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Great Women of Tomorrow: All Eyes on Women Leaders

The “Great Man” Theory

A leader is born, not made. This is the basis of the “Great Man” leadership theory, one I was introduced to during the first semester I studied leadership at Butler University. The “Great Man” theory holds that a leader emerges because a time period calls for change, thus a leader steps up. It is almost the notion of being in the right place at the right time. In studying this theory in class, we always referred to past men leaders who were born to lead. Interestingly enough, we never applied this theory to current times. That is because, looking back, the stage was always set for great men to lead. What does that say about our leaders now, or 5 years from now? Our current times are calling for not just great men anymore.

The “Great Woman” Theory

Are eyes shifting from “Great Men” to “Great Women” leaders?  The past few years have been filled with economic disparity and downturn. In the midst of all of this, women have proven themselves in handling crises. The McKinsey Global Survey of 2009 asked executives the most important qualities needed to manage their companies during tough economic times. The results showed that presenting an inspiring vision followed by defining expectations and rewarding achievement for employees were most important to executives in keeping their organizations on track.

The study also  showed that women, in fact, were more likely to use these skills–inspiring, defining, and rewarding–than men in organizations. Oddly enough, executives also emphasized the importance of these same qualities for their companies after the hard economic times. Why wouldn’t an organization want a leader who could withstand a crisis to continue to lead once the storm has cleared?

Our own worst enemy?

Even though women have held their own through these tough economic times, obstacles to moving up in organizations still burden women. Are we, as women, our own worst enemies when it comes to making these changes in organizations? The glass ceiling metaphor is nothing new to women, but it could be that they expect to be held down, and therefore never work toward moving up to the next tier of the ladder.  McKinsey & Company found that because of these perceived barriers, women may in fact be aiming lower instead of achieving their full potential.

Who’s next?

As future women leaders, we are in the right place at the right time. Times are calling for women to step up and lead. The key to our success is first developing our own sense of who we are as leaders. Leadership positions for women are up and coming and this next generation to enter into the workplace, my generation, needs to be ready. As women, we will have a big role to play in leading. Eyes are on us to set our own goals and achieve those goals.  The women leaders of today have paved the way for the next generation and as things for companies and organizations begin to look up, eyes will land on women as our next leaders.

Guest blogger: Claire Frisella, IWL Intern, Butler University 2013

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