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February 27, 2024

Gavilan President: Attributes of Women in Leadership

Courtesy of Gavilan College President/Superintendent Kathleen Rose:

I attended the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, in June, to widen my own leadership experience as I prepare to serve as club president next year. I was asked to present a breakout session entitled Women’s Leadership Skills: Strengthening Our Rotary Legacy. What an experience! Although I have been a scholar of leadership for many years, have written on the subject often, and have had the opportunity to speak nationally, it was a thrill to present to an international audience of Rotary leaders who are clearly motivated change agents.

If ever there were a time to focus on the work of leadership, the development of leadership skills, and the debate around qualified leadership, it is now. Especially for women.

Common attributes of women leaders I have found that women leaders today who are ready to do the thoughtful work around change share the following attributes:

  • They understand the importance of human connection away from technology and keep it as a priority.
  • They are curious and creative and ask questions that lead to comprehension.
  • They look beyond the obvious and provide solutions by using a systems-based ideology that help others stay engaged.
  • They are unafraid of transparency in voice and action, and are willing to care for others with authenticity.
  • They share their personal growth stories…but in alignment with the growth they experience in the workplace. Lessons are real and meaningful.
  • They take purposeful actions and show emotional intelligence in practice, rarely apologizing for showing both strength and emotion in making key decisions.

There are many examples of this type of leadership. One of my favorite examples is Stephanie Woollard, founder and CEO of Seven Women. In 2006, Stephanie met with seven disabled women working in a tin shed in Kathmandu, and with the last $200 in her possession, paid for a trainer to teach the women how to produce products for sale locally and abroad. Her potential and leadership was recognized by Rotary in 2016 when she was accepted into the Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Stephanie took purposeful action based upon recognizing a need, and developed a solution that was sustainable with a supportable system that gained strength and momentum over time.

Steps to being a change agent So what are the first steps for women to achieve these goals for themselves and their organizations? To be a change agent, you must:

  • First, identify your values, assumptions, and beliefs about change.
  • Next, believe in yourself, and know that you can motivate those around you with your voice, your passion, and your confidence.
  • Then, find a mentor and create your strength circle of those who support your leadership journey. Put yourself in environments where change is occurring and you can engage in a shared vision and dialogue about the impact of change … in other words, educate yourself and take risks!

Leadership is a practice. I have been a scholar of leadership for many years and I am still excited about the discoveries I am making in my own growth and development as a leader. I continue to develop my ethical standards; enrich my personal, business and community life; and endeavor to advance goodwill and peace throughout the world.

Through the lens of my personal leadership journey, applying the passion I have for change, I look forward to continued growth as a leader!