If we mention the word ‘leader’ in Africa, we most likely picture a man. We picture a ‘boss’. We think of someone authoritative, who others defer to, and that we’re possibly a little scared of. Politicians and Businessmen. 

This isn’t just an African stereotype. Across the world, we will probably find young women with the same picture in their minds. They imagine that leadership is for men, or ‘bosses’. 

Leadership Styles that work for everyone 

However, research shows that a much more ‘female’ leadership style brings the best out of people. Good leaders inspire. They share a vision and bring together a team who wants to work towards it – whether it is selling a product, leading a school or raising up a country. Good leaders recognise the talents in others and give them the opportunity to use them to work towards that shared vision or mission. 

Good leaders are not ‘bosses’

Good leaders recognise that when their team thrives and progresses toward making their vision a reality, they are winning. They don’t need to be involved in every decision or control every situation. They don’t need reverence or awe, which can often distract from that vision. Good leaders are of service to others on their teams and are happy when someone else gets praised. 

Leadership that Transforms

We see this leadership all around us in our communities – we see women leading their families, teaching their children to do things, and encouraging them to take on more responsibility. We see them work together with friends and relatives to achieve impossible things – building businesses, cooperatives, and schools. We see professional women mentoring their juniors, and supporting their colleagues. 

Recognising this leadership 

We need to recognise good leadership if we are going to see ourselves as leaders, and inspire the young women we work with that leadership is within their reach. Not only this – they can lead in ways that don’t just serve themselves, but others. 

Reflection Questions

  • What have I done this week myself as a leader?
  • Who is a female leader I admire? Why?
  • What do I think the qualities of a good leader are?
  • What skills do leaders need?

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