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In Memory of LT Valerie C. Delaney, USN a foundation was established by her family to promote and support women in all fields and to inspire future generations of female leaders.  The foundation provides a yearly scholarship for one deserving woman and provides mentors to many women each year.  You can learn more about the Wings for Val Foundation at their website.

 

Becoming a strong female leader in the workplace can take a great deal of time and experience. Even the most naturally inclined leaders and the most confident women can struggle to assert themselves in professional environments, where there is often a unique atmosphere to get used to. There are plenty of ways to gain the experience needed to become a strong workplace leader, and first among them is experience in that workplace. But if you want to prepare yourself to exhibit leadership skills even in your early days in a company, you may want to give some thought to an MBA education.

The MBA is considered by some to be old fashioned. Dale Stephens of The Wall Street Journal even published a piece a couple years ago in which he argued that the MBA is not worth its generally hefty price tag, and that opinion has gained some steam in the time since. There’s certainly something to this: the MBA programs at most top schools can cost well over $100,000 in tuition, leading to burdensome student loan debt that can only be paid off by those who get the very best jobs after graduate school. But this sort of analysis tends to only address the most tangible values of an MBA—as in, the degree itself and the job you get after you obtain it.

The true value of advanced business education, for many women, is more intangible. The process of earning an MBA can help you to build a network, discover your talents and shortcomings, and figure out how you’ll best be able to succeed in business before you’re actually challenged to do so. And through these and other benefits, an MBA education can also serve as an invaluable means of developing workplace leadership skills.

For starters, you’ll have a better idea of your own qualities and ambitions, and that clear-headedness is a handy foundation for leadership. Alice van Harten of Menlo Coaching teaches this concept even to new students applying to business school. Her program helps students to craft MBA application essays, and the students rave about the chance to develop their own responses and understand their own experiences and goals. This understanding can drive an MBA education and help you to emerge as a young businesswoman with purpose and direction, rather than a young employee seeking a way to fit in.

Other intangibles articulated well by Get Rich Slowly’s J.D. Roth include elements of prestige and timing. While it sounds almost silly to say so, an MBA does still carry a certain level of prestige that can lend you credibility in your company and ultimately as a leader. Somewhat similarly, there is a point-of-entry factor to consider when you start work after an MBA. Because many switch careers after business school, you’re likelier to be viewed as a capable young worker with the tools to succeed, as opposed to an employee who’s merely been looking to climb the ladder. All of this can help to position you for leadership.

These benefits, in addition to the actual skills you learn in business school, can make for a very genuine preparation for leadership in a work environment. It’s perfectly true that MBA education now involves tricky decisions regarding return on investment, but there may still not be a better way to enter a workplace ready to excel, rather than simply succeed.

Shannon Leonard is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles, Calif. She typically covers anything in the realm of business, finance, careers, and similar topics. You can follow her on Twitter at @STLeonard28.

From a press release by The Boston Club “The 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts continued to add women to their boardrooms and executive suites.  A growing number of companies have more than two women directors on their boards or in their top-tier executive positions, which brings opportunity for real change.”

Learn about the census that shows that women are gaining ground as business leaders in Massachusetts by reading an article by Aaron Nicodemus in Telegram.com.

I  couldn’t agree more with Susan Bloch who is the author of “Why We Need More Women In The Boardroom” on HuffPost.

I have already pointed out that research tells us that companies that have more women in the boardroom have more business success.

Bloch and I believe that the answer to our economic turmoil is for more women to sit in the boardroom and take leadership positions both in politics and corporations.

To read more about the Catalyst study “Why Diversity Matters” read the article at HuffPost.

From the earliest age, we look for role models: people we can respect and aspire to be like some day. This search doesn’t stop when we reach a certain age. In fact, it could be argued that it becomes even more critical to find examples of the kind of success we hope to achieve the older we get.

Equally important is the awareness that we have the power and ability to be role models for others. In the business world, as we look up to role models for guidance, we should also look at those coming up the ladder behind us and extend a hand.

Positive vs. Negative Role Models

When thinking of the role models they have had in their life, many people automatically think of the positive ones. The truth, however, is that both positive and negative role models shape our lives and our character.

Positive role models show us how to do things. By following their examples, we can attain success and satisfaction faster.

Negative role models show us how not to do things. Although interaction with these types of role models can be challenging and painful, the lessons learned are still valuable and can help us attain our goals.

Female Role Models in Business and Beyond

The concept of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” was born of many realities. Women are hardwired to be able to use the left and right hemispheres of their brain at the same time, allowing them to take both a logical and an emotional approach to problem-solving. They also seek a nurturing and collaborative environment. As a result, women appear better able to strive for goals that are beneficial to the individual as well as to the whole community – and that’s a characteristic worth emulating by men and women.

Such factors suggest a strong need for more female role models not only in the business world, but also in the world at-large.

Examples of Female Role Models

Female role models are all around us, setting positive examples in their daily lives or bequeathing us legacies of hope and change. Some are world-famous; others lesser-known.

Audrey Hepburn was one of the most beautiful and famous women to ever light up the big screen. But she was a wonderful role model for many reasons, having overcome a difficult childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. After reaching great heights of fame and fortune as an actress, she decided to focus her energy on humanitarian efforts and devoted much of her life to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Many female role models show others they can achieve anything to which they set their mind. For example, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove was the youngest person ever selected as the U.S. Poet Laureate, and also the first woman and African-American to receive that honor.

Others become role models on the basis of physical courage and determination. In 2012, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out about the need for girls to have access to education. Despite the brutal attack and the many months of recovery, Malala has vowed publicly to continue her mission and do whatever necessary to ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys.

Are You a Role Model?

So, what message are you sending to the world? How do others view your character? And are your efforts for yourself or the greater good? These are some of the questions we all have to ask ourselves at some point. As we look to others for guidance, so too others look to us. What true role models are aware of, more than anything else, is a tremendous sense of responsibility to the people around them.

Role models have confidence in what they’ve become, yet are always striving to be more. They seek to teach, while continuing to be students of life. Positive role models believe in committing to worthwhile causes and, perhaps above all else, show respect and concern for others.

When it comes to being a role model, Mahatma Gandhi may have summed it up best when he said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

BIO

Dean Vella writes about business and leadership on behalf of University Alliance, a facilitator of online certificate programs in business administration, and leadership and management.