Who Runs The World? Women Leaders On Global Stage And What That Means

The "Take Your Seat" #BlackWomenLEad 100 campaign in Boston was created to visualize more black women in political leadership. Sure, there was Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt starting in 51 B.C., and a sorority of Japanese empresses for a few hundred years starting in the 6th century.Scores of women leaders have ruled their countries for thousands of years. So ruling the world is not brand new for women. But recently we are witnessing impressive gains for women leaders in domestic and international politics.And while 1992 was declared the “Year of The Woman,” thanks to an influx of women elected to Congress back then, now that we are 24 years wiser, this may actually turn out to be the year of the woman leader—in top positions of the world’s most powerful countries.[bctt tweet=“This may turn out to be the year of the woman leader”]With Theresa May assuming the office of the Prime Minister of Great Britain recently, plus Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor and Democratic presumptive nominee Hilary Clinton aiming for the White House, it seems a good time to take stock of the lessons we can all take away from these women leaders. It is a good time to see how we can apply these tools to our own leadership in business and beyond. It is time to see what their roles mean for our own strategies.This Fusion video takes stock of all the women heading other countries, including Taiwan, Liberia, Poland and South Korea.  In her speech assuming her new role in “the government I lead,” May announced, “We are living through an important moment in our country’s history.”All in favor say, “Aye.”How do people feel about more women heading governments and businesses?The perception of women’s competence in politics and governmental leadership is somewhat surprising, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on Women and Leadership.“When it comes to characteristics that apply specifically to political and business leadership, most Americans don’t distinguish between men and women. But among those who do draw distinctions, women are perceived to have a clear advantage over men in some key areas,” according to the survey.The study shows that 34 percent think women are better at compromise, while 9 percent said men are better at reaching compromise. The rest said there was no gender difference in compromise. On ethics, 34 percent reported women handle this better, while only 3 percent said men do. The rest said there was no gender difference. And in working for a better quality of life for people in the U.S.? Twenty-six percent of the respondents said women worked harder for this, while 5 percent said male politicians did.“Women are also more likely than men to say that female leaders in both politics and business outperform male leaders on most of the traits and characteristics tested in the survey. The gender gaps in perceptions about political leadership are especially sharp. Whether on compromise, honesty, backbone, persuasion or working for the benefit of all Americans, women are more likely than men to say female leaders do a better job,” the study showed.The culture seems to be shifting to appreciate and applaud more female political leaders.This would be a good time then for all women aiming to be leaders of their organization, company, committee, start-up or government entity to understand the 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career, created by Gloria Feldt, Take The Lead co-founder and president.“As more women assume leadership positions in government and the private sector, women cannot become complacent,” Avery Blank writes in Forbes. “Seeing women in leadership positions does not relieve you of the responsibility to lead your own career and life. You must still play the main role in your advancement, and here are three ways to do it: capitalize on the women’s movement, engage others in your quest and keep pushing your agenda.”In this time and place where more women are seen internationally in the highest positions, you can make the most of your own ascent into leadership.“If there was ever a better time to act and move your career forward, it is now. Over the past couple of years, women’s leadership has increasingly gained interest and visibility. Tap into this energy, and use this to propel your actions and remain positive in your pursuits,” Blank writes.Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky writes in the Sun Herald that in spite of these gains, the sheer numbers of women leaders are not the highest ever. But the might of the countries they run may be the most powerful ever.[bctt tweet=“The might of the countries women run may be the most powerful ever”]“There are fewer women heads of government today than there were last year. Not even 5 percent of government leaders are women. Yet they are winning where it matters: If there were a way to weight women’s influence by the might of the countries they run, the U.S., Germany and Britain would swing the balance in their favor,” he writes.What distinguishes the nations where women lead the government vs. those where they don’t? Bershidsky continues: “It’s infinitely harder for women to break through to the top in big, fiercely competitive democracies than in smaller countries like the Nordics and the Baltic states, which have provided most female government leaders in recent years. And it’s doubly hard for a woman to reach high office in a country with a conservative Catholic tradition like Poland — where Beata Szydlo is. Besides, in a number of other powerful nations women are important opposition figures or strategically placed one day to take over the leadership of governing parties.”He continues, “The general rule, though, appears to be that women are called on to lead when division is too bitter and men are prone to turning every discussion into a contest of wills.”That is a lesson all women leaders can take with them in any position.Putting female world domination in context, Reuters columnist Peter Apps writes in New Zealand’s Otago Daily Times: “Sri Lanka became the first country to have a woman prime minister with the election of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1960. Golda Meir became Israel’s prime minister in 1969. Argentina’s Isabel Peron became the world’s first woman president in 1974. There have been female heads of state or government in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Turkey, Burundi, Central African Republic, Mongolia, and Haiti amongst others. In multiple cases, female leaders – such as Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto or Britain’s Thatcher – have become iconic figures.”When women are seen for all they have to offer, real change can result.Apps continues, “Women leaders should not be, and are not, defined solely by gender — and it is never the most interesting thing about them.“Analyzing the high profile roles in women in leadership around the world, an editorial in South Africa’s The Times called for women to lead that country.“So surely women deserve a chance to run this country, and their male counterparts to rally behind the call. If we don’t talk of such things we run the risk of not finding the talent that resides outside male-dominated structures,” the Times reported. “If gender is not a criterion for a good leader why, then, do we fear a female president?”Starting with the vision spurred on by the success of female political leaders around the world, “Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley led 100 black women leaders to visualize a future with more equitable representation,” according to Boston Magazine.Pressley gathered 100 black women leaders recently for the “Take Your Seat” #BlackWomenLead100 campaign in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute’s replica of the United States Senate where each woman sat in a chair to visualize what might happen if more black women were elected to public office.According to Boston magazine, Pressley said, “Black women’s historical lack of representation in the U.S. government, particularly the Senate, makes this event not only an empowering image, but a revolutionary one.”Shayna Barnes, the first African American woman to serve on the Brockton City Council said, “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere. We’re the first hundred. Let’s see who’s next.”