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Women as Influential Leaders

  Sep 16, 2011

By Esther Kanyi

There are many definitions of leadership as there are leaders and many frameworks of leadership. Many scholars have defined leadership in various ways, as we focus on women as influential leaders I borrow from John Maxwell’s and Judith German definition – ‘leadership as influence’ and ‘leadership is trusted influence’ respectively. For one to be an influencing leader several factors have to be put into considerations such as balancing one’s own life, applying leadership skills, knowing oneself in terms of weaknesses and strength, sharpening your negotiation skills and lastly but not limited to developing personal action leadership plan.

The topic ‘women in leadership’ has found its way into many political arenas especially in Africa where women are trying to get equity in political leadership positions. When one looks deep, women are born with handy responsibilities that qualify them to be executive leaders, starting with their own homes. In essence women leadership is diverse. As a result of women roles being diverse, it requires balance for them to be influential and trusted at the same time. Starting from the family level, a well organized woman has a higher chance of influencing the whole family to be orderly and focused. Women therefore start influencing members of the family which ultimately translates to the society.

In an organisational set–up an executive woman needs more than balance at work. Her balance needs to be derived from her own life and her family; failure to have stability in these two areas will eventually affect the equilibrium at work. According to Georgia Feiste, the President of Collaborative Transition Coaching, “We aim for balance because a balanced leader will develop a healthier business. They are able to delegate more, rather than racing to answer questions, email and meeting with clients in five minutes or less. They are more thoughtful in their decision making, and are more effective in their ability to lead. Their employees are more committed to the company because they know they make a difference.” Therefore for a woman to thrive in leadership a clear balance between her home, life and work should be acknowledged. A well balanced woman has power of influence which inspires people to take action.

In line with developing influential skills every leader should work towards developing a personal action plan that lays out personal and professional leadership goals. To be able to develop the plan effectively, it is crucial to start by knowing oneself in addition to working toward developing a personal mission. Influential leaders have a purpose and a plan to help them achieve their goals. Women in all levels of life need to start nurturing their leadership skills by developing their own action plans that will help them improve and above all elevate them to the position of influential and trusted leaders.

In conclusion every woman is influential in one way or another, but we cannot stop growing our leadership skills especially in this dynamic society where we have to learn to balance between our profession, family and life. As more women continue to climb the ladder of leadership, the society should see an opportunity in them for positive influence. Women in high ranks of leadership should build reputation for trust not only in their place of work but with everyone they relate with most especially their family. An authentic woman leader is one who has work-life balance and influences others on the same.

Strathmore Business School’s The Leading Woman Executive program (TLW) brings women together to develop their leadership skills. The program took place on 12th – 14th September 2011 at Strathmore Business School. Among the topics covered were ‘The meaning of Authentic Balanced Leadership, Women in Management in the 21st Century, Leadership and Motivation, Influencing and leading a Family Responsible Culture, developing your personal Action Leadership Plan among others.’ The program was conducted by a pool of local faculty and they included: Patricia Murugami, Mary Waceke, Dr. George Njenga, Irene Kinuthia and Peter Kwenjera who covered extensive topics that were crucial to building oneself as a woman and the roles of women in leadership in areas such as policy, negotiation skills and most importantly it gave a chance for women to reflect and develop action plans.

To view pictures, click here.

About TLW

In today’s rapidly changing world, women are overcoming leadership barriers in unprecedented ways and emerging as leaders with more presence on boards and more opportunities to take their business and communities to the next level. This calls for the need to harness the potential of women leaders in both the public and private sector.

For more information, click here.

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