Women Courageous

Cover of Women Courageous

Leading through the Labyrinth

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Synopsis

Table of contents

(28 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xv
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Abstract

Alisha, a native of the United States, has lived in Kampala, Uganda, for 12 years leading a team of Ugandan teachers daring to impact their community for good. She and her team birthed an organization that educates, develops leaders, and creates opportunities. One hundred children and youth train at Terra Nova Soccer Club and Academy, and 50 have earned athletic scholarships to attend high school. In 2013, they opened a preschool with 32 students and now serve 250 students from nine countries and their families.

This chapter explores the fiery transformation of a founder and her staff from a collective yet leader-centric culture to a power-with culture in which multiple leaders follow the invisible leader of common purpose. Other theoretical lenses include the expatriate transformation process and intercultural communication competence, the impact of white fragility on cultural dialog, integrative conflict, four skill sets of courage, and collective courage as a predictor of a successful organizational culture, leadership, and mission fulfillment.

Alisha’s courage grew as she waged war with realities of her outsider status and her white body privilege in an African context, and the harm that can inflict on a community. She learned that it was in staying but not staying the same that allowed her to integrate her blended marriage, her responsibility as a mother to three daughters of color, and her passion to lift young women on their journeys of community development and leadership into her truest self.

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When leaders critically examine their social identity, privilege, and positionality, they become clear about when to engage in self-promotion and when to use their power to lift up and liberate the skills and talents of others. This style of liberatory leadership invites leaders into humbled, courageous excellence that inspires greater equity and justice in organizations, systems, and society as a whole. This chapter highlights the author’s experiences grappling with both her gender and her race and how it has shaped her understanding of humility within personal relationships and organizations. It invites the reader to reflect on his/her/their own social identity and how it impacts their approach to leading and leadership with courageous yet humbled excellence.

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This story crosses two continents and takes place in Russia and the United States. It is unique as it follows my emotional responses to events that took place first, during my childhood and later, during transformational and volatile periods in the history of Russia. Simultaneously, the story should resonate with any woman who experienced adversity, was rerouted from her native place, had to witness collective upheavals of her people, and came to realize a strong connection between her experiences and her leadership path. This is the story of a bicultural woman’s courage, hope, and resilience.

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This chapter explores the courageous life of pioneering gender equality advocate and activist, Professor Dianne Bevelander.

We examine Dianne’s courageous professional journey in which she placed gender equality and diversity squarely – and unavoidably – on the agenda of a male-dominated international business school and leading to the founding of the trailblazing and award-winning Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations(ECWO).

Dianne’s courage shines through her personal battle with terminal cancer that compelled her to climb metaphorical mountains repeatedly, while never losing sight of her limitless commitment to promoting the influence and position of women.

Dianne’s journey is a compelling case study of how high passion and high resilience increase the likelihood of achieving one’s life and career goals. It also reveals how identifying one’s passion and developing resilience lowers the stress one experiences in the pursuit of those goals. Most importantly, Dianne’s story shows how passion and resilience combine to enhance one’s capacity to overcome obstacles without burning out or giving up no matter what obstacles one faces.

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What courage is required for an emerging leader to run for office as an independent candidate in a contested election? What changes when that leader is a young woman, challenging the status quo in a male-dominated political field? And finally, how does courage intersect leadership, what is required, learned, and tested when running for office means risking one’s life? This is the story of an emerging leader, Linda K. Sibanyoni, a candidate for political office from Zimbabwe, who is leading change in her community and who is willing to exercise the courage required to do so in new, different, and unexpected ways. Her lived experience is underpinned by the intersection of gender, power, and politics. From this story of trial, courage, and risk comes discussion around the leadership practices required for change in uncertain and unstable systems.

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This chapter traces the life and leadership journey of the Honorable Marie Rex Sukers. Born in the Western Cape, South Africa, the unconventional trajectory of Marie’s life is evident right from her conception. Throughout her life, Marie grasped opportunities to rise above her personal circumstances which were exacerbated by the all-pervading and deep-seated discrimination in her country. Her courage and resilience culminated in Marie being appointed to the esteemed position of Member of the South African Parliament in 2019. Working in a hostile democratic environment unleashed continuous rounds of personal and institutional challenges, each begging for transformational power and fresh courage.

This chapter uses two theoretical models, Van Doorn’s Double Helix Leadership theory and Kinnear’s Leadership Power Tensions Model to describe how Marie’s life and career illustrates how all women, when they find themselves at the pinnacle of accomplishment, wade through cycles of disillusionment or disappointment to land just where they are meant to be. Rich learning insights emerge from Marie, a heroine on a profound journey upcycling leadership into personal courage and deeper, authentic power. Our chapter provides guidelines and the “know-how” to transform your leadership power for a better world, both personally and globally.

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This chapter describes how Astronaut and Aerospace Engineer, Jeanette Epps, dealt with the ambiguity of being pulled from a space flight by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), leveraged emotional intelligence to adapt to the challenge, solidified valuable leadership lessons on resilience, courage, and vulnerability, and provides advice for female leaders on navigating the leadership labyrinth. Fundamentally, the hardship Epps experienced deepened her sense of purpose and leadership identity, making her an exceptional role model for female leaders everywhere.

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“Being second” refers to a state of mind, an acceptance of circumstance, being content knowing that you are living your life, and not relying on others to dictate what your “best life” should look like. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to make this journey. This chapter recounts Battalion Chief Jodi Gabelmann’s journey to peace and pride in a well-lived career in the male-dominated, family-centric world of fire and emergency medical services. Dr Judith Glick-Smith ties Chief Gabelmann’s story to the theoretical underpinnings of her story.

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Leaders in the public service are continually challenged with the requirement to enhance citizen-centered services while decreasing the cost to provide them. Administrative processes and approvals require significant lead-up time to engage the public, discuss proposals and changes with numerous staff levels, public advisory committees, and finally, Council. Implementation is a whole other process. Often issues are cross-sectoral and require multidisciplinary actions to be effective. The labyrinth of achieving success and better outcomes is exciting and requires courage, innovation, and a certain nimbleness. This chapter speaks to the experiences of a senior level public servant who has the way. Concepts such as leadership styles, value-driven teams, appreciative inquiry, pride, and alignment, managing change, and self-care are discussed.

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This is a narrative describing events that led to four women finding their courage to save a nonprofit. Theirs was not the kind of courage that you see in movies where a hero saves the planet. Their courage was subtle, faint, and quiet. Their courage was driven by conviction and belief that someone must always do the right thing, despite the circumstance. The situation and circumstance were a local nonprofit organization being put at risk. That risk would have expanded into the community and impacted the human service work of the organization. The courage in this narrative includes whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is action that is generally considered to be most difficult, due to the potential impact on personal income and reputation. It took courage for three women, who remain anonymous to this day, to become whistleblowers. These women took a risk; they became vulnerable to fear of exposure, as they put their family incomes and personal reputations on the line. This is also the story of a novice chairwoman of a passive board of directors. She was forced to step outside her comfort zone to find and claim her courage. She was tasked with protecting the whistleblowers, addressing the issues, and resolving the problem. Yes, courage is just a seven-letter word, but when you are involved in a situation or circumstance, the weight of courage can feel monumental. The courage of four women and the seven-letter word courage saved the reputation, the service to the community, and the nonprofit organization.

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This chapter describes the experience of a tenured, senior professional leader (chief executive officer [CEO]) of a nonprofit human service organization. Although strongly supported by the board, she was harassed by a small group of board members and a couple of their friends (nonboard members), who insisted she take actions that would circumvent legitimate board process. Their actions would have resulted in “underground communications” and unilateral decisions. By speaking up and calling them out, the board became divided and conflicted, culminating in the resignation of the CEO. The scholarly commentary that follows the story adds a framework for explaining how important it is to maintain a moral compass, to hold fast to personal integrity, and to refuse to keep silent in the face of adversity. By sounding the alarm, the chaos and disruption exposed the plan to take power and control from the board. Being courageous may not be intentional or include actions of choice; it stems from the belief that it is the right thing to do… therefore, acting on moral courage can mitigate remorse. You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity (Epicurus).

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This chapter tells the story about early career leadership lessons that have endured across a lifetime. The lessons were moments during my early years as an officer in the US Air Force when courageous leadership was required and fostered by my superiors. The key practices of self-assessing to identify strengths and areas for learning, utilizing emotional intelligence to establish and maintain professional collaborative relationships, and speaking truth to power are leadership behaviors that continue to be valuable even as my career transitioned from the Air Force to higher education, both as a professor and as an administrator. The interesting thing about these leadership lessons is that they are now broadly accepted components of effective leadership and included in leadership research and literature. These practices have anchored my leadership through the years and are essential practices to be cultivated in developing leaders.

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In this chapter, I share my courage story. I have waited 14 years to share my story, and in honor of all the women who also shared their courage stories in this book, I knew I needed to open my heart to vulnerability and, also, share mine. Sharing a courage story is a courageous act in and of itself. Women often resist owning their courage, knowing they essentially do what they need to do to take care of their work, families, friends, and communities. But, sometimes, women need courage to survive a traumatic event. This is the case in my story, which I hope is beneficial to anyone facing domestic or emotional abuse. My story is of a long walk through a painful labyrinth, and how I survived while working, raising a family, and a maintaining a home.

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Sometimes a person’s tomorrows are not what they planned. What do you do when an expected future defies all logic and the life you prepared for through years of careful planning and sacrifice no longer exists?

Travel with Dr Noble as she guides you through her journey – from a life of sheer happiness and bliss to one of heartache and then utter devastation while she careened from one personal tragedy to the next during the darkest of days. Not only will you explore these experiences through her lens, but also you will learn about the ways in which she emerged from these tragedies stronger, braver, and more determined. With love in her heart and peace in her soul, she is honoring her late husband by living life courageously and seeking joy.

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is real. It is also a process – a process that can take days or years to work through. In this chapter, Dr Noble will share the strategies she developed during her PTG period and the valuable personal lessons she learned as she began to heal and moved forward to carve out a new future for herself.

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Prior to retirement from the military, Dr. Carly Speranza served for over 20 years in the United States Air Force as an active-duty Intelligence Officer. She led hundreds of personnel, deployed eight times across the globe, maintained a longdistance marriage with an Air Force Officer, and raised a daughter where few female leaders, let alone mothers, were present. This chapter will explore a few of her most challenging professional obstacles unique to single women in a man’s world or later having a child mid-career. In both instances, she had no female role model and blind to the way ahead, courageously navigated her way to success in a man’s world.

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Abstract

The journey to establish one’s core identity is a lifelong and tumultuous path represented as traversing a series of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. The journey unfolds over time, includes repeating cycles, and presents challenges when one must develop an identity to align with a new and unfamiliar role, such as that of a leader. Similar to one’s core identity, a leadership persona is dynamic and involves multiple transitions over time. The role of a leader and characteristics of leadership are often undefined and represent additional obstacles for women. Women in leadership positions shape their leader identities while navigating a labyrinth of barriers and contradicting directions.

This chapter highlights the dynamics of female leader identity through the story of one woman, Dr. Sylvie Raver, as she established her core identity and then worked to create her leader persona. Dr. Raver’s persona as a leader is dynamic and will continue to evolve throughout her lifetime. This story underscores how imposter sentiments can either hinder an individual’s growth along their journey or be used as a catalyst to help propel them forward in their professional life. Ultimately, the chapter emphasizes the importance of realizing that each aspect of oneself does not live isolated from another. Instead, all facets of identity can work together to shape both one’s core and leader identities.

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When Dr Constance Scharff met Wes Geer, founding member of the band Hed PE and former touring guitarist for Korn, she was already a recognized figure in the addiction and mental health treatment field. In particular, she is known for her insight and leadership assisting healthcare professionals working at the nexus of addiction and trauma. It was not a surprise to her when Geer asked her to join Rock to Recovery, to help expand its business.

As she stepped into her leadership role with the charity, she faced a unique set of challenges. One of the musicians she worked with overdosed and died, and changes in regulations hurt accessibility to addiction treatment. Almost overnight, the company lost a significant amount of business, but more damaging was the potential for the groups’ mental health to be undermined. This chapter describes Dr Scharff’s evolving leadership during those losses and how she helped the group develop and ultimately thrive.

Dr Caroline Heldman, Chair of the Critical Theory and Social Justice Department at Occidental College, analyzes Dr Scharff’s experiences. She reveals how it is crucial in organizations like Rock to Recovery for leaders to embrace a compassionate leadership model. She also details the ways inwhich Dr Scharff had to overcome gendered leadership stereotypes to be an effective member of the Rock to Recovery team. Dr Heldman holds special insight into Rock to Recovery, as it was her brother, Christian, who died in 2018.

Abstract

Authenticity is being real and true to oneself and outwardly expressing that truth. Authenticity is not a leadership style, but rather a practice that will empower you and others each time you choose to reveal it. It is also not about bearing your soul or sharing every intimate part of yourself to those you lead. Rather, it is consistently demonstrating your concerns, enthusiasm, strengths, weaknesses, learning, and vision.

Choosing to be authentic as a leader will reward you with a deeper connection with those you lead and foster courage in them. Discovering your authenticity can be painful and sometimes awkward, but even those moments of pain and discomfort can be powerful model of healthy vulnerability for others. Authenticity and vulnerability are not generally rewarded and are often challenged in our society. Therefore, it is easy to slide back into staying hidden and stoic. True authenticity then is a daily, sometimes moment by moment, choice.

This chapter describes an experience of finding authentic expression as a leader and how challenges will test that authenticity. Values, vulnerability, and vision are described and presented as anchors for choosing authenticity as a daily practice.

Index

Pages 373-381
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Cover of Women Courageous
DOI
10.1108/9781839824227
Publication date
2021-11-25
Editors
ISBN
978-1-83982-423-4
eISBN
978-1-83982-422-7