A heroic ideal of leadership, which excludes women and is deeply rooted in Australian cultural mythology. Historical accounts and popular folklore have elevated our belief in the redemptive powers of solitary, courageous men who triumph through endurance, stamina and self-reliance.
Amanda Sinclair, 1998
Leadership is associated with the lone and powerful, self-reliant male. Notions of collaboration and collective leadership are viewed as weakness. Women in leadership roles that I have experienced have succeeded by perpetuating this image. Does that mean that unless women adopt this approach, they can never really succeed in leadership?
Statues from ancient societies remind us of the awesome powers of goddesses and high priestess. Mythology around the Amazons and Valkyries also painted women as fearless and powerful individuals. Yet, over time these models faded as patriarchal forms of authority became the norm. These were the result of a range of factors, including the different modes of economic production and the impact that then had on family structures.
As we move towards a more global, networked society where information technology is becoming a predominant tool, allowing a highly collaborative and flexible workforce that is valuing innovation and creativity, will our current notion of leadership begin to change?