made. When average women are allowed to lead just like average men are leading currently without the double bind then the leadership barriers will be minimized. At what point can this tipping point be achieved is an area of future research.
(1) Dahlerup, D. (2003). Quotas are changing the history of women. In IDEA/EISA/SADC Parliamentary Forum Conference, Pretoria. Retrieved from http://www.ku.ac.ke/actil/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Implementation-of-Quotas African-Experiences.pdf
(2) Hora, E. A. (2014). Factors that affect Women Participation in Leadership and Decision Making Position. Asian Journal of Humanity, Art and Literature, 1(2). Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2601782
(3) Avolio, B. J., Bass, B. M., & Jung, D. I. (1999). Re-examining the components of transformational and transactional leadership using the Multifactor Leadership. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 72(4), 441–462. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1348/096317999166789