Women and Leadership:
Two women are making significant marks on the business world: Marissa Moore, CEO of Yahoo!, and Sheryl Sandburg, whose bestselling novel Lean In is leaving indelible marks on the up-and-coming women leaders of the future.
The first remarkable thing about these women in leadership is that society in general is still treating women in leadership as a unique topic, almost glorifying the fact that “women” are doing great things, and not so much focusing on “leaders” doing great things. That glass ceiling has not been broken yet but with innovative, strong and daring leaders like this, there are cracks in the pane.
Marissa Moore made headlines in the past year by taking over the helm of struggling Yahoo! and making some decisions that run against the grain of current business practices. Criticized for the short maternity leave that she herself took, she also implemented a policy of paid maternity and paternity leave for up to twelve weeks for parents. In a bold move designed to increase creativity, not just productivity, she eliminated telecommuting for Yahoo! employees.
Sheryl Sandburg is the current Chief Operations Officer of Facebook, formerly worked for Google, and is the author of Lean In, a book about the struggles of women in the workplace and how to overcome obstacles to succeed in business or any chosen profession. Simultaneously heralded as a “feminist champion” and referred to as tepid writer whose advice does not help those single mothers who face significantly different societal and economic pressures, Ms. Sandburg has sparked a lively debate on women’s role in the workplace and their varying degrees of success. Ms. Sandburg’s book calls on women to have more confidence in themselves and jump in to risk and the fray to show their worth, ability, talent and resiliency.
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Both women demonstrate a key trait in any leader: confidence. Ms. Moore and Ms. Sandburg put out their policies and views respectively, aware of the consequences and publicity each would draw, but still did what they thought was best in their areas of responsibility and concern. Male or female, small or large business, if you are a leader, this is an example you can follow.
Leaders lead. They consider options, risks, outcomes and resources. They dream, they innovate and they strategize. All of this leads to making a decision. Whether the decision is going to be popular or not, it still takes confidence to finalize the decision, communicate it to the employees, and sell it to the workforce or consumer. Self-doubt must be overcome. Fear cannot be a factor. When everything has been considered, the best decision is still the best decision.
Would men making the same decisions and advocating the same platform still create the headlines accompanying the actions of Ms. Moore and Ms. Sandburg? Yes. Because they are bold decisions, bold observations, and regardless of the gender, still have an impact. Isn’t that what equality is all about?
Bold female leaders are pioneering ground for future women leaders. To learn more about women and leadership return to our define leadership section.
The truth is that women and leadership is quite similar to general leadership characteristics. To learn more about leadership is to become a better female leader.