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Women Leaders in the Community

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Community Women Leaders Roles Networkers

Effective leadership in the community can be a vitally important contributor to social development and women are often in the ideal position to take up leadership roles in the community. Their unique skills and perspectives enable them to bring valuable insights to their leadership roles and to achieve great success with projects in the community.

Community Leadership

Community leadership is a particular type of leadership – it is often defined by its local-character and is often based on a specific place. However, it can also be defined by a community of common purpose, practice or interests. Community leadership can be provided by individuals or groups and can be voluntary or paid – in fact, it is often provided by a combination of government, business and local volunteers.

Community leaders can be seen to be similar to those running business organisations in that they are building on and generating stores of “social capital” – so they are acting as a sort of “social entrepreneur”. Their responsibility is to push the community’s activities outwards and use community resources creatively and innovatively to maximise productivity.

It is interesting to note that in the context of community activity, leaders are often not formally appointed but are more likely to evolve into their leadership roles.

Women Leaders In The Community

Unlike other arenas, such as politics and corporate business, leadership in the community has not suffered as much gender bias and therefore, there may seem to be more opportunities for women to take on roles as leaders in the community.

However, while many women may have a lot to offer as leaders, many also need encouragement to take on leadership roles. Often, women will acknowledge their willingness to be involved but do not have the confidence to assume leadership roles. Ironically, they believe that they lack the knowledge, ability or skills to take on responsibility at an organisational level when in fact, just their life experiences from home and work are more than enough to qualify them as highly skilled leaders, negotiators and networkers.

The Meaning Of Community Leadership To Women…

Part of the problem may be the stereotypes often linked to the term “leader” which usually describes a person sitting at the top of an organisation and implies hierarchical power structures. In fact, it frequently suggests concepts such as authority, power and other emotive concepts which many women tend to shy away from.

Leadership for many women – the kind of leadership which they admire and strive to achieve – has more to do with building relationships and helping others, through effective teamwork – and is based on humanity, generosity and compassion. In other words, their notion of leadership is the ability to empower others to achieve their vision and potential. Some women even favour modesty – yet all this is very successful in gaining the support and enthusiasm from other women.

Developing Women Leaders In The Community

For most women, taking on greater leadership in the community is linked with building confidence in developing and running organisations and community groups. They can also improve their leadership abilities by becoming more aware of how to make use of their own particular characteristics and style of leading. Other ways to help include assisting them in recognising and developing their skills in networking, helping them overcome any negative social attitudes to women and supporting them in whatever capacity they are currently involved in with community groups and organisations.

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