Should I walk in my own shoes or in the shoes of others?

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Women standing with cross legs in same position. Black and white picture of women's legs.

By Professor Kiran Trehan,
Department of Management, University of Birmingham


Leadership on International Women’s Day is about reflection, advocacy, and action but it is also about leadership that engages all your senses, not just our minds.

I wake up this morning, it’s a lovely spring day, fresh, sunny, with the promise of hope in the air. Today is International Women’s Day, I am struck with a sense of optimism and at the same time have that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach.

This year’s campaign focuses on Better the Balance, Better the World, Balance for Better, so how far have we come socially, economically, culturally and politically? I think the future is both exciting and challenging for women. Reflecting on the rich and diverse stories of women’s leadership and how women shape their daily lives is at the heart of understanding the past and shaping the future.

Leadership on International Women’s Day is about reflection, advocacy, and action but it is also about leadership that engages all your senses, not just our minds. If we want to Better the Balance, Better the World, Balance for Better, then we need to explore how we develop inclusive workplaces, authentic leaders capable of managing the unprecedented challenges of the 21st Century.

The truth is building a balanced world is not simply an issue just for International Women’s Day, success comes from collective action and shared responsibilities, the work of all employees and the management/leadership teams within businesses. Developing more inclusive leaders is not simply a question of role models and mentoring. Mentoring is a powerful tool for building bridges into leadership. The evidence highlights the value and power of peer-to-peer networks as creative vehicles for unlocking hidden potential within the business. Equally as important, is moving away from heroic leadership role models to ensuring the next generation are able to walk in their own shoes, finding their voice, because as Shakespeare highlighted it’s not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

If Better the Balance, Better the World, Balance for Better, is going to deliver on its promises we need to learn from our past and reimagine the future as highlighted by the reflections below:
“It is essential that policymakers, organisations and wider society continue to strive for equality, particularly within the workplace. The next generation of future female leaders, from the millennials, from my generation, are watching closely what happens next and are looking for inspiration that their time will, in fact, come from this powerful movement for necessary change.” Menchen Kang, Tradescend.

Today as we celebrate International Women’s’ Day I’m reminded of Marie Curie’s quote ’One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.‘ So, let’s remind ourselves of all the women in leadership roles. Women who have demonstrated what makes a good leader – valuing and developing others, holding people to account and contributing to the creation of authentic inclusive environments where people can be themselves.
There will always be more to do but let’s take a moment… moment taken! Back to inspiring the next generation. Jacqui Francis, Adina May.


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