Women in Leadership 2: Reflection
Women in Leadership 2: Reflection Martha Shelley works within an organization that requires a lot of situational leadership. This is because the leader in question has limited direct interaction with the environment within which the subordinates are working. As the HR Officer, she can only be there to guide her team towards better HR management and leadership practices within the organization. The leader, as a woman, has to deal with her own insecurities regarding the gender based biases of leadership positions within the corporate world. Martha Shelley well respected member of the organization’s management, and has made some significant achievements but she continues to work towards a better relationship with her subordinates.
As an international organization whose main focus is on effective health care, the health care organization that Ms Shelley work is balanced between tasks and people in terms of management emphasis. The medical component requires scientific management as the patients need to be treated well and the practice must be up to the set standards both locally and internationally. The customer service aspect on the other hand needs a people-oriented approach since the employees need to enjoy interacting with the patients. In such an organization, it would be expected that situational leadership is the best alternative for the high level management. Team leaders in the various departments can try to take on the decision making within their respective teams but the top level managers like Ms Shelley do not participate in the activities of the other employees. This explains the need for the interviewee to offer guidance to the team leaders rather than exercising participative leadership and engaging them by example, especially since she is no longer working on the floor.
What I learnt about Women and Leadership and how it can Improve my Leadership Abilities
From this interview, I learnt that there is a very clear difference between male and female leadership. Ms Shelley was able to turn the company’s performance around by engaging her subordinates and motivating them to perform better. As the HR Officer, she was able to change the leadership styles of her team thus creating so many transformational leaders. She was also concerned about her relationship with her subordinates, while male leaders are more likely to focus on their relationship with their superiors. This means that the female gender is not in any way an inhibition for effective leadership, but rather an enabler especially where interpersonal relationships are a main concern. A female leader, or even a female subordinate, would work best in an environment where their efforts are appreciated and they can relate comfortably with those around them. By understanding that being a female leader comes with its own set of challenges that do not have to be an inhibition, I believe I can be a better leader by simply embracing my strengths and weaknesses rather than trying to justify myself all the time.
The surprising thing from the interview is in terms of the leader’s greatest challenge. Rather than facing major obstacles from her superiors, she actually has to deal with her own insecurities and those of her subordinates. This means that female leaders are more vulnerable compared to their male counterparts who would only be concerned about those above them. The need for a female leader to cultivate a good relationship with their subordinates is in this case a limiting factor. This challenges the leader’s sense of self-worth and she ends up questioning her abilities as a leader. This is where the leader’s response can be fully attributed to her being a woman. Her sensitivity towards the opinions and attitudes of her subordinates implies an emphasis on quality of life rather than on achievements in terms of organizational goals and objectives.
A female leader is generally more likely to take on a participative approach in their leadership style, meaning that they are more transformational than transactional. In Ms Shelley’s case, it can be noted that she was transformational until she had to be situational, and allow the team leaders to lead the employees while she took on a tactical role at the top level management. Her emphasis on building good relationships with her subordinates indicates a strength that female leaders possess over their male counterparts who in this case would have been more interested in the opinions of their superiors.