Do We Need a New Definition of Leadership?
The challenges facing leaders today are changing with globalization, robotization and interconnection.
Dr. Sabra Brock, interim dean at Touro College Graduate School of Business, was the keynote speaker at the NatDC Women in Leadership Conference at the Harvard Faculty Club in October and she reported on her survey of 50 C-Suite women. She documented that this current generation of female leaders realized early on that they were on the path to leadership. Rather than pointing out the sacrifices needed, these women focused on how much they enjoyed leading their organizations. The dominant emotions were excitement, gratitude and pride.
The conference attendees brainstormed what it would take to train new generations of girls and young women to embrace the following traits key to leadership success that the C-Suite women identified:
- Hard work
- Team building
- Attention to detail
- Positive attitude
What did these female higher education leaders recommend?
- Push forward despite the odds. Get out of your comfort zone with confidence and determination. Model and radiate as a female leader.
- Surround yourself with people and mentors who will speak truth to you. Mentor younger women.
- Create lots of “low stakes” and “high stakes” leadership opportunities for girls and younger women.
- Recognize and reward the men who acknowledge that female leadership is necessary to solve that issues the world faces now and in the future.
- Lead with grace and kindness, knowing your power comes from your abilities, not your position.
- Recognize that you have cultural biases that are hidden to you, so be willing to listen and learn from all, including the marginalized.
But the most insightful comment was the request that we need to change the definition of leadership to include traits women have been practicing for generations – facilitating, serving and helping. Demands created by globalization, robotization and interconnection require leaders to have more skill in communication, building confidence and conflict management.
Dr. Brock is working with colleagues to expand her study to female CEOs in mainland China, CEOs who are women of color, and male CEOs. She is adding questions on how business leaders define leadership, now and for the future.