The purpose of this presentation is to explore the subject of public leadership with regard to gender inequality and modern theories and trends.
Public leader: Definition
Public leader is a person who holds a public office and exercises considerable influence over the way in which communities deal with issues.
- Have formal powers
- Have the capacity to mobilize attention and resources
- Are authorized to make strategic decisions
- Can initiate policies
- Can change the strategy of the organization
- Manage resources
- Can change the rules for decision-making
- Shape the agenda (Hart & Tummers, 2019)
A public leader is a person who holds a public office and exercises considerable influence over the way in which communities deal with issues. Much of the literature on public leadership focuses on people who have formal authority in government and public services: elected and appointed politicians at all government levels and public officials working for the government and public services. The most typical examples of public leaders are presidents, mayors, ministers, heads of government agencies, members of constitutional courts, and police commissioners.
Public leaders have certain formal powers and the capacity to mobilize attention and resources, are authorized to make strategic decisions, can initiate policies, change the strategy of organizations, manage resources, change the rules for decision-making, and focus the agenda of their system on particular issues.
Public leadership: New perspective
Public leadership is mobilizing individuals, organizations, and networks to formulate and/or enact purposes, values, and actions which aim or claim to create valued outcomes for the public sphere (Hartley, 2018).
In recent decades, the perception of public leadership has changed towards the focus on its contribution to the wider public interest. In the most recent studies, public leadership is defined as mobilizing individuals, organizations, and networks to formulate and/or enact purposes, values, and actions which aim or claim to create valued outcomes for the public sphere. In view of these changes, public leaders can have no formal position of authority and be found across public organizations, in civil society groups, in the media, and in the online world.
Leadership theories and styles
- Public value leadership (Connolly, 2020)
- Servant leadership (Gocen & Sen, 2020)
- Implicit leadership theory (Vogel & Werkmeister, 2020)
As the perceptions of public leadership change, several leadership theories and styles come to the foreground.
– The first is public value leadership that focuses on leadership creating public value and contributing to society. Within this approach, public value is seen as an organizing principle in a public sector organization, and the leader is responsible for creating the environment in which individual employees are free to pursue and propose new ideas on how to better pursuit public values (Connolly, 2020).
The second theory is that of servant leadership, which refers to the focus on leaders who serve their followers, producing a shared spirit in purpose, trust, commitment, desire for wisdom, and effort in the organization (Gocen & Sen, 2020).
For leadership analysis, implicit leadership theories are now most widely used in research and practice. They are concerned with a labeling process and examine how individuals perceive effective leaders. It helps to better understand the desired characteristics of a leader and develop more effective leadership styles (Vogel & Werkmeister, 2020).
Gender diversity in leadership
In 2019, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29% (Women in management: Quick take, 2020).
The higher up the corporate ladder, the fewer women.
Leading positions both in public and private organizations have traditionally been occupied mostly by men. The recent decades have witnessed an increase in the representation of women in senior management and government positions. In 2019, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29%, which is the highest number ever recorded (Women in management: Quick take, 2020). However, gender inequality is still the case in leadership.
The higher up the corporate ladder, the fewer women are represented in management positions. According to the statistics, women account for 47% of the support staff and for only 23% of higher executives (Women in management: Quick take, 2020). In the public sector, women are also underrepresented at all levels of government.
Gender diversity in leadership
In the private sector, female leadership, Board of Director’s gender diversity, and gender equality have a positive impact on competitive advantage (Yoomeidinar et al., 2020).
In the public sector, bringing women into leadership allows governments and organizations to achieve inclusive and representative policy outcomes (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2016).
Bringing the gender divide in public and corporate life is not only a matter of fairness but also of effective governance and economic growth. Studies show that in the private sector, female leadership, Board of Director’s gender diversity, and gender equality have a positive impact on competitive advantage (Yoomeidinar et al., 2020). In the public sector, bringing women into leadership allows governments and organizations to achieve inclusive and representative policy outcomes.
Barriers to leadership for women
- Patriarchal leadership structures
- Gender stereotypes
- Limited work-life balance
- Lack of leadership training programs for women
- Lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms (OECD, 2016)
The analysis of the current trends in public and corporate sectors points to a range of common barriers thwarting women’s access to the top. These barriers include patriarchal leadership structures, gender stereotypes, limited work-life balance and flexible working arrangements, absence of leadership training programs for women, and a lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure the sustainability and policy-effectiveness of gender equality measures.
Role of government and political parties
- Measures to promote gender diversity in parliamentary and executive bodies: disclosure requirements, voluntary targets, parity law, and linking gender ratios of political parties to their access to public funding.
- Measures to enable equal access to opportunities in senior public service and judicial appointments.
- Promoting family-friendly work practices and gender-sensitive working conditions.
- Providing leadership development opportunities and introducing training programs for women, promoting female role models in public life, and encouraging active engagement of men in promoting gender equality (OECD, 2016).
In 2015, the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life developed a range of recommendations for governments and political parties aimed to achieve gender-balanced representation in decision-making positions.
These recommendations include, first, regulatory or voluntary measures to promote gender diversity in parliamentary and executive bodies, such as disclosure requirements, quotas, voluntary targets, parity laws, and linking gender ratios on political parties to their access to public funding.
Second, measures to enable equal access to opportunities in senior public service and judicial appointments that include introducing disclosure requirements, targets, or quotas and providing open competition and clear requirement standards.
Third, promoting family-friendly work practices and gender-sensitive working conditions.
Forth, providing leadership development opportunities and introducing training programs for women, promoting female role models in public life, and encouraging active engagement of men in promoting gender equality.
Public leadership trends
Within the next decade, several trends in public leadership are predicted to continue. The first is that public leaders will have to adapt to the constantly changing environment. The pace of change has already increased significantly in all spheres of public life, and leaders need to be able to keep track of the new developments and effectively address them. The second is the rapid development of technologies that influences the public sector and transforms the requirements for effective leadership. The third is the expansion of gender and racial diversity in leading positions that changes the ways governments and organizations approach public leadership and shapes the social agenda.
The recent decades have witnessed a transformation of the role of a public leader. While traditionally, it was associated with men having formal authority in the government and public offices, over the last decades, the perceptions of public leadership have changed significantly. Modern public leadership practices focus on public value, and an increasing number of women have been involved in the public and private sectors. Applying the knowledge from this course to practice, I will put my efforts into creating a leadership environment within the company or organization that will be based on the principles of diversity, innovation, and public value.