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  • Writer's pictureGladys Agwai

What is YOUR Leadership Responsibility?

“You cannot solve your problems using the same thinking used to create them.” Albert Einstein

It has been decades upon decades that the world has talked about closing the gender gap in political, economic, social, and educational areas. In 1945 the UN’s charter goal was equality between

men and women. In 2015, 193 countries committed to participate in the 17 Sustainability

Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. Goal #5 is General Equality and Empowerment. Progress has been made BUT slowly and unevenly. The current global health, economic, political, and social crises have made worse and exposed more clearly the inequalities experienced by women and other minorities. Women fall behind incredibly early in their careers making it even more difficult to

close the gender gap. Several studies have shown that:

• If first-level women managers were hired and promoted like men, there would be one million more women in management over the next five years.

• In Africa, it will take 140 years to close the gender gap.

• Globally, it will take 100 years to close it and 217 years in the workplace.

The women and girls whose lives depend on change happening cannot wait that long. Can you, your aunties, sisters, nieces, cousins, friends, and their circles of influence wait that long? Gender equality and empowerment are a catalyst for all the other sustainability goals, such as, no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, peace, justice, and strong institutions. Long established

barriers make the transition harder for women with less time to reskill and look for employment, i.e., unpaid care work, mobility due to physical safety, infrastructure and legal concerns, lower access to digital technology and STEM careers. Discrimination in law and practice exists related to physical and sexual violence against women, marriage, divorce, child custody, getting jobs, starting businesses, or banking. Social protection and public health and education services are required to eradicate poverty due to illiteracy of half billion women.

At times, as women, we are our worst enemy. A woman commented on the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as Director of WTO. She ranted about her searching for an office as opposed to being at home taking care of her husband. It is her house, and her husband supports what she does. Reflect on how you judge other women or how you are or have been judged. It is difficult enough as it is without

us tearing each out apart. It begins with us in our home. We must take personal ownership to support ourselves and one another reaching back to pull others forward as we progress. Today 70% of the power and decision making is dominated by men. The leadership gap must be closed to unleash the power of women’s collective action. Closing the gap will bring men and women together while adding trillions of dollars into the global economy. According to McKinsey, in Africa, gender equity could bring $316 billion or 10% GDP growth by 2025. It makes good sense all around to close the gap to uplift economies, communities, and households. But what does it mean to lead? Many believe if you have a title or position that makes you a leader. It does not. Leadership is not about titles or positions. It is about who can you socially influence to ensure accelerated and sustained growth based on the outcomes you want whether personally or professionally.

The key elements of the definition of a leader:

-Stem from social influence, not authority or power.

-Requires others that do not have to be direct reports.

-Personality traits and attributes are excluded.

-Includes an intended goal.

With the challenge to close a widening gender gap, it is critical that leaders get people moving. Leaders must mobilize and energize others that empowers them to want to make extraordinary things

happen. The challenges within leadership will never go away. Leadership never becomes a fad. Accept it. During uncertain and chaotic times leadership is the only antidote to chaos, stagnation, and dissipation.

When times, problems, people and technology changes, leadership endures by solving existing problems while going after and realizing unimagined opportunities in an environment of constant and

complex change. While no one knows what the future will hold, be confident in knowing that without great leadership the possibilities will not be envisioned or attained.

Are you a willing leader and ready to commit to lead by turning challenging opportunities into remarkable successes? It is not about who you are but what you do. Are you ready to inspire and mobilize yourself and others to do things differently, struggle against uncertain odds, and to

persevere toward a cloudy image of the future? According to Kouzes and Posner, it takes your leadership to take extraordinary efforts to transform challenging situations by uniting and igniting yourself and others. Reflect on the five key leadership responsibilities below and how you can better leverage them to overachieve your intended personal and professional goals and the goals of the communities you serve to close the gender gap. How will you turn:

1. Values into Actions

2. Vision into Reality

3. Obstacles into Innovations

4. Separateness into Solidarity

5. Risks into Rewards

Leadership development is self-development. It is personal and a daily challenge for everyone. As you take on these challenges, can you describe yourself as fearless, collaborative, creative, decidedly different, and agile? Do you have the will to lead? It is up to you. Do you know the way to lead effectively? Encourage everyone, regardless of title or position, to act like a leader with you modeling the way.

This includes young people. I hope this article has helped to begin to supply the way to lead. My article for the next edition will continue with the theme of how to mobilize and lead yourself and others to make extraordinary things happen with a focus on the “Five Practices of Exemplary

Leadership”. How are you “modeling the way”?

"The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity … out of discord, harmony

… and out of difficulty, opportunity."-Albert Einstein


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