Saturday, June 25, 2016

8:36:00 AM - No comments

Women make better Inclusive Leaders

Business News daily came up with 30 different ways to define leadership by asking 30 leaders in business to define what leadership means to them. I wish to quote a few of those which I found striking "Leadership is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risk to create reward." – Katie Easley, founder, Kate Ryan Design.

"Leadership means using one's influence to help guide others in successfully achieving a goal without desire for recognition, without worry of what others think and with awareness of issues, internal or external, that might change the results sought." – Marie Hansen, dean of the college of business, Husson University. (, 2015)

In Sri Lanka one of the striking young entrepreneurs we have is Otara Gunawardena, the CEO of ODEL warehouses. One of her strongest believes on leadership in her words is : “To be successful one has to achieve a balance between business sensibility and social responsibility “

What is Inclusive Leadership?

A sensible reader of this blog would perhaps notice that all these quotes are by women entrepreneurs. This is because I strongly believe that women make good leaders especially when you put female leaders in to an inclusive leadership prism.  This would make you ask the question what is Inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership is the ability for a leader to include people with the most difficult of personality types in to working in a team. This also covers extreme introverts and others marginalized from society or not included in peer groups. For example: women with body image issues, a person with a lisp afraid of public speaking, or even someone with a social phobia. It is all about inspiring even the weakest of people to change positively for their development and to achieve a collective goal.

Why women?

Women in my opinion would make great inclusive leaders because of their ability to empathize, their sensitivity to the environment and intuition. A Business Insider Article I read recently on ‘’Why women are more effective leaders than men’’ set the record straight. A study done on the subject matter proved statistically that women actively take initiatives and are more competent at it. This was a study done on women’s leadership effectiveness : ‘representation in corporate America, and solutions for increasing their ranks’  (, 2014)

The study, by way of a standard 360 degree feedback instrument which measures 16 competencies, had proved that women scored higher than men in 12 of the 16 competencies.  Nurturing competencies such as developing, inspiring and motivating others are statistically significant. Reading this Business Insider article made me reflect on the National Leadership Development Seminar 2015 conducted by AIESEC Sri Lanka recently. AIESEC is the world’s largest student run organization focussed on empowering Youth for leadership development through cross-cultural volunteer exchanges and internships.

The Chair of the conference was a Vietnamese young lady called Milena Nguyen who had served at AIESEC International as a Global Partnership Development Manager.  Through transformational power of Yoga and excellent inter-personal skills she engaged with over 300 delegates from the AIESEC in Sri Lanka working body. She inspired and motivated the delegation who had many positive comments about her leadership.

In Sri Lanka, there are many females at lower level positions in organizations. In the streets there are more advertisements with a female figure, all focused on attracting customers which is very superficial. Such a superficial image on women could lead to a negative understanding of the female persona. Women are more than mere attractive figures because they can be leaders, change agents, and role models for both men and women. Education for females has never been more crucial. Free primary and tertiary education in Sri Lanka has enabled access to females to discover their potentials. Although this is so, only a few women pursue a greater ambition and work with vision. This has to CHANGE.

This blog is not intended at all to evoke female chauvinism on any grounds. Female representation in strategic levels of both public and private sector institutions in Sri Lanka is vital given that recent incidents concerning the impeachment of the Chief Justice has discouraged females from pursuing higher positions. The procedure of impeachment by the hands of ousted President Rajapaksa was incorrect. Our country needs women representing all ethnic groups to be more engaged in these matters especially when the country is undergoing major changes internally and also in international relations. We need more women leaders!

Disclaimer- AIESEC is a non-political organization that does not represent or endorse the political views represented in this blog. The views expressed are only the personal views of Miss Natasha Fernando (blog author).