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Sally Helgesen

  • What business needs now is exactly what women are able to provide, and at the very time when women are surging into the work force. But perhaps even more important than work force numbers is the fact that women — who began this sweeping entry in the mid-seventies — are just now beginning to assume positions of leadership, which give them the scope to create and reinforce the trends toward change. The confluence is fortunate, an alignment that gives women unique opportunities to assist in the continuing transformation of the workplace ...

  • ... women, when describing their roles in their organizations, usually referred to themselves as being in the middle of things. Not at the top, but in the center; not reaching down, but reaching out.

  • ... the female view that one strengthens oneself by strengthening others is finding greater acceptance, and female values of inclusion and connection are emerging as valuable leadership qualities.

  • As women's leadership qualities come to play a more dominant role in the public sphere, their particular aptitudes for long-term negotiating, analytic listening, and creating an ambiance in which people work with zest and spirit will help reconcile the split between the ideals of being efficient and being humane. This integration of female values is already producing a more collaborative kind of leadership, and changing the very ideal of what strong leadership actually is.

  • ... women's entry into the public sphere can be seen not merely as the result of contemporary economic pressures, the high rate of divorce, or the success of the feminist movement, but rather as a profound evolutionary response to a pervasive cultural crisis. Feminine principles are entering the public realm because we can no longer afford to restrict them to the private domestic sphere, nor allow a public culture obsessed with Warrior values to control human destiny if we are to survive.

  • Top-down leaders, by withholding power from those in the ranks, deprive them of the ability to use the expertise and information vested in them to respond directly and with speed to customer concerns.

    • Sally Helgesen,
    • "Leading From the Grass Roots," in Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Richard Beckhard, eds., The Leader of the Future ()
  • ... most of us persist in regarding leadership as synonymous with — indeed solely derived from — high position. Perhaps the notion of grass-roots leadership strikes us as too much of an oxymoron; confronted with apparent paradox, our imaginations fail. ... I believe that in the future, our ideas about the nature of leadership will undergo a radical transformation. As the instrumental use of knowledge continues to redefine the nature and purpose of organizations, we will begin to look at those on the front lines for leadership.

    • Sally Helgesen,
    • "Leading From the Grass Roots," in Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Richard Beckhard, eds., The Leader of the Future ()
  • The very technologies that were supposed to free up our time seem instead to be consuming it, tacking hours onto our already extended days. The very interconnectedness of life in a global networked economy that creates so many opportunities also makes all our decisions more complex, crucial, even fragile.

  • ... in the past, having a life while earning a living didn't seem like too much to ask. Today, even this basic goal has been redefined as 'having it all.'

  • ... work is elevated by our daily environment into something that is appropriately done everywhere and at every conceivable moment.

  • ... our domestic lives reflect the major trend that dominates the consumer marketplace today: an ever-increasing emphasis on variety and choice. ... we find ourselves inventing our lives as we go along, improvising in an effort to take advantage of the bewildering range of choices that we face.

Sally Helgesen, U.S. leadership consultant, writer