Bringing Down the Glass Ceiling - PR and Female Leadership: Part 1, PR Lessons from Female Leadership Styles

One of the things that add thrill to the 2016 Philippine elections is the possibility that women will be occupying the two highest offices in the country.

Senator Grace Poe has topped recent surveys on presidential preferences. Congresswoman Leni Robredo caught the national spotlight when she the heeded pleas of those who want her to run for vice-president. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Asia’s Iron Lady, took social media by storm when she announced her third bid for the presidency.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Meanwhile in the United States, former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is more determined than ever to return to the White House as America’s first woman president.  Indeed, the thought of a third female Filipino president and a first woman as America’s chief executive is a feast for our imagination.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Female leaders inspire much awe and capture our imagination because more often than not, their successes meant they stood out in a world dominated by men.  And while gender gaps in leadership roles are yet to be bridged, those who have stood out teach us something: successful female leadership needed and used effective public relations.

At the onset, aspiring female leaders have to overcome how others perceive them negatively. As they set out to conquer such negative perceptions, these female leaders found ways to use their femininity, and establish themselves as the leaders that their constituencies or organizations need.

According to Caroline Dowd-Higgins, author of This is Not the Career I Ordered, the following characteristics give female leaders credibility and success:

  • Female leaders are eager to learn.
  • Female leaders communicate openly.
  • Female leaders are visionaries, they put their ideas into action, and inspire their committed colleagues.
  • Women listen actively and promote inclusive, team-building leadership style of solving problems and making decisions.
  • Women’s persuasive qualities are characterized by their assertiveness, not aggressiveness.

A study published in the Journal of International Affairs also revealed that female national leadership in ethnically diverse nations is correlated with a 6.6 percent increase in GDP growth compared to having a male national leader. According to the study, people prefer female leaders during difficult situations where cooperative and inclusive practices are required. 

Since PR is about effective communication, problem-solving and establishing credible images, female leaders’ communication and leadership styles give lessons and insights that would help PR practitioners achieve their goals.

But because female leaders respond to different and unique situations, the images they form of themselves vary, depending on what need they are trying to address, or the strategies they use to succeed in their goals.

In the second part of this series, we explore the different images and reputations that different women leaders built as they pursued their goals to succeed in male-dominated worlds.

We at M2.0 Communications thrive because of diversity, collaboration and inclusivity. We also understand that messages are not just about what is said, but also how they are conveyed. That is why we guide leaders on how they can talk to their audiences confidently and with the right brand messages.

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