Thursday, February 25, 2010

Women in Power - an Article on Power of Women to Lead

Women enjoy various positions of power and prominence in our society – teachers, corporate leaders, politicians, etc., but they are seldom seen as heads of states. If you try to count, you will surely find a few women who are heading states or look likely to head, but they are by far outnumbered by men. And it is not a current trend but a historical fact.

I read an article recently which didn’t refute the fact – that few women have led nations - but regretted it – because women, it said, when given an opportunity to lead, have not just proved equal to men but even better.

Queen Elizabeth I of England, Catherine II of Russia and Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Britain are points in case, the article informed.

The article, titled Women in Power, presented snippets of many women leaders but profiled Elizabeth, Catherine and Thatcher elaborately giving various facets of their personalities and leadership.

These women beat crude generalizations that attribute the ‘lack of women in leadership’ scenario to biological reasons, like men are inclined to competition and women, cooperation, compassion and similar soft characteristics which make them unsuited to the brutal game of power.

I think also the fact that the modern day female corporate leaders, who combine both the extremes – competitive instinct as also compassion - refute the generalization.

Or does a combination of the strong and soft traits help women understand their subjects as humans and lead them more effectively?

The article, published by the Geo magazine and authored by Mathias Mesenhollle, also informed that the feminine trio becoming leaders had less to do with biological inclinations (or lack of it) and more to do with circumstances: absence of male heir, political compulsion, etc. However, once in power they proved to be formidable leaders, although they made mistakes during their rule; they grew intolerant of dissent, incurred unpopularity and stifled rebellion. However, they became icons during their times.

The article detected another interesting trait of times. Slicing history between pre and post French Revolution, the article says after French Revolution, although class difference narrowed, gender difference widened. The number of women in state leadership declined after the revolution.

I would slightly differ with the author. Today, business is also a big avenue of leadership and women have proved very successful in various spheres of business leadership.

Of all the characters, I found Elizabeth most intriguing. She came to power against popular will and because there was no male heir to the throne. She asserted the prominence of England by severing ties with Rome. She snubbed the expansive plans of the ruler of Spain, who, underestimating the fact that England only had a woman to defend herself, had been pilling up army at its shores. This helped Elizabeth 1 to establish herself as a leader with her subjects. She was a spinster who turned down marriage proposals saying she was already married to her people. I will read up her biography.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Quotes by a Cerebral Celebrity

A few days ago I read the phrase cerebral celebrity and drew up a list of criteria that one needs to meet to qualify for the distinction. One has to be informed, of course opinionated, public service spirited, articulate and has to have contributed to something that has an impact on people at large. I removed journalists and writers from my list of contenders because these criteria are part of their job descriptions. When I looked at the film world, I found a few (very few). Mahesh Bhatt, the film director producer, was one of them. Mahesh Bhatt is many things rolled into one; a successful filmmaker, social activist, writer, opinion maker, etc. Also, he is a man who always has something interesting to say.

Mahesh Bhatt is on Tweeter and he hasn’t disappointed me and his other fans.

Here are some of Mahesh Bhatt’s Tweets:

"There is an awe making mechanism hardwired in humankind. This need to be (in) awe of someone or something shadows us all our life.”

“Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking!”

“I joined the world of movies when I was just 19.Having spent 40 yrs in it one thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure.”

“If you pray for rain, you gotta deal with the muck too.”

“Cinema is the means through which a nation can forge a common identity, a common purpose, and a common resolve.”
“Unless you stake all you have for what you believe in you can't possibly win!”

“As long as you want something from someone, there will always be someone out there to control you.”

“To survive in the show business you need guts and the ability to constantly resurrect and reinvent yourself.”

“Art, religion & the zeal to improve the lives of the human lot, spring from the frustration and impossibility of making any sense out of life.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Psychopathic Qualities You Need to be Corporate Leader

I have an interest in psychology. I read up anything on the subject I can lay my hands on. Recently the Hindu published an article that dealt with a psychic disorder which has spawned both novels and movies – the psychopathic syndrome.

The article approaches the problem taking Vito Corleaone, the famous Godfather character crafted by Mario Puzo, as an example to explain a special branch of psychic disorder: socially-enabled psychopath(y).

The article says a socially-enabled psychopath is very different from a conventional psychopath. A socially-enabled psychopath possesses many traits that make the person desirable.

An ordinary psychopath, the articles observes, suffers from social and emotional deficiencies. He fails to understand others’ mood and social cues in their correct context and acts in an inappropriate way. The psychopath also shows poor understanding of others’ emotions, and although he doesn’t lack emotions himself, he feels emotions so fleetingly that they fail to have any impact on how he perceives others.

The inability to gauge others’ emotions leads to the failure to understand how much aggression is required to coerce a subject into submission to achieve the desired goal; which results in display of excessive aggression by the psychopath.

A psychopath also has other personality traits like lack of sense of responsibility, a tendency to unnecessarily lie and propensity to attribute wrongs committed by him to a goal without any feeling of remorse, and judge right and wrong from an unconventional standpoint. (Honestly, I have some of these characteristics – expect I don’t lie unnecessarily.)

But how the socially-enabled psychopath is different from a prototype psychopath?

The article says both are same – they are psychopaths (to be a socially-enabled psychopath, you have to be a psychopath first) - and then talks about the differences.

First, citing Godfather Vito Corleaone as a case in point, the author looks at the Don’s actions in the book to deduce common psychopathic signs (not the socially-enabled ones).

The author says, “The primary (psychopathic) quality the Godfather possesses is the ability to be ruthless in achieving his own ends. The second psychopathic quality the Godfather exudes is a distorted reality of the impact of his actions; not in line with traditional views and beliefs, nor particularly empathetic. The third and the most striking trait the Godfather possesses is his ability to manipulate people and situations.”

But it’s not the similarities but the differences that make the Godfather, or the socially enabled psychopath, a successful leader in the world of corporations.

The Godfather seldom looses control over his emotions (not for him the psychotic hysteria so commonly seen in Hindi movies). He is a sensitive person who takes offence very easily and is perceptive of others’ mood. His ability to sense social and environmental cues is very advanced, unlike the usual psychopath.

A cool head, the ability to understand people (which helps manipulate them if necessary) and the intensity to chase a goal with psychopathic zeal make a socially-enabled psychopath a perfect leader, the article argues.

After all, isn’t effective leadership in a corporation about helping people and organizations achieve goals they set for themselves – placing the goals above concerns of ethics and morals?

I only have one question to ask the author – Dr Ennapadam S. Krisnamoorthy. Isn’t the socially-enabled psychopath too good to be true? Or did Mario Puzo know a thing or two about psychiatry?
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