Men may still outnumber women in many leadership areas, but women aren’t afraid of daunting leadership responsibilities.
Contenders for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are starting to pay more attention to Indiana with the primary election coming the first week in May. Donald Trump’s campaign, for example, opened a Fort Wayne office Thursday. Hillary Clinton opened one a few days earlier.
Once again, Clinton’s campaign has many wondering whether we might be closer to having a female president.
A recent American Association of University Women report on gender leadership gaps noted the disparity even in politics.
Women have been on the campaign trail for the White House for nearly 145 years.
Victoria C. Woodhull, a native of Homer, Ohio, is noted as the first woman to run for president. That was in 1872. She was well-known as an equal rights advocate.
Dozens of others have mounted presidential campaigns.
One of them was Shirley Chisholm 100 years later. The New York politician became the first black to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Carol Moseley Braun, from my home state of Illinois, was another.
She ran in 2004, although she didn’t get as much support as Chisholm much earlier, the AAUW report noted.
Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, has also campaigned for the nation’s top elected position.
The more who run, the more likely it is that some year, some day, a woman will be president of the United States.
I’m not so concerned with who or when.
But I’m watching, like many others.
When it happens, it will be history.
Much of my spare time the past couple of months have been spent helping to plan and handle event details.
While debating one night which tasks to give priority, I decided to scan a couple leadership books on my iPad. I think I was looking for some additional wisdom, perhaps even an energy boost before getting back to my to-do list.
“The Leader’s Checklist: 15 Mission-Critical Principles” by Michael Useem caught my attention.
Once you articulate a vision, the book says, leaders need to think and act strategically, which means considering the reactions and resistance of the team before they manifest. While doing that, it says you still have to “honor the room,” expressing confidence and support for those on the team.
I don’t recall whether the book uses the term “cheerleader,” but that’s essentially what leaders have to be.
That can be challenging when faced with resistance toward the vision.
Other principles touch on areas critical to any project, such as communication, motivating the team, and building leadership in others.
The last principle Useem shared in the book suggests placing “common interest first.”
In setting strategy, communicating vision, and reaching decisions, the book says, “common purpose comes first, personal self-interest last.”
The best teams have a mix of people – checks and balances – who can keep each other honest, focused on the common good. That guidance starts with the leader, who has to ask the right questions, know when and how to respectfully challenge ideas and help the team weigh the pros and cons.
In the end, despite differences, I agree with Useem that leaders have to “honor the room.”