Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal. Those were the first few words of the most famous speech (and the shortest ever delivered by any President) of Abraham Lincoln in what is now referred to as the Gettysburg address. As a leader you must always play up the importance of treating everyone equally and never to show favouritism on the grounds of gender.
In most societies, the women already feel marginalized and that leaves leaders with a little extra hard work to do while dealing with them to either prove to them that they are important to the team or leave them to wonder if they were ever needed on the team. I read a joke recently that centered on the society’s opinion of women and the restriction they have.
In the joke, as sent to me by a friend, a lady was wondering why those women with different male friends were labeled as prostitutes and the men with several ladies were seen as smart guys! A guy responded to him by saying, men and women are like keys and locks! The women are the locks and the men are the keys! When a lock (woman) can be opened by any key (man) then the lock (woman) is a bad one but when the key (man) can open any lock (woman), it is referred to as a master key!
With this standing and strong bias in the society already, you should never play into the dangerous trap of conspicuous gender preferences or deliberately promoting one gender above the other in your leadership role. You have to reasonably challenge and place a demand on each persons potential in such a way that what will matter is their ability to deliver results and not the gender they never had the opportunity of deciding since that was strictly Gods option!
Never forget that a leader is not supposed to be playing up weaknesses or giving one group an undue advantage over the other. You are supposed to be leading people and not leading just men or women. Even in cases where you have to lead only men or only women, you need to spend more time on content based issues rather than trying hard to convince one person or the other that one gender is stronger or one gender deserves more attention.
This is not to say that a leader does not recognize the frailty of a gender but it is important to note that playing up gender issues can easily get in the way of effective leadership and you may spend some precious time deciding whats supposed to be done for which group when you are supposed to focus on what a team can achieve!
Live and work by the rule that no gender is perfect and that no gender can live without the other gender. If there were no men, there would be no women! If there were no women, the would be no one to give birth to more men! That presupposes, as already said by Abraham Lincoln, that we were created equal. As a leader, treat everyone as if so one is and never will be more important!
© Fola Daniel Adelesi
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