From ‘LeadHERship’ to ‘LeadOURship’: How women in families are driving a new guidance model

From ‘LeadHERship’ to ‘LeadOURship’: How women in families are driving a new guidance model
Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, executive coach and family business adviser Naveen Khajanchi explores the transformative role of women in steering families towards a more inclusive and collaborative future…
By Naveen Khajanchi
Naveen Khajanchi
Naveen Khajanchi

In the intricate tapestry of family life, women often emerge as the unsung architects - shaping as they do the foundation with their resilience and wisdom, yet paradoxically, facing undue criticism when adversity strikes. This phenomenon, rooted deeply within both traditional and contemporary societal structures, underscores the critical yet often overlooked role women play in the familial hierarchy. The evolution toward nuclear family models has further magnified the challenges faced by women, as they find themselves juggling the demanding roles of homemakers and silent contributors to family enterprises, frequently without the support and recognition they deserve.

A poignant illustration of this dynamic is the story of a homemaker who, in the wake of unexpected familial circumstances, assumed the mantle of leadership traditionally reserved for patriarchs. With remarkable acumen and innate intelligence, she convened an informal gathering of family members, both to acquaint herself with the nuances of the family business and to foster a spirit of inclusivity and collaboration. Her approach was revolutionary, proposing regular family meetings that would double as business discussions, inviting participation from all, including children. 

This initiative was not just about business; it was a profound statement on the value of every voice, irrespective of its role in the family's economic activities. Meetings in the workplace as the matriarch opened dialogue with an admission that 'I don’t know what I don’t know... I am here to understand and facilitate decisions that are good for the business, people and planet'.

This narrative exemplifies the necessity of fostering good values, such as health, education, self-acceptance, and self-awareness, alongside the virtues of adaptability and empathy. These values serve as the bedrock for constructive dialogues and collective well-being, enabling individuals and families to navigate the complexities of life with grace and resilience.

From ‘LeadHERship’ to ‘LeadOURship’: How women in families are driving a new guidance model

The shift towards nuclear families, while offering autonomy, also harbours the risk of isolation and fragmentation, threatening the very fabric of familial and societal cohesion. The focus on individualism, often at the expense of communal ties, poses significant challenges, particularly for the vulnerable segments of society, such as children, the elderly and the differently-abled. This disconnection not only undermines the support system essential for their well-being but also erodes the transmission of cultural and moral values that bind families and communities together.

In response to these challenges, it is imperative to cultivate a coexistence model that harmonises the autonomy of nuclear families with the broader context of community and interdependence. Initiatives such as communal gatherings and celebrations can serve as catalysts for fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Establishing ground rules and nurturing a collective identity can significantly enhance mutual understanding and cooperation, ensuring that every member contributes to and benefits from the collective prosperity.

As we celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, it’s crucial to recognise and honour the transformative role of women in steering families towards a more inclusive and collaborative future. The term ‘LeadHERship’ aptly embodies this ethos, advocating for a leadership model that is inclusive, empathetic, and resilient, thereby paving the way for ‘LeadOURship’ – a shared journey of growth, empowerment, and collective success.

In embracing this paradigm, we acknowledge the indispensable role of women in not only nurturing families but also in shaping societies that are more cohesive, compassionate, and resilient. It is a call to action for all, to recognise, support and celebrate the indomitable spirit of women as architects of change and custodians of values that enrich our lives and communities.

Naveen Khajanchi is the CEO of a leadership search firm and an executive coach. He has recently been featured in the Top 10 of Global family Business Influencers by FBU, of which he is part of the global think tank. He is also an Insead alumni.

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