How can we lead more fully and with purpose, to make others more powerful?
At the AGM in March 2017 we, the SAIMC leadership, ‘awoke’ to our context and previously systematised social reality. Although systematised reality in many cases is unconscious, it still remains a reality. We have challenged our unconscious ways of thinking, confronted our ideals (unconscious and conscious), shrugged off unconscious cultural influences and stood upright in virtuous fortitude. We have appointed Annemarie van Coller as SAIMC council member. (See ‘SAIMC: Secunda branch’ for more.) This was a conscious and deliberate action by the existing council to have a woman as part of the SAIMC leadership.
The ‘truth of time’ is that women are less empowered because of the unfounded stereotypes and cultural dimensions such as ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, which over the years equates masculinity with more and femininity with less. Like in many organisations, there’s never a conscious or deliberate intention to keep women away from the leadership roles, but this is never followed by a satisfying account for absence of women in those roles. Mostly, the answer lies in taking a courageous stance to unlearn and let go of many deeply-held beliefs, attitudes and fears, which are often unconscious.
Annemarie van Coller is part of the SAIMC Secunda branch committee, a Pr Eng professional and instrument area leader at Sasol Synfuels and passionate about social entrepreneurship. She is also actively involved in ECSA mentorship at the graduate development programmes at Sasol. Having active partners who continue to drive SAIMC forward, like Jane van der Spuy, Ina Maartens who runs our operations office, and another SAIMC delegate, Hanli Goncalves, who continues to spear the industry forward with events such as Africa Automation Fair, we believe that with the drive to intentionally diversify across all social spheres (e.g. gender), success is inevitable.
The prominent question, why this?
The answer is simple, we hold the belief that the inclusive leadership starts with the intention, a deliberate effort, of wanting to be the best for the world, and not necessarily the best in the world.
Kurt April, a seasoned leadership professor at the University of Cape Town asserts, “First, the role of the leader is to be the custodian of values, character and resources. Virtue must be understood and used in ways that heal and build the community, as opposed to appealing to old stereotypes. This involves hearing the minority voice, the marginalised stance, the ‘other’, and widening the conversation to help others cope with uncertainty and ambiguity, and avoiding the trap of absolutes, while teaching compassion (actionable empathy).”
Once again, we want women to help us lead the SAIMC, it does matter!
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