• Female leadership:  A change of imagination is needed!

Female leadership: A change of imagination is needed!

In our collective imagination, the notion of leadership is still strongly associated with the masculine. Yet it is becoming inconstable and almost indisputable that the position of women as leaders in many areas is a reality.

By Joly Andres *


Female leadership has been able to build itself and to find a place in our Western societies, our businesses and even our policies. This topic now raises not only the issue of women’s leadership in general, but more specifically those from diversity, which is still marginal and which today requires a spotlight.

The world is undergoing a transformation, the context of socio-economic crisis is pushing the society towards a re-evaluation of its organizational, functional … classical development models. Multi-culturality and diversity are realities that can no longer be denied and / or ignored in this context of change. Rather than relegate them to the background, and if they were considered otherwise, that is to say, simply at their fair value? In other words, as real and vibrant forces that could be fully integrated into the managerial landscape that is built around us.

Indeed, this difference represents a real opportunity and could help redraw the “classical” model of leadership that has demonstrated its limits by excluding a portion of potentially viable managers, but sidelined because they did not fit in some boxes by their origins, their colors, their cultures etc. In a word, their difference. However, paradoxically recognized for their expertise. It is still unusual to see at the top managerial not only women, but women from diversity yet so present in the base of the pyramid.

Yet, looking at the French Hexagon, we cannot miss what I call the “multicultural” legacy of French history; a population resulting from the mixing of peoples and very diverse but not represented at the top management level. To develop leadership with women from this diversity would be to promote difference, for a better integration of people and cultures. By developing leaders, which I believe would exploit differences to make them strong.

Being different should not be considered as a brake on leadership, but on the contrary, should be a factor favoring this leadership mainly on two levels:

On the one hand, by the company (the company, the politicians … etc) that has to appropriate all these differentiating elements to agree to be destabilized in its leadership schemes. Give women the same rights of success as men by accessing the same levels of management positions. Crossing the ceiling and imposed glass walls that unlike their male counterparts do not allow women to go after their ambitions.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s director of operations since 2008, author of “Lean in Women, Work and the Will to Lead” highlights in her book that women are progressing at all levels except for positions of responsibility. The finding is similar in companies, especially in France, where women are progressing less than men, and even less so, women from diversity. The wage gaps are still considerable between the two sexes, at post, diploma, equivalent ages, wage differences represent about 24%.

On the other hand, becoming a leader requires taking charge of oneself, assuming one’s difference and not letting oneself be trapped in victimization which, in my opinion, is the posture of facility that inextricably leads to a dead end. Taking charge of your leadership lies in the ability to develop self marketing and networking, which I believe are essential tools for the power of women.

There are no noticeable differences in the way you lead, but there are some characteristics of female leadership, such as risk-taking and conflict management, taking into account emotions, which are just as important. elements to be taken into account at all levels of society.

And maybe here too, Africa is ahead of France: women have been elected from several countries of the continent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in Liberia or Joyce Banda in Malawi without forgetting, if we go back further in history, these women who were at the head of great empires, from the Queen of Sheba to Cleopatra through Ndaté Yalla Mbodggj, great warrior of the Waloo kingdom (North-West Senegal) who did not hesitate to challenge the colon French. Unknown to history, many women have been chiefs of tribes in societies much more matriarchal than we think. In France, we are still far from it.



By Joly Andres *
* Author of A conquest of professional happiness “, June 2017, The book topical editions (House Hachette), Joly Andres, member of the network Women In Networking, is an active activist against the discrimination of women from immigration to strategic positions within large groups.

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