Diane J. Chandler
This paper presents a qualitative study on the leadership development of six emerging women global leaders from Croatia, India, Japan, Jordan, Ukraine, and Zambia. The impact of personal role models, cultural values, and support systems on leadership development was explored through structured interviews using open-ended questions. The theoretical foundations for the research included (a) social cognitive theory, (b) implicit leadership theory, and (c) self-leadership. Based on the interview results, women identified affirming relationships in childhood and adulthood, including role models, and formative leadership experiences in serving others as having the greatest influence upon their values and leadership prototypes. Although each woman acknowledged cultural constraints related to leadership opportunity, they all utilized effective strategies to overcome them.
As the world becomes increasingly more globalized, women have emerged and are emerging in significant leadership roles within their respective communities and nations. Steadily, women have been elected as heads of state. For example, current and past women presidents include (a) Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, recently elected president of Liberia; (b) Maria Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, president of the Philippines; (c) Mary McAleese, president of Ireland; and (d) Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, former president of Nicaragua. Generally speaking, women emerge into power to make a difference in their culture and community. As Adler ( 1998) asserted, “For most women leaders, it is not the desire for the position nor for power per se that motivates them to seek the highest leadership positions; rather, it is their commitment to a compelling vision of what society could be, of what society must be” (p. 136).
The topic of women in leadership has been a growing subject of leadership research through the past few decades (Bass, 1990). Interestingly, one meta-analysis (Eagly, Karau, & Makhijani, 1995) found that male and female leaders did not differ in leadership effectiveness. Therefore, encouraging women in leadership positions can be one strategy for enhancing an organization’s overall effectiveness in addressing global issues including the economy and cooperation (Appold, Siengthai, & Karsarda, 1998). As Klenke (1996) argued, “Cross cultural savvy and adaptation are prerequisites for leading effectively in a global environment” (p. 217).
Given that more educational and leadership opportunities exist for women (Bass, 1990), emerging global women leaders of the nations become a compelling focus of future leadership research. Among the many factors impacting women’s leadership development, three factors have been selected for analysis in this study: (a) social modeling, (b) cultural norms and values, and (c) social support systems.
Specifically, what impact does one’s family and role models have upon leadership development? What impact do cultural norms and values play in the emergence of leadership, and what contributions do support systems play in the leadership development of emerging global women leaders? This paper seeks to address these precise questions. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe and identify the impact of these three identified factors on the development of emerging women leaders from six countries. Through structured interviews of six women, these questions relative to role modeling, cultural values, and support systems are explored in order to identify unique dynamics, possible trends, and emergent themes in the area of leadership development of women.
For this qualitative study, three theoretical approaches are considered (a) social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997), (b) implicit leadership theory (Lord & Maher, 1991), and (c) self-leadership (Manz & Neck, 2004; Manz & Sims, 2001). For the literature review, each of these three theoretical approaches is described, followed by the method, results, and discussion sections.
Social Cognitive Theory
Social cognitive theory presents a paradigm which explains human behavior, specifically how personal competence is developed through self-regulation of one’s actions (Bandura, 1986). Bandura suggested that three factors impact human functioning: (a) cognition and personal factors, (b) behavior, and (c) environmental events. Each of these three factors contributes to women developing as leaders within their respective culture.
First, cognition refers to the ability of thought which encompasses transforming experiences into internal models useful for future action. People are capable of thought which supercedes mere reaction to the environment. Additionally, people are able to identify desired futures, evaluate consequences of their actions, and self-regulate their behavior. Cognition involves not only people’s capacity to learn from direct experience but also to learn vicariously by observing others (Bandura, 1977). Through previous achievements, people increase in self-efficacy, which is defined as the belief in one’s ability to successfully perform a task (Bandura, 1997). Additionally, people have the ability to self-reflect on their thoughts, actions, and environment and can monitor their ideas, judgments, and decisions accordingly. Thus, women who are developing their leadership competence may look for others who model for them desirable leadership skills. Furthermore, Bandura (1997) suggested that the interests and competencies that people cultivate are often prescribed by “cultural sex-typing” (p. 92). Therefore socialization, as well as the role models women emulate, becomes a powerful venue for the development of women’s personal psyches, motivation, role comfort, and leadership frameworks.
Second, behavior comprises another facet of human functioning and refers to an individual’s ability to formulate actions that generate from personal cognition, or thought, as impacted by the environment. In other words, people exercise influence over their circumstances through regulating their behavior. Within leadership contexts, women are constantly impacted by their environments, particularly if their respective cultural milieu does not typically support women in leadership (Black, Stephens, & Rosener, 1992).
Third, environmental events likewise contribute to human functioning and relate to exterior situations that impact a person’s responses. Although the environment may impact one’s cognition and behavior, it is not the sole determiner of them. As Bandura (1986) asserted, “People create, alter, and destroy environments” (p. 23). Therefore, the social cognitive approach assumes that this “triadic reciprocal causation” comprised of cognition, behavior and the environment, is bi-directional, meaning each factor exerts influence upon the other over time.
What makes the social cognitive approach so compelling, as it relates to leadership development, is the impact of role modeling on personal behavior related to observational learning (Bandura & Jordan, 1991), attribute similarity (Perry & Bussey, 1979; Rosenthal & Bandura, 1978), and role model competence (Bandura, 1997).
Bandura (1986) argued, “Modeling influences teach component skills and provide rules for organizing them into new structures of behavior” (p. 49). Hence, people can observe others to garner new behavioral expressions. By observing others’ behavior, one’s own actions may be strengthen or weakened based on information garnered about other’s respective performance.
Therefore, in the interviews of women from six nations utilized for this study, questions one to five (see Appendix) have been designed to assess the participants’ relationship to parents, other family members, and additional role models before and after the age of 18. By determining the nature of the relationship with these models as well as the formative processes involving model attributions and interaction, it was hoped that themes of leadership formation would emerge. Whereas, Bandura (1977, 1986, 1997) presented a paradigm for human behavior, Lord (1991) and his associates (Lord & Smith, 1999; Lord, Brown, Harvey, & Hall, 2001) offer a unique leadership theorizing perspective, referred to as implicit leadership theory.
Implicit Leadership Theory
Lord and Maher (1991) argued that implicit leadership theorizing on the part of followers occurs naturally, with automatic categorization processes employed as a basis for social interactions. Furthermore, Lord and Maher posited that a reciprocal influence model occurs involving a sensemaking process, which mediates the behavior of one dyadic partner with the response of the other. In keeping with a seeming implicit theorization, Smith (1994) identified this automatic process of leadership conceptualization as a “default system” used by perceivers in dyadic relationships with leaders. In other words, the implicit leadership perspective acknowledges that no one prototype of leadership is relevant to all leadership situations or follower perceptions (Lord et al., 2001). Followers have leadership preferences according to their respective needs which may vary over time. According to implicit leadership theory, these follower preferences, or perceptual abstractions about leaders, comprise the lens through which leadership is then envisioned and understood.
The influences impacting implicit perspectives of leadership may vary. However, Lord and Smith (1999) asserted that social system factors are primary activators of leadership cognitive constructs for followers as well as behavioral dispositions of leaders. If this be true, then Lord et al.’s (2001) assertion that people categorize leaders in accepted prototypes through a two-stage matching process is valid. In the case of emerging women in global leadership, women may categorize effective leaders as role models by first identifying the exemplary prototype and then secondly by comparing leadership role models to this ideal prototype. As suggested by Lord et al., these assessments could very well be impacted by one’s culture including values and norms through a multi-level schema, which takes into account gender prototypes of masculine and feminine, as well as culture. Lord et al. identified traits typically related to gender such as dominance paired with masculinity and communal traits of flexibility paired with femininity. Implicit leadership theories related to gender-based expectations may define leadership behaviors and traits predicated on cultural norms and values.
Furthermore, regarding culture, Lord et al. (2001) argued that cultures may foster perceptual schemas regarding leadership on organizational and national levels of analysis. Culture is one external constraint impacting people’s perception of leadership. In light of the strong influence culture exercises on leadership perception, House and Aditya (1997) presented culturally endorsed implicit theories of leadership (CILTs), maintaining that leader behavior varies across culture, according to what is culturally expected and accepted. House and Aditya asserted, “Knowledge of culture-specific and universal aspects of CILTs will help to better understand the scope of cultural influences on leadership and leader-related variables” (p. 438). Their hypothesis emphasized that leader behaviors more in alignment with CILTs will be more effective than incongruent behaviors. If this hypothesis is true, then CILTs would also determine who emerging women leaders select as role models and therefore substantiates social cognition theory as a valid theoretical foundation.
In their theory of cross-cultural leadership, House and Aditya (1997) emphasized that leader behaviors that are incongruent with CILTs may also be effective if these behaviors focus on cultural or organizational change. Therefore, it would be anticipated that the responses from the six interviewees in this study may reflect both congruent and incongruent alignment with CILTs within each one’s respective culture, especially with regard to cultural values as they directly bear upon the need for perceived change.
Therefore, this current qualitative study is undertaken in response to House and Aditya’s (1997) call for further research on cross-cultural leadership. Hence, the six emerging global women leaders were asked about their perspectives relative to effective leadership including important leadership traits, ideal prototypes, self-assessments as to their own leadership alignment with these leadership prototypes, other women leaders who they deem successful, and the support systems needed for their own successful leadership journeys. Interview questions six to eleven address implicit leadership theory perspectives (see Appendix). Having discussed social cognitive and implicit leadership theories, the next section presents self-leadership which complements these two previously discussed theoretical frameworks.
Self-leadership is an approach to leadership that is based on social cognitive theory and intrinsic motivation theory and is defined as “the process of influencing oneself” (Manz & Neck, 2004, p. 5). As previously discussed, social cognitive theory is a psychological perspective recognizing that human behavior is comprised of bi-directional interaction between the three dimensions of one’s cognition and personal factors, behavior, and the environment. Intrinsic motivation theory, a component of self-leadership, views human behavior from the perspective of self-motivation involving the natural rewards that people enjoy from completing the activities they like.
Therefore, self-leadership provides a framework for motivating oneself to achieve personal goals and acknowledges that people have a great deal of choice regarding what they personally experience and accomplish. The strategies for motivating oneself toward self-leadership involve self-assessment, self-reward, and self-discipline (Manz & Neck, 2004). Although limitations encapsulate many situations, people are not helpless, even in the most difficult of situations, in making informed choices to advance their goals, standing firm in the face of challenge, and remaining optimistic about the future. All of these outcomes of self-leadership relate to women’s roles in their various nations, since they may encounter unfriendly messages from their environment because of cultural attitudes about their gender or abilities (Ayman, 1993).
Self-leadership is about doing things that are needed to be done, often with great effort and considerable sacrifice, in the achievement of one’s goals (Manz & Sims, 2001). The way one navigates one’s individual life journey is often through taking stock of impending obstacles and roadblocks. Depending on cultural background and milieu, women often experience roadblocks to personal goals and future destiny fulfillment and must decide how they will navigate these challenges. Self-leadership provides strategies for motivating and leading ourselves despite challenges, obstacles, setbacks, and undesirable outcomes.
Those who influence others may become role models through examples of various behaviors including goal setting and creative thinking, while also instilling a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy. Parents, in particular, may be very instrumental in this process. For example, Carly Fiorina, former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company, credited her parents with imparting to her longstanding life values that have deeply influenced her self-esteem and life direction: “I give my parents great credit…I grew up with a sense of ‘no limitations.’ I grew up in a family where my parents made it very clear that I could do anything I wanted to do, and the only limitation that was placed on me was the one I put on myself” (quoted in Manz & Sims, 2001, pp. 88-89). Fiorina learned how to motivate herself, based on her parent’s personal affirmation and confidence building interactions.
Self-leadership includes several dimensions including (a) self-observation, (b) setting goals, (c) rewarding oneself, and conversely (d) punishing oneself when goals are not achieved. First, self-observation refers to the ability to assess what behaviors will be useful in what specific situations. Some examples of self-observation involve when one evaluates the time one is taking on various tasks, the time spent in conversation, or the strategies we use to accomplish specific goals. Second, goal setting refers to specific short and long-term objectives or plans that one determines to accomplish. People set goals in order to move forward with perceived life plans. Third, self-reward refers to the ways people give themselves a pay-off for accomplishing desired objectives. For example, some people may reward themselves with permission to take some desired time off, buy something special, or engage in entertainment. Self-reward can also involve mental affirmation of our successful accomplishment (i.e., “I feel great about that”), or the use of our imagination to dream (i.e., “When I have time, I would love to go to the ocean. I can picture it now.”). Fourth, self-punishment refers to the negative outcome of not accomplishing one’s desired goals. Self-punishment is a good thing after doing something wrong. However, living with too much undeserved guilt is detrimental and needs to be dealt with constructively in order to remain healthy and functional. Self-talk, or speaking motivationally to oneself, might characterize each of these four dimensions.
Self-leadership relates to emerging global women leaders in that women may not have cultural or organizational levels of power or influence. Therefore, they must assert self-leadership in order to assess themselves, formulate goals, undertake self-reward, and also minimize inappropriate self-punishment. Additionally, in the absence of external affirmation, women may chose to engage in self-talk in order to motivate themselves to persevere, not be dissuaded, and regain positive thought patterns if lapsing into negativity. Especially when women confront resistance to organizational change (Neck, 1996), they may need to draw upon constructive thought patterns and refrain from self-criticism. In other words, as Houghton and Yoho (2005) asserted, self-leadership empowers people to lead themselves.
In summary, self-leadership aptly applies to viewing women of the nations and their leadership emergence since women may need to set goals to fulfill personal expectations, overcome cultural obstacles, and initiate change. Having discussed the theoretical foundations of this study including social cognitive theory, implicit leadership theory, and self-leadership, the next section discusses the research method.
Purposeful sampling led to the inclusion of six women from six different nations who were each interviewed using open-ended structured interview questions. Criteria for participant selection included those who were familiar to the researcher as being emerging leaders in their respective global cultures. Five of the six women currently reside in the US and are either in the process of completing or have completed their masters or doctoral programs, whereas one participant had recently completed her masters degree and returned to her country of origin. The ages of the women range from 25 to 32, and the number of years they have resided in the US for academic study range from three to ten years.
The six participants, whose names have been changed for confidentiality purposes, include (a) Tara, a 30-year-old doctoral student from India; (b) Deborah, a 29-year-old masters student from the Croatia; (c) Rania, a 26-year-old masters graduate from Jordan; (d) Olga, a 25-year-old masters student from Ukraine; (e) Tayonga, a 32-year-old masters student from Zambia; and (f) Lily, a 32 year old masters student from Japan.
Five of the six participants were interviewed in a face-to-face setting, and one was interviewed over the phone. Each interview lasted between 75-90 minutes. During the actual interview, the researcher kept printed notations of each participant’s responses. Face-to-face interviews were audiotaped and subsequently transcribed. Prefaced with a standard introduction, the structured interviews of twenty-four questions consisted of four parts: (a) nine demographic questions, and (b) and 15 open-ended questions (five questions derived from social cognitive theory, four questions based on implicit leadership theory, two questions on current support systems, and four questions predicated on self-leadership research). (see Appendix).
In qualitative research, the purpose of textual analysis is to discover patterns, themes, and categories from the data (Silverman, 1993). Therefore, an analytic induction method was used for data analysis. This method of analysis began “with an analyst’s deduced propositions or theory-derived hypotheses” (Patton, 2002, p. 454). With an understanding of social cognitive theory, implicit leadership theory, and self-leadership theory, these approaches provided the theoretical constructs in which to understand the participants’ responses. Nevertheless, patterns, themes, and categories were determined using an open-coding system that identified multiple categories of responses. The coding process provided helpful labels for applying meaning to descriptive and inferential information (Miles & Huberman, 1994). By coding the responses, categorizing the data into identifiable clusters for comparative purposes was possible. Coding was cross-checked to insure accuracy.
Overall, several themes and patterns emerged from the data analysis reflecting the women’s depth of formative childhood and adult experiences, unique opportunities for leadership formation, and expression of personal potential they identified for the future. Before identifying these themes, two of the six emerging women leaders’ experiences provided the most transparent glimpses and rich descriptions of the overall experiences related to social modeling, the formation of cultural values, and the support systems related to leadership formation. Therefore, Deborah’s and Tayonga’s stories are highlighted.
Deborah is a 29-year-old who was raised as the first-born daughter. She has a younger sister and is emerging as a naturally strong and gifted leader. Her desire is to develop indigenous leaders from within the Balkan region, especially by bringing a sense of hope and destiny to the younger generation. She is passionate, convincing, and very determined to catalyze change within her nation which has been wracked by violence, war, and ethnic hatred. Although raised in her toddler years by her maternal grandmother, the most impacting role models in childhood have been her uncle and aunt. Her uncle, who was very committed to excellence, hard work, and strong values of integrity, challenged her in her teen years to curb her rebellious attitudes. “Whatever you try to do to someone else, you do to yourself,” he once commented, challenging Deborah to fairness and integrity. Although her aunt was generally supportive, her uncle affirmed her sense of self-confidence and contributed to her self-esteem by consistently affirming, “You can do it.” Unlike most of the other participants, her primary role models were not her parents, but close family members who believed in her potential.
Regarding role models generally, Deborah commented that one male leader gave her the opportunity to assist him in community development projects. She noted, “We have very few role models in my country. However, one respected leader in my community saw something in me and invested in me.” By delegating his authority to her, Deborah blossomed in her leadership ability, taking seriously the leadership mantle imparted to her from a male role model. Handling vital responsibilities, she persevered through very challenging times, where her self-leadership through goal setting and self-assessment piqued.
When asked about self-confidence and self-motivation, Deborah assessed these as being very strong. She commented, “When I am asked to speak, I get so nervous. But then after I step forward, I feel in complete control. Usually I’m leading big things with outside pressures and circumstances mounting. I’m not one to back off from challenge.” She continued, “Things that have never been done before motivate me.” Despite the hindrances of being a female leader among male counterparts, her sense of self-efficacy remains remarkably high. She credited this with her mother being a “fighter” and the many excruciating events that have ripped apart the Balkans with ethnic tension and war.
As it relates to her self-esteem, she addressed her pattern of talking to herself (i.e., “self-talk”) when she is faced with unfortunate or insurmountable challenges. Admitting she talks to herself when feeling inadequate, she quipped, “Sometimes I talk to myself. I say, ‘Deborah, this is too funny! You are pathetic. You cannot afford this [to dwell on feelings of inadequacy].’” It is precisely this self-talk recognized by self-leadership theorists that Deborah engaged in to avoid self-criticism and emotional paralysis.
Admitting that women in leadership positions is culturally taboo, Deborah expressed the prototype of Balkan leadership as being characterized by strength, competence, honesty, prolific interpersonal skills, and a servant-orientation. She offered no example of women leaders in her country who fit her implicit prototype adding, “Those women who are in politics act like men and fight their way through.” Currently, her most impacting role models include two respected leaders she has met in the United States. The first is a male community leader who has expressed interest in her as an emerging global leader. The second is a female leader whom she met in an academic setting who has personally mentored her.
Tayonga is a 32-year-old doctoral student from Zambia, the fourth of six children, and the first-born daughter. She has been in the US for ten years, beginning with undergraduate and then masters level educational training. Her previous leadership positions included various roles in student government both in Zambia and the US. She desires to develop a leadership training center in Zambia and also teach at the university level to train the next generation of national leaders.
Her father was the primary person who influenced Tayonga’s sense of uniqueness, potential, and self-confidence. She commented, “My dad would say, ‘Be who you are. Be yourself’. Although he did not verbally encourage her often, he tacitly affirmed her. She recalled one impacting incident when her father found out about her poor performance during her high school years. She remembered, “The following day, my Dad wanted to take me to a [friend's] wedding. He said to me, ‘I know it was hard for you to fail this class. Don’t be too hard on yourself.’ His not rebuking me built up my confidence.”
However, although her Dad impacted the development of her sense of self, her mom was her primary role model because of how her mother handled pressure. Tayonga noted, “My mom stayed with my dad through the difficult times. She is a giver, and her life speaks volumes to me since she is so sacrificial to everyone. I look up to her and want to be like her.”
Tayonga’s other role models include a Zambian woman who was a radio broadcaster and passionate about the betterment of the country. Although she never met her personally, Tayonga noted, “She was very strong, but also gentle, soft and kind.” Other role models included those who had taken personal interest in her. One older woman groomed Tayonga to be a leader in her undergraduate studies. Tayonga expressed that this woman challenged her to a higher level of leadership integrity and noted, “One time I did something wrong, and she rebuked me in front of everyone. I was so hurt, but later she mentioned that she did it to refine my leadership call.” Other role models included an African couple, who had invested much relational capital in their friendship, despite occasional conflict, a male professor, and a male supervisor who gave Tayonga professional development opportunities and also believed in her. Lastly, another role model is a woman whom Tayonga noted was firm but also empathetic in her leadership style and interpersonal relationships.
Regarding her own sense of confidence, she is tremendously self-motivated to prepare for returning to her nation to impact her nation through leadership training. Tayonga described the prototype of an effective leader in her country as being male, in control, and authoritative. However, she added that her personal prototype includes someone who is authentic and vulnerable. Speaking directly, she noted, “I’d love to see more servant leaders who want to serve instead of be served and who are connected through interpersonal relationships.” She felt that she fit her personal prototype of a strong, interpersonal leader and noted two other women leaders in her country who also reflect the leadership qualities to which she aspires. One is an ambassador from Zambia to another country, and the second is a Zambian doctor who directs a medical center.
Related to support systems, Tayonga noted that she will need emotional, financial and technical support when she returns home. However, she views leadership as a process of primarily influencing others to fulfill their personal destiny and work together for the common good. In her own self-leadership, she is able to reward herself when she achieves her goals by watching a movie or other kinds of entertainment. When she does not achieve her goals, she indicated that she talks to herself (i.e., “Snap out of it.”) or by just venting through tears or journaling to express her thoughts and emotions. Overall, she mentioned, “I try not to be too hard on myself and determine to do things differently.” With self-leadership evident, Tayonga implicitly believes that leadership is influence and that she has been influenced by many role models in her leadership journey. Having assessed Deborah’s and Tayonga’s interview responses, along with the other four participants, the next section focuses on emergent themes.
Overall Emergent Themes
Impact of early role models on value formation and development
Each of the six participants referenced the impact that parents or close relatives had in the development of their life values. For three of the six, they identified their fathers as the most instrumental in instilling a sense of their uniqueness, potential and self-confidence. Regarding the other three, one mentioned her uncle, one her mother, and the other mentioned both parents. Other than parents, role models before age 18 were comprised of family members, teachers, and public figures.
Role models after age 18 were comprised of those who personally invested time in the participants’ lives. Two of the six participants mentioned that they did not have a single role model but rather many who contributed to their formation. As for leadership role models, three of the six women identified Mother Theresa, Mohatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. because of their character, commitment, and sacrificial service to and for others on the basis of strong ethical and moral values, beliefs, and convictions.
Several of the women mentioned culturally oriented values and tacit assumptions regarding women in leadership. First, Tara from India mentioned that her father called her “his son” because her sibling was also a female. In Asian Indian culture that prizes male over female children, Tara’s father never insinuated disappointment that he had a second daughter instead of a son, but rather gave her all the advantages a son would have received. Second, Lily of Japan referenced her culture as not being one that promotes women in leadership but is one where humility is prized above self-assertion and independence. Implicit perspectives of leadership also surfaced within the interview process.
Implicit leadership perspectives based on culture
Each of the six emerging leaders identified leadership traits that their respective cultures affirmed such as strength, boldness, power, and achievement orientation, as well as prototypic leaders being male. However, Olga from Ukraine offered a cultural distinctive that the others did not. She mentioned that in the Ukrainian culture, leaders are expected to be strict, self-oriented, and selfish. She suggested that corruption is a chronic reality, with leaders being perceived as seeking personal advantage rather than possessing genuine concern for others. This pervasive lack of trust in leaders is antithetic to Olga’s implicit leadership perspective, one that prizes unselfish service to others over personal self-aggrandizement. Interestingly, all six women identified the ideal leadership characteristics as being humility, character and integrity, and willingness to serve others over self-interest. Support systems and personal beliefs in achieving desired goals served as another link among these emerging women leaders.
Support systems and self-efficacy as avenues for achieving goals
Perspectives on the usefulness of support systems were similar, and the six emerging leaders’ responses signaled overlapping cultural perspectives. For example, Tara commented, “We don’t have support systems in India.” Although support comes from the family, she perceived people from India as not seeing the need for support systems in leadership contexts; so therefore they are not generally initiated. Overall, the responses of the other women were similar. For Deborah from Croatia, she commented, “I never knew I needed them [support systems]. However, I know I need them now.” On the other hand, Rania from Jordan took an autonomous and self-leadership perspective when she responded, “We should be our own support system.” She did affirm her family and close friends as comprising her support system base.
Olga from Ukraine conceded that her support systems are not in the Ukraine, whereas Tayonga admitted, “I know I’ll need to build a support system when I return to Zambia.” Lily from Japan observed, “I tend to be a loaner and support others before myself.” Inherent in five of the six participants, these emerging global leaders realized that in order to achieve their leadership aspirations, they will need to have some kind of personal support outside of themselves in order to achieve their goals.
Experiences that shaped leadership journeys
When asked how they defined the term “leadership”, four of the six highlighted “influencing others” to become who they were created to be. One woman highlighted the character dimension of leadership as “walking in integrity”, and another woman focused on giving vision to a cause or organization in order to inspire others. A consistent theme within each woman’s responses related to the experiences that shaped their leadership, which fell into one of three categories: (a) affirming relationships in their childhood or youth, (b) affirming relationships with a significant leader(s) in early adulthood, and/or (c) the formative growth experienced when serving others in a leadership context. Having assessed the overall responses and themes of the participants, a discussion follows.
This study examined the perspectives and insights of emerging leaders from six different countries in hopes of broadening an understanding of the impact of social modeling, cultural values, and support systems on leadership development. In order to positively impact their respective nations and the world, each of these six women aspires to leadership positions in various capacities and desires to foster organizational change through personal examples of honesty, integrity, leadership competence, and genuinely serving others. While all acknowledged the challenges awaiting them upon their return to their nations, they generally recognized the need for support systems that could bolster personal self-leadership and for serving as role models for others.
The data presented in this paper were based on a small sample of six emerging global leaders. Therefore, these findings must be interpreted cautiously and without generalizability to a broader group. However, the discussion prompts further in-depth study of five dimensions associated with global women’s leadership emergence. First, the women in this study are at the onset of their leadership journey. Further research is recommended to ascertain the stories and perspectives of women who currently serve in higher level global leadership positions than those interviewed for this study. Second, further research is warranted on the impact of fathers on their daughters’ leadership development within a cross-cultural context. Third, it is recommended that future research include the interviewing of the parents or significant parental figures and role models of participants for a 360-degree assessment of their leadership development. Fourth, further research is warranted that would more deeply probe specific cultural differences, especially relative to individualistic and collectivist cultures, and how these differences might impact women’s leadership development (c.f., Earley, 1993, 1994; Hofstede, 1991; Triandis, 1989, 1993). Fifth, in order to foster women’s success in the global leadership arena, assessing women leaders’ cultural and adaptation competencies as fostered by tangible support systems is strongly recommended, which would impact new ways to view leadership and encourage commensurate training venues to assist emerging global women leaders.
In order to be successful in leadership endeavors, women will need a threefold model of leadership development to navigate the leadership issues they will face: (a) challenges of new situations and difficult goals, (b) personal recognition that spurs further achievements, and (c) tangible support that enlists the encouragement of others. In the training of future global leaders, each of these dimensions will need to be evident (Morrison, 1992). To be change agents in a rapidly interactive global world stage, the clarion call for global women of leadership character, competence, and compassion resounds around the world. As more global leadership opportunities open for women, it is hoped that they will soberly accept these opportunities and implement strategies which contribute to their personal and organizational success.
The earliest approaches to the study of leadership emergence focused on identifying personality traits of those who were perceived by others as leaders (Stogdill, 1948). However, more recent approaches suggest that individual differences account for leadership emergence (Lord, De Vader, & Alliger, 1986; Zaccaro, Foti, & Kenny, 1991). Furthermore, one’s social and cultural development has been found to impact these leadership emergence patterns, as well as how leaders are perceived in their respective cultures (Ayman, 1993; Bandura, 1997; House & Aditya, 1997; Lord & Maher, 1991). This study on emerging global women leaders contributes to understanding the internal constructs which frame leadership emergence of global women leaders.
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-Marital Status: _____
-Educational Level: ____________
-Country of Birth: ____________
-How many years spent growing up in your country? ______ yrs.
-How many years spent in the US? ___________
-When do you plan to return home to your country? _______________
-Identify the leadership positions you hold/have held:
-What are your leadership aspirations?
SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY
1) One of the ways we learn about ourselves and develop future aspirations is through our childhood experiences. Can you talk about the values your parents instilled in you when growing up regarding:
a) your uniqueness?
b) your potential?
c) your development of self-confidence?
2) Who were your primary role models up to age 18 (other than your parents), those who modeled character and behavior that you wanted to emulate/be like (can be male or female)?
a) What about them made them your role models?
b) How did they touch your life? (i.e., encouraged, assisted, believed in you)
3) Who have been your role models after age 18? What qualities in them were/are ones to which you aspire?
4) Who have been your leadership role models and why? What have they taught you by observing them?
5) On a 1-10 scale with 10 being high/1 low, how would your generally assess these areas related to your leadership?
-Self-esteem (the way you feel about yourself)
IMPLICIT LEADERSHIP THEORY
6) In your culture, can you identify the leadership traits that are generally associated with effective leadership? What might they be?
7) Describe the profile/prototype of an effective leader in your culture? Describe what this person looks like and does.
8 ) How do you fit this generally accepted profile of a leader in your respective nation?
9) Do you know other women leaders in your country who you would consider accepted, respected and successful? Who might they be?
10) What strategies have you or might you employ to successfully overcome challenges or obstacles in your leadership journey within your country?
11) What support systems have you developed in the past and present to assist you in your leadership journey?
12) How would you define leadership?
13) What key experiences have you had that have shaped your leadership?
14) On a 1-10 scale, how would you assess yourself in the area of setting goals and achieving them?
15) When you do a good job, how do you reward yourself? Or when you do not do a good job, how do you punish yourself?
Dr. Diane Chandler is an assistant professor at Regent University in the areas of leadership education and spiritual formation. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Regent University. Her research interests include: women in leadership, cross-cultural leadership, and spirituality.