Women, Leadership, and Systems Theory

Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2011) indicate that systems theory, “describes the interconnected elements of a system in which a change in one element affects all of the other elements” (p. 11). Examining the components of leadership through systems theory demonstrates that each component from leader to subordinate affects each other in a mutual way. Mihelic, Lipicnik, and Tekavcic (2010) describe the construct of ethical leadership as a series of behaviors that serves as role modeling. Followers mimic the accepted behavior of leaders, and leaders communicate behavior to followers through decision-making, understanding consequences, and disciplinary action toward unethical behavior (Mihelic, Lipicnik, and Tekavcic, 2010). Examining power distance in ethical leadership is necessary for understanding leader and follower relationships. Cultural theorist Geert Hofstede, describes power distance, “as the degree to which a person is able to influence other people’s ideas and behavior” (Hofstede Centre, n.d., para. 2).  Power distance is a cultural trait so people learn behaviors from the people who are perceived as authority figures. Leaders are people in positions of power and develop credibility through actions and followers emulate leadership actions.

The compatibility of ethics and credibility in leadership is found in women who are changing the industries to which they belong.  People in communications are familiar with Sherry Turkle because her work at MIT has changed how people interact with technology.  As the director of MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, Turkle,“is an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics”  (MIT, n.d., para. 1).  The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards has, “expanded its advocacy for access to health care and ensured that Planned Parenthood played a pivotal role in shaping health care coverage and services for women” (Planned Parenthood, 2014, para. 2).  Most people are familiar with Geena Davis as an actress, but fewer people know that she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.  This organization works, “within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under” (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, 2016, para. 1).  The common theme each of these women possess is passion for leading with credibility.  Not only does each woman demonstrates expertise in her field, which supports credibility, but these women are passionate about the ethical approaches to these controversial topics.


Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. (2016).  About Us.  Retrieved from http://seejane.org/about-us/

Hofstede Centre.  (n.d.).  United States.  Retrieved from http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html

MIT.  (2014).  Sherry Turkle.  Retrieved from http://www.mit.edu/~sturkle/

Mihelic, K. K., Msc, Lipicnik, B., Phd, & Tekavcic, M., Phd. (2010). Ethical leadership. International Journal of Management and Information Systems, 14(5), 31-41. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/819649567?accountid=3783

Planned Parenthood.  (n.d.).  Cecile Richards.  Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/our-leadership/cecile-richards





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