BUILDING BALANCED LEADERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Women’s Day 2018 took place 100 years after years after some of the accomplishments of the courageous pioneer-women we call suffragettes: in 1918, following years of bitter struggle, (some) of the UK’s women finally gained the right to vote. We have come a long way since those times. Our lives today – in the privileged Western societies we live in – are very different from those of our great-grandmothers and fathers. I am grateful to all those who came before us – the women who made huge sacrifices to demand basic human rights and the men who supported them. These are the brave people who opened the way for us to enjoy the rights and privileges we have today. However, as we all know, gender equality and coming to terms with a real balance remains an unfinished business – and progress towards gender equality in the 21st century is happening at a snail’s pace.

This lethargic pace is inconsistent with the fast pace of today’s world

Today’s world is moving at a breakneck speed and there is no more space for business as usual. The 21st century’s 4th industrial revolution is a V.U.C.A. world – volatile, unpredictable, complex, ambiguous. Change is the new normal and it affects every single human being on our planet. I cannot but be amazed with our contemporary reality – how we experience three centuries co-existing during our small life-spans. We have 19th and 20th century institutions, rules, gender roles and mentalities. At the same time, we have 21st century technological development moving faster than we can grasp: Artificial Intelligence, automation, genetics…I am Portuguese, I was raised with the stories and tales of the navigators who sailed new waters 500 years ago. Those (hand drawn) world maps depicted small areas of known “worlds” and massive amounts of mysterious territories, with sea serpents, dragons and multiple creatures symbolizing the threats and the challenges, but also the possible treasures and rewards for the brave ones who would overcome the monsters. Today’s world reminds me of those charts, because we too are navigating “uncharted territory”. This is a time where old certainties and deep-rooted balances are dissolving while the new balances are not yet a reality.

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