While written from the viewpoint of appreciating women as educational leaders and managers, my belief would be that they bring enrichment to all organisations. We discount them to our clear and distinct disadvantage.
THE VALUE OF WOMEN AS PRINCIPALS, KEY TEACHERS AND ORGANISATIONAL PARTICIPANTS.
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Women are key players at all levels. I believe the following attributes to fit their character as ‘the invaluable group’.
1. Women are all seeing, all knowing and able to join in fifteen conversations at once.
2. Women are aware: They have 360 degree vision.
3. Women have clear goal orientation and crystal-like focus.
4. Women cut to the chase and don’t dither around the edges of issues.
5. Women are careful synthesisers and succinct summarisers of situations.
6. Women are adept at timetabling and planning; they are meticulous plan followers.
7. Women have awareness.
8. Women show empathy to those who are under the pump.
9. Women excel in engaging others in planning and organisation.
10. Women have excellent leadership and participative perspective. They are both on the organisational balcony with all-encompassing vision and on the dance floor with and among those engaged with endeavour.
11. Women make an extraordinary contribution in going forward.
12. Women contribute proactively to staff endeavour and leadership balance within schools and systems.
1. WOMEN ARE AWARE OF THEIR SURROUNDS
Women are all seeing, all knowing and able to join in fifteen conversations at once. I mean this in a totally appreciative and complimentary context. The broad based awareness women have of their surrounding environment makes them the superior gender when it comes to awareness. They have, in my opinion, a panoramic appreciation of what is going on around them. Ladies read body language and more empathetically understand reactiions of others than do men. Not only can they contribute to a conversation in which they are participating; they also gain appreciation of the tenet of surrounding dialogue. These finely honed environmental skills add to their situational awareness. As a male leader, I was always wise in seeking feedback from female staff leaders on matters we were dealing, for this helped inform in a way that was beyond my own interpretative capacities.
2. 360 DEGREE VISION
Another quality vested in women and often lacking in men, is a capacity for 360 degree vision. The expresssion ‘eyes in the back of their heads’ fits because of the totality of awareness with which ladies are blessed. After a staff meeting involving 40 or 50 people, I always felt it wise to ask the women members of my leadership team for their feedback because the meeting elements I missed (body language, eye exression, non-verbal contact between people) they picked up. This enabled us to appreciate the meeting more fulsomly than would have been possible for me alone, or in conversation with another male. This is just another quality with which women are blessed and which mmen can fail to recognise.
From working with many women over the life of my teaching career I can vouchsafe for their clear goal orientation and crystal-like focus. Ladies, far more than men can divine a path that leads through from aims and objectives to goal outcomes. While there are always exceptions, I felt that women with whom I worked were less likely to be sidetracked by diversions than men. Their approach and priorities establishment helped me, in terms of reminding about the fact I needed to keep on time and on task. Oven many years, I was blessed to have some outstanding female members of the leadership groups which developed at my schools.
4. CUTTING TO THE CHASE
Women cut to the chase and don’t dither around the edges of issues. When confronted by tasks, they quickly align the best and most efficient way to get from task start to goal accomplishment. They do accept advice but are able to synthesise and sift valid suggestion from what might be extraneous. Women are less bogged down when it comes to dealing issues than many men. They are definitive in approach and get things done. While appreciating the contributions of those who approach shared tasks positively, they are not in the business of treating foolishness lightly. While valuing the contributions of some men within my operational sphere over the years, I knew that if something needed to be done quickly, efficiently, accurately and conclusively, it was best to delegate management and decision making to a woman.
5. SUMMARISERS AND SYNTHESISERS
It is common for women to be demeaned by men, who have them as garrulous and gossiping. This is entirely unfair and equally, incorrect. Both men and women are want to wax lyrical in social situations but when it comes to business and organisational propriety, women are far from idle chatterers. They are quick and adept at taking on board information about issues, summarising succinctly and drawing out the main points conversations confirm as needing attention. In my opinion, they do this better than men.
The capacity of ladies to synthesise and extrapolate to directions it would be wise to follow is well established. It is a fact that women have this capacity. To listen but then quickly work through to a point of where the organisation, based on information to dater, can go forward with confidence makes them people who contribute magnificently to organisations.
6. PLANNING AND TIMETABLING
Women are adept at timetabling and planning; they are meticulous plan followers. I believe they are far better at meeting deadlines than men who are in charge of organisations. Over the years I was blessed to work with ladies as members of leadership teams and had cause to thank many of them over the years for keeping me focussed and on track. Our leadership ‘mix’ always included men and women and without female contribution we would have been less effective leadership teams. Many was the time I had cause to thank the female cohort for reminding me of and insisting on the follow through of timelined obligations.
One of my smartest moves was to delegate (both task and decision making responsibilities) to ladies who were members of our leadership groups. They ensured that we managed in an ‘on time and on task way’. For mine, they come up trumps.
7. WOMEN HAVE AWARENESS
Women who lead have a 100% awareness of what is going on within and around their organisations. Their sixth sense, womanly intuition, enables them to know what is happening within the school, company or enterprise. They have a sense that keeps every aspect of their domain within their mind’s eye. Men’s awareness is less broad, less perceptive and far less acute.
Knowing their places of work so intimately enables female leaders monitor the performance of their teams. They are not nosy and intrusive, simply aware. I believe Gail Kelly, Westpac’s CEO demonstrates these leadership principles. so too, do many women who are involved within leadership teams. What blessings they bring to their workplaces.