Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men, the other 999 follow women – Groucho Marx
When the only female leader a bunch of intelligent, well-versed engineers can think of is Margaret Thatcher something has to be done. When it becomes a published fact that only 7% of engineers are women it’s time for action. When research demonstrates sufficient sleep to be a substantial factor in leadership success you listen. When Stylist magazine publishes data stating women need at least 8 hours sleep per night (more than men apparently) to stay healthy, yet are averaging only 7.13 you start to worry.
Rest and recuperation aside, what can we do to make great female leadership a reality rather than the joke it has been and continues to be? Firstly we can start by understanding ourselves. Leadership is the ability to influence people. To achieve this successfully you clearly need to know how you come across.
I had a really interesting conversation in the pub the other day. If you put your feet up are you relaxed and receptive or disengaged? Is fidgeting a sign of disenchantment or a release of excess passion? Is interrupting a case of loving your own voice or excitement that someone has a point worth debating? The friend I was with swears by ‘6 first impressions’ to form his opinions of people. Easier said than done and as the majority of people’s perceptions are formed based on preconceived behavioral patterns should we conform to societies norms to avoid presenting unintended negatives?
Don’t believe you are that judgmental? Take a peek at some well-known optical illusions and it becomes clear we aren’t even capable of seeing our surroundings without bias.
Once you have navigated your way through that maze of reasoning it’s time to think big. Leadership is situational so an appreciation of context is a must. This becomes evident if you stop to think of the massive impact political leadership has on societies notions of leadership at any one moment. Use context to form vision and use your vision to blaze forward into a world where at least one woman in a thousand is a leader of men.