Leadership is Gender Neutral

November 25, 2011Just as I was about to post about how delighted am about Chanda Kochhar’s selection as India’s Business Leader of the Year, I learned that, for the first time, the Report on Business Canadian CEO of the Year is also a woman. Christine Day, CEO of lululemon athletica has said she loves her job because it allows her to “bring all of [herself] to work”.

The phenomenal success of lululemon speaks to Christine’s innovation, diligence, and understanding of her customers. Her career demonstrates the importance of women’s taking control of their futures—and taking credit for their achievements.

Two exceptional women. Two very different role models.

And proof that women can achieve, and be recognized, by following their own values and building on their own strengths.

Last summer on my first visit to India, I was impressed and excited by the recognition among corporate leaders and the business media that Indian women would be a major part of their nation’s rapidly expanding economy.

During my second visit, I had the opportunity to meet with one of the most visible examples of women’s growing economic role in India, Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank. Taking over the helm of the bank in 2009, when its financial strength was in question, she turned back the rumours and re-established both its reputation and its bottom line.

No surprise, then, that Chanda Kochhar was selected as the Economic Times (India) Business Leader of the Year. Not the Business Woman of the Year. But the business leader who excelled, who provided truly extraordinary leadership to her own organization, and who stood as an example to others.

Having met Ms. Kochhar, I wasn’t surprised that she stood out in a strong field of contenders for the award. She’s capable, confident, and brings focus and hard work to her role as the first woman CEO of a major bank in India.

Most of all she has a terrific attitude: The attitude that women can achieve great things. The attitude that everychallenge is an opportunity. The attitude that successful leaders evolve and grow, learning from every new experience. And the attitude that this generation of leaders has an obligation to mentor and support the next generation.

I’m delighted that Chanda’s exceptional leadership qualities and achievements have been recognized. And I’m excited that such a strong leader will inspire and be a role model for the next generation of business people.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.