So I don't know if any of you heard, but the U.S. finally offed Bin Laden last week, but by Thursday the web was abuzz with discussion of the now infamous Situation Room photo with President Obama looking stoic and presidential and Secretary of State Clinton looking concerned and with her hand in front of her mouth.
Was she worried? Upset? Scared? Feeling Maternal? Confused by her ovaries in some other way?
Oy vey. Enough already. The woman had her hand in front of her face-that's it. She was not crying hysterically, clutching prayer beads, or holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah with her neighbor at the table.
Why does every reaction by a woman in a position of leadership provoke concern or questioning by the media? It's 2011 and yet if a woman is in command she not only needs to perform her duties better than a male counterpart but she needs to look and behave like a man while she's doing it. And woe betide the woman who expresses emotion about a difficult decision:she'll be labeled as "dramatic" or worse yet, "tenderhearted." Then of course if she doesn't react enough, she's a bitch.
It's the age old double standard. President Obama gets flack for being emotionless, but the same behavior from a woman would mean she's able to put aside her feminine qualities. Really? Is that what it takes for a woman to be in charge in 2011?
I am biased obviously, because I am female. But here is the raw truth of it, I have had male and female managers, and I have been a manager myself. Through every part of my professional life over the last 8 years I believe my gender, my experiences as a mother, and my experiences running a family have made me better at what I do, more capable, more creative, and more determined to find the best outcome.
Women are still perhaps more in touch with their emotional selves, and that isn't a leadership deficit, it's an asset. Being able to fairly assess your colleagues based on not only their professional skills, but also based on their emotional intelligence makes for a healthier work place. To be fair I have also had male leaders who were more emotionally in tune and provided better management than any of their female counterparts in the same organization.
It's about leadership skills-not gender-and again, it's 2011.
I think what may have annoyed me most about the whole debate is the fact that Mrs. Clinton had to wade into the fray and state she thought it was a symptom of her spring allergies...Really? So it's ok to have the sniffles, but not cover your mouth in shock at a display of violence and the end of an era for our country?
I do not want leaders at work or the leaders of our country making decisions and reacting to them with only the analytical part of themselves. I want the whole enchilada-I want leaders who are engaging both their heads and hearts in their decision making. I want leaders who reflect upon their decisions and what the consequences of them are for the people on the other end of the bomb, raid, or embargo.
I want leaders who recognize that decisions have ramifications that can't be analyzed in a completely clinical way-there is a human cost to every endeavor and leadership that doesn't acknowledge that fact is at its best, ignorant, at its worst, incompetent.