Help Make My Point

May 11 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Next week I must address the need to lead in a workshop for female faculty members. A fair number of junior faculty I meet, particularly women, have few advancement goals. They are grateful to have a reasonable job in the geographic area they desire.

Why should they want to move up the chain of command?

I am looking for answers to this question.

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The most obvious reasons to pursue leadership positions are for yourself. Moving up brings you accolades and opportunities. Leaders control resources and help shape their institutions. They are "The Deciders" and this role can be fun and rewarding.

Of course, other people may motivate someone to leadership. Those resources and decisions can make life better for patients, students, and employees. Many women shy away from personal ambition; by focusing on these altruistic goals, they can achieve without guilt.

Why else should faculty pursue leadership roles? Can we frame our encouragement another way?

I'm waiting for you answers...

8 responses so far

  • D. C. Sessions says:

    The only 2 reasons that ever tempted me were:

    * that I could do projects as a leader that I couldn't do as an individual contributor.
    * If I didn't, someone else would -- and then I'd be stuck cleaning up the consequences.

  • Gary Beck says:

    Well you know I'm not a woman (don't even go there, Pascale). I would disagree with your primary reason for pursuing leadership. I don't see it as a means of bringing accolades. My internal drive isn't even honestly forward leadership roles, but to make a difference. If that means working with the team and eventually leading then I will.

    You and I both know someone whose drive to be a leader taints everything he does. His reasons for being a leader are skewed. He wants the recognition and the accolades and they are always out of his reach because his motivation for leadership is self-serving.

    The best leaders are those who have that unique blend of humility coupled with personal ambition to lead a committee or organization to its highest level of success. I think Jim Collins hits on many of these principles in Good to Great and Great by Choice.

    • Pascale says:

      Don't get me wrong; naked ambition is insufficient to make you a leader. But the group I'm dealing with sees wanting to achieve as wrong. Women are often socialized to serve others but to decline getting rewarded for it with money or titles or power (even though those would help them serve those constituents better). If I were dealing with a male group, I would never feel like I had to give them permission to admit that they want to achieve (and FB would be absolutely discouraged from any interactions with human beings). With women, it's often half the battle.

  • Dev says:

    Why aren't you even admitting that power is associated with corruption and that the tools to show females the road to leadership are marked with flags tainted with corruption. So it is not just by social nature by the female side. Males have polluted the road to power.

    • Pascale says:

      I do not believe that men are more prone to corruption with power than women; as women achieve leadership roles some seem to be as corruptible as the menfolk. I also believe you can be a leader without becoming a corrupt force for evil.

      One of the benefits of pursuing leadership roles is that you will be at the table as part of the decision making process. That's why we need to tell women it's OK to want to do this, even if it's less about helping others than achieving personal satisfaction.

      I am also addressing leadership roles within academic medical centers. I do not see a particularly egregious taint of corruption in the places I have worked. Stuff I disagree with, yes (thus my desire to be at the table), but not necessarily criminal or even shady activity.

  • Dev says:

    So, one issue is that females are actually being used to clean up the way to make it easier for the 'recharged' male leadership. It does not seem honest, and I believe that is one of the problems.

    For example, the birth control issue in health coverage. It makes sense to me that it should be locally set up and the best products made, which keeps permanent jobs. That ould be a better way to smooth the road to true leadership.

    But, notice it's not going that way, rather you encounter a big crowd of 'hysterical females' demanding payment fro 'safe sex'.

    Did I make my point clear?

    Don't ignore my comment.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    Whether one wants to lead, some times circumstances demand it. We changed from quarters to semesters. It was clear to me that we needed a transition year, so that students in the pipeline on quarters could transition into semesters without loss of momentum. When a student comes in and says "Why are the courses I need to graduate no longer offered?", "I dunno." is not an acceptable answer. Our chair was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and could not face the matter. No one else seemed concerned. So I did it, and it all worked fine.

    If there is danger that the sun will not come up tomorrow, and no one cares, you may decide that the costs of taking on leadership are less than the cost of eternal darkness.

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