What Women Leaders Are Teaching Us About Leadership

- Leadership

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by Julia Gain

According to Peter Drucker, also know as the man who invented management, “effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked, leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

Centuries of feminist activism have enabled women leaders to thrive and be acknowledged. Science, politics, ecology or feminism are just a few areas women leaders have brought ground-breaking innovations to. Each one can teach us a tangible lesson about how to attain results that define great leadership.

Here is our list of what we can learn from these five women leaders:

#1: Megan Rapinoe: In addition to being a fierce leader on the soccer field, both as captain of the Ol Reign team and of the national team, Megan Rapinoe is also an activist. She was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019 after winning gold with the national team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, becoming famous world-wide along the way.

Megan used her popularity to become a role-model for younger generations. As a gay woman having grown up in a conservative neighborhood, she wants to show it’s possible to be yourself and be great at what you do. She feels it’s her responsibility to give the best example possible to young women and inspire them to thrive. Megan publicly takes a stance against discrimination and supports a variety of political and social movements, like BlackLivesMatter. Recently, she filed a complaint against the U.S. government concerning unequal pay between men and women in professional soccer.

Megan is the perfect example of what leadership means. Part of being a leader is being a role-model. Actions are more inspiring than words and speeches. Inspire people by what you do and your everyday self: Be what you promote!

#2: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She is also, along with Rashida Tlaib, the first female member of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to serve in Congress. AOC gained national and international recognition through major electoral wins against long-term politicians and her progressive agenda. Among others, she advocates tuition-free public college, a Green New Deal and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

AOC has become a symbol among millennials, thanks to the ideas she promotes and a new type of leadership. She uses social media to create a relatable image and be close to her voters. Rather than offering a flawless and distant image of success, she’s accessible and inspiring for a whole generation. In her words:

“I keep things raw and honest on here since I believe public servants do a disservice to our communities by pretending to be perfect. It makes things harder for others who aspire to run someday if they think they have to be superhuman before they even try.”

Like AOC, we should stop trying to be perfect – no one is. Be relatable! Keep it simple and offer insight on the challenges you face rather than hiding your flaws. You’ll become a source of inspiration.

#3: Greta Thunberg: Greta Thunberg is famous for being one of the world’s youngest leaders. She has been fearlessly challenging world leaders on their environmental policies since she was 15, when she started the School Strike for Climate. At first, the now internationally-known movement was just Greta standing outside the Parliament with a sign. She was quickly joined by other classmates with whom she organized the Fridays For Future strikes during which thousands of students took the streets to ask for urgent measures against climate change. Just a few months later she addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference and weekly strikes were organized all over the world, involving millions of students.

Greta quickly became one of the most powerful environmental leaders despite the fact that she was only 18. She is especially famous for asking “How dare you?” during one of her most inspiring speeches at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Becoming a leader also means breaking barriers. Be fearless. People won’t always share your vision at first, but if you really believe in a cause or a method you want to implement, try to stick to it. No one will believe in it if you don’t!

#4: Arussi Unda: Arussi Unda is a feminist activist whose call on social media led to the strike of millions of women across Mexico on March 9, 2020. Las Brujas del Mar, the feminist organization Arussi Unda co-founded, started off as a simple Facebook group to exchange information on feminism. It quickly became a conversation on violence against women when they started receiving messages from women asking for help. In less than a year, the Facebook group gained over 100,000 followers.

Femicide levels in Mexico are soaring. In January last year, 320 women were killed in Mexico, which means that 10 women died every day. The deaths of Ingrid Escamilla, 25, and Fátima Aldrighett, 7 , in February 2020 encouraged Las Brujas del Mar to organize a large-scale protest in addition to the traditional demonstrations attached to International Women’s Day.

“If we stop, the world stops”, are the powerful words Arussi Unda published in order to emphasize the essential role women play in the country and their strength. Her call resulted in millions of women abandoning work and domestic duties on the same day.

We tend to see leaders as isolated individuals. This is rarely true as most big accomplishments flourish from team work. Being a leader doesn’t mean working alone, it means learning how to work together!

#5: Aya Chebbi: Aya Chebbi is a Pan-African feminist and diplomat. Her role as a political blogger during Tunisia’s revolution in 2010 and 2011 led her to become a fierce defender of democracy and human rights. She served as the first ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet.

Through her multiple high-level and international roles, at the World Refugee Council, the Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct and the Council of the Africa Public Health Foundation, among others, she supports youth activism and gender equality across Africa. She also founded offline and online youth participation spaces and created mentorship programs in order to develop youth leadership. Aya Chebbi is the creator of the Afrika Youth Movement, one of Africa’s largest pan-African youth-led movements.

Aya Chebbi shows us that mentorship is also part of being a great leader. We tend to put teaching aside because it doesn’t seem like a priority or because we lack time. Nonetheless, sharing your experience and skills is key for longterm growth and inspiring others.

Photo credit: CoWomen via Unsplash

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