How do women lead? We have been studying this question for the past 20 years.
Our definition of leadership transcends position, role and hierarchy. We have found that leadership is a form of learning done in community -- together. That definition leads naturally to the following assumptions:
We have learned that women who lead share 6 common themes:
We have found a growing consensus that women possess inner resources that make them exceptional leaders: a brain hardwired for relating, empathy, and collaboration; a temperament enculturated to care and cooperate; a capacity to multi-task while holding firm to values; a powerful tendency toward community; and unique experiences with struggles and challenges.
You may ask: Aren’t there men who possess these resources as well? We believe that -- because of our histories, culture, neurobiology and psychology -- women face different struggles and therefore develop different skills and qualities.
So how do women negotiate paths toward leadership? We have developed a framework of leadership connecting four perspectives or stages of growth with the six themes derived from our studies. The result is a powerful matrix that can guide women as they make their way toward leadership.
The four perspectives are
As we did our research, we asked ourselves several searching questions: What are the skills, understandings and strategies essential to women’s ways of leading? Who are the women to watch? And, what does the future hold? This research has been turned into our recently published book, Women’s Ways of Leading, which sets forth provocative possibilities for a world led equally by enlightened women and men. Wherever you find yourselves in your own journey toward leadership, this book will surprise, challenge and guide you on that voyage.
Find details and ordering information at www.womenswaysofleading.com and more extensive information, a blog, and book discussion guide at www.Lambertleadership.org.
Linda Lambert is an author of both fiction and non-fiction. A former social worker, school principal and university professor, Lambert is the president of Lambert Leadership Development, The Sea Ranch, California. She also worked to set up community schools for girls in Egypt. She is now writing a trilogy of historical novels; Cairo Diary: an Egyptian fable was released in March, 2010.
Mary Gardner is the former superintendent of the Saratoga, California, school district, a visiting practitioner at Harvard University, and a professor of educational leadership. She consults with non-profit organizations and has served on five boards of directors.