International Women’s Day
This year, it is under the theme Women’s Leadership: for an Egalitarian Future in the World of COVID-19, that UN Women has deployed its efforts for the organization of Women’s Rights International Day. Women leadership is a term that is sometimes misunderstood and still often misperceived. How is it so different from leadership at all?
According to Janie Duquette, Women’s Leadership Specialist, it is wrong to believe that to be a leader in her community, a woman must behave like a man. It is through authenticity, empathy, intuition, creativity and listening that women will stand out. Assuming your femininity and putting it forward is also essential.
This is also the vision of Ms. Isabelle Gauthier, Executive Director of the Bagotville MFRC, who shares with us that:
“Women’s leadership begins, first of all, with working on oneself: asserting oneself as a leader while maintaining one’s authenticity to gain influence, while maintaining a good balance between professional and family life.”
Major Kristen Cohen, Wing Air Traffic Controler, also supports these remarks by stating that:
“Three leaders who inspire me today are: LGen Frances Allen, CAF; Michelle Obama; and Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister. All three women lead with compassion and kindness, yet are resilient, have a voice, and are confident in making difficult decisions. They prove that we can be both empathic and strong. ”
For her part, Ms. Nadine Belley-Traoré, Communications Coordonator to Wcomd, 3 wing, says that women leadership is made up of very positive assets which are nevertheless perceived negatively:
“For me, in its finest expression, this concept refers to positive values of listening, openness, inspiration and communication. Characteristics often referred to as ‘feminine’ and which, over time, have been used as a disincentive to explain the lack of women in positions of authority and/or power.”
As a woman revolving around the military lifestyle, it is essential to emphasize the unique qualities that you have developed in response to your reality. To join the forces or to choose to share your life with a soldier, you need a lot of love, but also a unique personality. Frequent moves, atypical schedules and extended absences while being far from your resources add a load on your shoulders. In addition to these constraints, let’s face it, the last year has not been easy.
Today, we would like to say thank you for everything you do and also pay tribute to you by highlighting your resilience, your resourcefulness, your independence and your leadership. These strengths, even if you do not always see them, are within you on a daily basis. You don’t have to be perfect, you just be yourself and do your best every day! Never lose sight of your authenticity which makes you the wonderful woman that you are!
Women’s Leadership through the Eyes of Ms. Nadine Belley-Traoré, Communications Coordonator to Wcomd, 3 wing.
I really like the term feminine leadership! I think that it gives a whole new dimension to the word leadership, which is too often overused. For me, in its finest expression, this concept refers to positive values of listening, openness, inspiration and communication. Characteristics often referred to as ‘feminine’ and which, over time, have been used as a disincentive to explain the lack of women in positions of authority and/or power.
Today, these qualities are being promoted as being among the best ways to successfully motivate and positively guide people and the changes needed to improve our society in addition to identifying women as excellent leaders.
I find it difficult and almost pretentious to proclaim myself a leader, so it is with great humility that I share my vision of leadership with you. For me, it is above all about being passionate and trying to communicate this passion to others. To sincerely want to improve things and to do it collectively, therefore by inspiring people to also seek to become better and to do better. It’s about having the courage to follow one’s convictions and showing respect and empathy.
I have been inspired throughout my life by an exceptional woman. A strong woman, with political, social and moral convictions focused on equality and equity. This woman is my mother. A fervent feminist activist, she taught me through her words, but especially through her actions and struggles, the importance of taking one’s place and to do good. She taught me that the private is political and should start by being an agent of change at home. I therefore keep in mind her teachings to maintain balance in my personal and professional life.
Even after my long reflection before writing this text, I still don’t know if I am really a feminine leader, but what I know without a doubt is that I love people and feel that I can contribute to my community. I also know that I am a passionate person and that I want to share this passion with the people around me to make a positive difference in the smallest and most important moments of life as often as possible.
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Women’s Leadership through the Eyes of Major Kristen Cohen, Wing Air Traffic Controler, 3 Operational Support Squadron, CFB Bagotville.
Leadership is not gender specific, albeit there are certain differences in the basic traits and qualities possessed by women leaders that, unsurprisingly, set us apart. To me, exceptional leaders (both male and female) embody three distinct qualities. First, they are confident and excel in their field, earning them the credibility and respect they require to make tough decisions. Secondly, they are excellent communicators, in both their ability to convey messages and motivate, but more importantly in their ability to listen.
Lastly, exceptional leaders are selfless and always put their people first. For the first quality, I believe that both men and women work equally hard to maintain professional competency, and to become a master in their field. However, I would argue that most female leaders very naturally embody the last two of these qualities effortlessly. I have been fortunate throughout my career to have served both with and for some truly outstanding female leaders, all whom inspire me to this day.
At a very early age, sport entered my life. Without hesitation, sport moulded my leadership style and approach to life in general. Throughout the years, it taught me the value of hard work, dedication, trust, selflessness, commitment, and primarily, the importance of teamwork. How do I perceive my own leadership style? I like to believe that I am empathetic and do my best to put my people and their families first, while fostering a culture of trust and teamwork.
Although I do not always do things right, I make it a priority to get to know my staff. This enables me to guide them through their own personal and professional growth, while accomplishing the team objectives. For me, the greatest reward in leading a team is observing growth and change within; both the growth of our members, but also what we accomplish together as a team.
Three leaders who inspire me today are: LGen Frances Allen, CAF; Michelle Obama; and Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister. All three women lead with compassion and kindness, yet are resilient, have a voice, and are confident in making difficult decisions. They prove that we can be both empathic and strong.
Leadership requires sacrifice: in our personal, family, and work life. Finding the balance between these sacrifices is an ongoing challenge—it takes a lot of patience, trust, and a little bit of grit. Above all else, we must do our best to ensure that, whatever sacrifice we make, both our team and our families know that we support them. How do I balance my work week and be a mom to two extraordinary kids?
Thankfully, I am surrounded by Officers and Senior NCOs who LEAD UP. I am lucky to share my life with and be supported by my biggest role model, my husband. I have a community of friends and family who are always in my corner. And lastly, my mother taught me that I should never take myself too seriously, and to never stop smiling; both have served me well and I will never stop applying them.
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
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Women’s Leadership through the Eyes of Ms. Isabelle Gauthier, Director of the Bagotville Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC)
I have always considered my work as an investment in my skills, my expertise and my future. Consequently, my leadership is reflected in the important place that the members of my team occupy. In this regard, I always tell everyone who joins this outstanding team that they are selected for the colours they can contribute to our organization’s evolution. Right from the very first moment, it’s essential for me to let each person aware of the impact of their involvement on who we are and where we want to be.
When people ask me about my background, I answer that what makes the manager that I am today is the result of communication, frankness, listening and trust maintained daily with those surrounding me.
These people generously provide me with a wealth of knowledge necessary to achieve my mandate. As a woman in a leadership position, this knowledge is crucial since a woman’s credibility is still often challenged.
Women at the head of an organization are often associated with an image of ideal motherhood, the natural caretakers of those around them. Undeniably, empathy, caring and listening are qualities generally attributed to women; these attributes make it possible to quickly gain people’s trust. At the helm of a team, these qualities facilitate exchanges and the sharing of ideas, which promote creativity and harmony.
Women’s credibility and leadership are based on how they are perceived. Not by the position they occupy, but by the posture they take. Their ability to guide and manage people is not gained through authority, but rather through their ability to define a purpose and a way to achieve it through communication and mobilization: to remain firm in substance, while being flexible in form.
Women’s leadership begins, first of all, with working on oneself: asserting oneself as a leader while maintaining one’s authenticity to gain influence, while maintaining a good balance between professional and family life.
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