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Women and Leadership


Recent years more and more women have appeared on the international arena as successful political leaders. This tendency shows that women have the same leadership abilities as men and can successfully perform as Presidents and Prime Ministers. This trend is a good sign for leadership in the world which can be interpreted as a great step towards equal opportunities and the ability of public to overcome prejudices against women abilities to lead and rule.

Women leadership abilities are formed under the influence of individual characteristics, internal and external environment. It is concerned with why they choose a particular course of action in preference to others, and why they continue with a chosen action, often over a long period, and in the face of difficulties and problems. This type of communication provides additional channels of communication and provides a means of motivation, for example, through status, social inter¬action, variety in routine jobs, and informal methods of work. It is admitted that women leaders are "more likely to be transformational leaders, defined as those who serve as role models, mentor and empower workers and encourage innovation even when the organization they lead is generally successful" (Evanston, 2005).

Without the direct participation and support of an institution's leadership, this power cannot be pushed to its full potential. Leadership requires many of the characteristics common to all leaders, but also requires special abilities to manage any organization in today's rapidly changing environment. One model for thinking about strategic change sees the exis¬tence of leadership as a social system built on 'influence paths' or 'loops'.

Most women leaders posses greater ability to motivate and inspire followers In order to achieve optimal goals three basics would be taken into account: motivation, reward and commitment. Motivating other people is about getting them to move in the direction they want them to go in order to achieve a result.

Motivation can be described as goal-directed behaviour and ability to contribute to a solution. Followers are motivated when they expect that a course of action is likely to lead to the attainment of a goal and a valued reward - one that satisfies their needs. It is reasonable to believe that strong commitment to work is likely to result in consci¬entious and self-directed application to do the job, regular attendance, nominal supervision and a high level of effort.
Referring to Eagly's study Evanston (2005) states that: "Women also scored higher than men on one measure of transactional leadership -- rewarding employees for good performance" (Evanston 2005). This explains why some countries prefer to elect female Presidents and Prime Ministers.

"Women presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state have commanded powerful nations throughout history. Great historical leaders include Cleopatra VII of Egypt, Queen Isabel I of Spain, Queen Elizabeth I of Great Britain, Catherine the Great of Russia, Empress Dowager Tz'u-his of China, and others" (Boyd, 2002). Probably, the most famous women of all times is Margaret Thatcher who proved the image of an "iron lady" able to compete with men on the political arena. Being an excellent example of an ideal female leader Margaret Thatcher possesses such features as vision of the future and personal charisma (Margaret Thatcher, 2005). The other famous female leaders include: Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. "The world record amount of female world leaders was 13, in July of 2002, when Lativa, Finland, New Zealand, Ireland, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Indonesia, Panama, Bangladesh, Sengal, São Tomé and Príncipe, and South Korea all had female leaders (Current Female World Leader Count 9, 2005).

General leadership skills are not sufficient in enriched environments. It must directly relate to the tools, medium, strategies, and competencies found within this culture. The recent tendency shows that female leader possess the competencies to use and evaluate new tools, but she must also have the insight into the impact these tools will have on the future of their countries. The ability to develop a shared vision for future political and economic changes within a country and in the world is an essential part of leadership.

Female leaders bring to politics a new vision of the problems and new strategies to problems solving. For instance, the example of African female leader depicts that women "bring motherly sensitivity and emotion to their presidency" (Female presidents show how the U.S. lags, 2005). Female political leaders show that leading others is not simply a matter of style, or following some how-to guides or recipes. Ineffectiveness of leaders seldom results from a lack of know-how or how-to, nor it is typically due to inadequate skills. Leadership is even not about creating a great vision. It is about creating conditions under which all followers can perform independently and effectively toward a common objective.
To overcome limitations of male leadership Liberian President" her presidential campaign on her experience and wisdom -- and on bringing a woman's touch to the civic reconciliation necessary for Liberia" (Female presidents show how the U.S. lags, 2005).

Female leaders help each of their followers to develop into an effective self-leader by providing them with the behavioral and cognitive skills necessary to exercise self-leadership. An important measure of a leader's own success is he success of her followers. The strength of a leader is measured by the ability to facilitate the self-leadership of others first critical step towards this goal is to master self-leadership. If leaders want to lead somebody, they must first lead themselves.

The list of female Presidents includes: Mary McAleese, Ireland (1997) and Ruth Dreifuss, Switzerland (1999-2000), Mireya Elisa Moscoso de Arias, Panama (1999-prersent ) and Tarja Kaarina Halonen, Finland (2000- present), etc. The Prime Ministers are Helen Clark, New Zealand (1999- present), Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Bangladesh (1996- present), Janet Jagan, Guyana (1997, President 1997-1999) so on. (Women Leaders. 2005).

In spite of this list and world's political practive it is supposed that women cannot be cussessful leaders because of conviction. In the article "Why Can't Women Be Leaders Too?"
Robin Gerber explains his vision of women leadership stating that: "women' conviction is not just having a belief, but holding strongly to it. It's one thing to talk about change; it's another thing to actually do something" (Graham, 2005). It would be possible to agree with Robin Gerber if not a numerous examples of successful female leaders.

The other leadership quality which appeals to many people is that female leaders are more trustworthy than men. Women leaders are able to implement new style faster than men. For instance, female leader in Peru is characterized as: "She's a good woman, the woman who is going to move us forward, because the men can't be trusted,'' said Magda Acuna, who sells shirts and slacks. ''They rob. They're corrupt. Women are more honest.'' (Vecchio, 2001). In pursuing and achieving objectives, Women leaders are more open to new ideas, insights, and revelations that can lead to better ways to accomplishing goals. This continuous learning process can be exercised.

To conclude it is possible to say that female leadership proves the fact that the world is needed in new vision and novelty brought by women. Recent years, global population are looking for leaders who are willing to give it all they have and they will follow, and female leaders are able to join strong leadership skills with female nature. Women leadership is the best process currently available for improving political effectiveness . The design retains needed principles from the traditional system; incorporates political principles, and builds a new system that works to accomplish overall objectives. The importance is that the process of effective leadership will be of extreme importance in the next 10 years and continues to advance rapidly and change becomes imperative. With a female leaders and transformational leadership any country will be "equipped" with the necessary and proper tools to successfully perform on the international arena and succeed on the national basis.

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