#000497782 History 1610October 6, 2003In Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s novel, Ambiguous Adventure he addresses manyproblems. Such as the cultural and social choices that Africans facedduring the colonial era, how education played a major role in the Europeancolonization area. The one that is most surprising is the role of the MostRoyal Lady. She is highly respected by everyone, including the male leadersin the Diallo family.
But her role is very unusual, she is a woman andwomen of this time had no place in a leadership position.More and more women are rising to the leadership challenge, even in some ofthe most male-dominated industries. The increase in the number of womenattending university, in the workplace or starting their own business hasdemonstrated to men who own businesses that women can be both managers andmothers, thus showing their male counterpart that women can in fact “do itall”. This paper will show the history of women, as well as the challengesthey face. In conjunction with the Most Royal Lady in Kane’s novel, theleadership styles of women will also be discussed.
A number of events have occurred over the last twenty-five years or sothat have resulted in the rise of the female in the work-for-pay world.Beginning in the mid-1970’s, women began going to business school andearning their Master’s of Business Administration and, as a result,building on that education and gaining work experience. The days of the oneincome family are over. Females need to be armed with a university orcollege degree to be a contributor to this century’s model of the familyunit and in this time of “education inflation”, the demand for highereducation is growing at a staggering rate. In the corporate sector, thegeneration of women who entered the corporate world two to three decadesago have blazed the trail now followed by ever-growing numbers of women.
Just as in Kane’s novel, women whom hold leadership positions will behighly respected.While women continue to make progressive strides toward equality, fewhave risen to the highest positions-leading companies to the newmillennium. Fortunately, women can now demand equal treatment in theirrespective organizations as a result of the aforementioned changes inhistory. Many women in African culture still have set backs, and are unableto demand equal treatment.
There is a vast amount of evidence that womentend to occupy less powerful, lower paid and lower status organizationalpositions than men. These divisions not only occur vertically, but on ahorizontal scale as well. Women who seek to enter management levelpositions fight against stereotypes, discrimination, and myths, not tomention the fight to balance work and family. They have also beenoverwhelmed by unfamiliar products, skeptical clients or customers, guytalk, a scarcity of female associates and little or no empathy. SheilaWellington, President of Catalyst, a non-profit organization for theadvancement of women to corporate and professional leadership, said in aspeech on October 23, 1996 to the Economic Club of Detroit in DetroitMichigan:”Let me be clear, I believe that most obstacles to women’s advancementto the top are not intentional, they are a result of unexamined assumptionsabout women’s career interestsand of policies and practices that have existed unquestioned over time inthe corporate culture. With real commitment to change, the situationis remediable.
” (,)Perhaps, the “glass ceiling” that women are under is not the intent oftheir male counterparts. I believe that it is the socialization of men andwomen in our society that has lead to this imbalance in the work force.But, somewhere along the line, men have to realize and acknowledge thesocialization they have endured is creating much disharmony and discontentamong their female colleagues.There are many characteristics that women inherently possess that make themgreat leaders.Women tend to handle juggling many tasks at the same time better than mendo. Because women have traditionally been the primary caregiver in the homeas well as taking care of the household chores, “juggling” or timemanagement has become second nature to them.
Although women are skilled inhandling many tasks, studies have shown that women are for the most part,people-oriented, rather than task-oriented.Women also value relationships and tend to spend time nurturing thoserelationships with their family, as well as subordinates. Coaching,counseling, and mentoring, and the building of relationships are among themany characteristics needed to be an effective leader. In the past,commanding and controlling were thought to be the answer to gainingcompliance and hard work from employees. The majority of men lean towardthe traditional ‘command and control’ style and were more likely to viewjob performance as a series of transactions with subordinates offeringrewards for services rendered or punishment for inadequate performance.Women understand the effectiveness of immediate praise and tend to be moresupportive of one another and the people who work for them.
Men wait forproof of achievement before extending gratitude or compliments.It is important to note that while the majority of women do possessall or some of these inter-personal skills, men are quite capable ofexhibiting these same characteristics and it is also possible that thereare women who do not possess any of these characteristics. Women are alsosaid to be easy to motivate, are trustworthy and cooperative, and arecareful planners.Current studies suggest that women tend to have strong skills incollaboration and group processes. Many behavioral scientists haveconcluded that, in general, women’s leadership style seeks consensus amongsubordinates rather than the more typically male independent decisionmaking style. Women are sometimes faced with criticism for being toopassive, but if she opts for a more task-oriented, directive style ofleadership, she is seen as too aggressive or masculine-a “bitch”.
They usean interactive approach to management in which they encourage employeesparticipation but also attempt to “enhance other people’s sense of self-worth and to energize followers”.Women in leadership roles in organizations are usually highly involved inthe day-to-day operations and they seek advice from the community and theirpeers. When it comes to leadership and management, women “tend to lead incircles rather than pyramids”.
That is to say that they lean towardscreating a cooperative atmosphere rather than a hierarchical, competitiveenvironment. They possess superior creative problem solving and intuitivemanagement skills, these among their other interpersonal skills have beenencouraged throughout their lives and they have relied on those very skillsin each and every one of their relationships.Because of women’s socialization, these characteristics have come to theforefront. As children, women are encouraged to listen, to buildrelationships, to be considerate of other’s feelings and opinions and soon. As a result, a new breed of leaders was born.What, if any, characteristics of leadership, do women possess? Womenpossess a superior sense of teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration.
“Ifthe goal is to improve performance, the winning bet will be on cooperationover competition every time. Competition almost never results in bestperformance; pursuing excellence is a collaborator’s game”.Especially in joint tasks, cooperation and collaboration are keys tosuccess. Enabling others to act is innate in women. Again, as primarycaregivers, they are subject to letting their children go and experiencelife and make their own mistakes, this is just second nature to women.Reciprocity is key in executing effective leadership. Women focus alot of their energy and time in maintaining and building relationships withthe people around them.
Reciprocity is one of the components of building arelationship, “reciprocity also leads to predictability and stability inrelationships, which can keep both relationships and negotiations frombreaking down”. Reciprocity is described as having the willingness to becooperative and an unwillingness to be taken advantage of.To foster collaboration encompasses what women leaders are. Thesharing of information and resources is, again, like second nature towomen. This is through their socialization. That is not to say that allwomen possess these characteristics, but it is based on the majoritythrough studies and extensive research. Building trusting relationships isthe embodiment of the female psyche.
Without trust in the people aroundthem, their effectiveness as a leader, employee, wife, mother or friend isnon-existent. Women strive for trust in the people they connect with ondaily basis and they strive to be trusted. “Trust is at the heart offostering collaboration. It’s the central issue in human relationshipswithin and outside the organization”.
It is a universal fact that women are exemplary listeners. It is thekey in understanding the people you work with. To understand what isimportant to them is crucial to a successful business relationship. To knowwhat an employee needs to feel fulfilled and to work to capacity, superiorlistening and communication skill are necessary.
Celebrating accomplishments are also a fundamental practice in leadership.As mentioned previously, women are more likely to celebrate accomplishmentsand provide immediate praise to successful subordinates, unlike their malecounterparts. Women are drawn to creating social support networks. Onceagain, women’s socialization comes to the forefront. Females are taught byexample that to be happy and fulfilled you need your own little “supportnetwork” made up of friends and family. When women have problems or needadvice they immediately call upon their network for assistance. Unlike men,who by nature, tend to withdraw and put the decision making process solelyon their own shoulders.
Although women do possess many of the characteristics of effectiveleaders, they are not prone to lead by example. As Kane shows the MostRoyal Lady is a leader and well respected in that position. Due to theclash in the scheduling of work and their personal lives, women are tornbetween being a driven leader and being an effective leader in the home.But, again, gender is not always the determining factor in leadershipcapabilities. There are exceptions to each of the rules outlined withinthis paper. It is important to take note that there are male leaders thatpossess each of these qualities and are superior leaders.
Alternatively,there are men and women who possess little or few of these characteristicsand have still risen to the top of their ranks in terms of leadership styleand capability.