This is Leadership: The Glass Cliff


…when situations are tough and rough, institutions may look for a change of face and pace

It is somewhat advocated that Women in Leadership positions will achieve greatness than men in same spots and situations when institutions are in crisis and where the chance of failure is highest.  Many have argued.

Others also contend that the statement cannot be fully true as packaged and delivered. Some are also of the view that if the concept of the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘mommy track’ days still exist in a current undefined frilly amoeba-like form, then leadership authorities must tell us more.

May be, just maybe, that’s the reason why I have to share this with you one more time. My submission is not to touch the tail of the tiger. It is to trigger academic and organizational discussions as practitioners and professionals seek to harmonize total workplace relationships, opportunities and equalities to demand continuous performance.

British Professors Michelle K. Ryan and Alexander Haslam of Exeter University in 2005, carried out extensive work in the United Kingdom, in the area of Women in Leadership. Their findings were relevant to academia and industry and they were subsequently credited with the term ‘The Glass Cliff’.

In their work, they arrived at a point as part of their discovery that women have better chances of smashing the glass ceiling if not breaking through when organizations go through crisis. As part of their verdicts, they concluded that women are willing to accept and succeed in risky leadership positions than their male counterparts when institutions are struggling to find their feet. The glass cliff is a relative of the glass ceiling.

The twist here is that, women are promoted if not elevated into positions of power when things are not well at the workplace. It appears as though when situations are tough and rough, institutions may look for a change of face and pace of a woman as it is often believed they may not find it in a man who would have been their ideal and typical executive.

To the point, women will pleasantly save the day than men, especially when institutions face reputational risks, continuous fall of share prices or market share and when institutions face numerous organizational scandals.

For example, after Yahoo lost significant share of the market to Google in 2014, Marissa Mayer, was appointed CEO to bring relative calm, build new and strategic alliances as well as working hard to reengineer a receptive corporate image.

So, is it to say that women are more risk takers than men are? In general terms, this question may not get a favourable answer but the glass cliff research focused largely on the opportunities for women and minorities when institutions go through challenges (Hughes et al 2015). Although the focus of the research is largely on workplace and organizational decisions affecting women, it is also applicable in politics.

Researchers extended their work to also include job seekers and employers. In practice, companies that intend to protect their image will recruit and position more women at strategic units, departments and levels. It is also confirmed that organizations with a good mix of women in their boardrooms look beyond profit to focus on sustainability.

This is Leadership!

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