Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, MA
Lack of formal training and development opportunities for women has hindered them from aspiring to top-level management positions in dental professions. As in the corporate world, rapid changes in the management systems of universities offer an ideal future for women seeking top-level management positions in education. Traditional, male-dominated management systems are being replaced with empowered work-team systems to accomplish organizational goals. This article offers a preview of a model for leadership development that affirms women`s individual and naturally occurring leadership styles, offering them knowledge and skills to rise to the top of the management structure with leadership savvy.
Whether aspiring to becoming a leader in education, professional associations, the dental office, or in the community, dental hygienists have many opportunities to emerge into leadership positions to experience the challenges and satisfaction that leadership provides.
The model for the development of leaders focuses on the understanding of the new leadership expressed in 12 dimensions. Developed by Kragness (1994), an industrial and organizational psychologist, the model is based on the premise that leadership is a dynamic and fluid entity and is earned by leaders. She identifies 12 dimensions of leadership based upon the situation and the followers` perceived need of leader qualities.
The model differs from others in that it applies a complexity of characteristics to leadership, based on the situation and perceived needs. By using a self-scoring instrument, individuals can develop a profile of their perceived leadership needs, how they view themselves as a leader, or desirable characteristics of the leader they chose to follow. The profile offers a systematic means to implement the self-reported data.
The model asserts that leadership is part of a relationship and that it is fluid or changing with events or situations. Gender-based research indicates that relational models are a natural for women. Managers who aspire to be effective leaders need to pay special attention to how they accomplish their managerial task, because the "how" determines whether subordinates also become willing followers. Management is based on position authority, but leadership relies on voluntary followers. Leadership is earned by an individual who contributes something that others perceive as enhancing their well-being.
The model emphasizes that one does not need to hold the official title of manager to be an effective leader within an organization and that a manager may not be an effective leader. The opportunity to assume a leadership role in the midst of organizational change is limitless, as individuals seek to follow someone they perceive as a leader based upon their internal values. Women can benefit from application of this model to increase their leadership potential.
Once an understanding is established of the leadership needs of the situation and the needs of the group, women have an opportunity to build upon their natural strengths. Women can learn to change their leadership paradigm, realizing the components of effective leadership, whether in academia, research, or dentistry.
Dental hygiene educators also have an obligation to introduce models for women within our curriculum. We believe this model provides a structure for the development of leadership training that empowers and affirms women.
A four-day Leadership Workshop for Women in the Dental Professions, sponsored by Ferris State University, will be hosted May 20-23 on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The program is planned in response to the paper presented by the authors at the 1998 AADS Women?s Leadership Conference.
At the May workshop, 50 participants will experience a highly interactive journey into their natural leadership styles. Exercises will increase skills in problem-solving, listening, communication, goal-setting, and personal empowerment. For information on the workshop, contact Ferris State University Extended Learning at 616.592.3808 or [email protected].
Statements about the Kragness model were adapted from Dimensions of Leadership Profile? Facilitator?s Manual, published by the Carlson Learning Company. Gurenlian and Meeuwenberg presented OA Model for the Development of Effective Women LeadersO at the Women?s Leadership Conference ? Global Alliances for Advancing Education, Research, and Women?s Health. The conference, sponsored by the American Association of Dental Schools, was hosted in Cannes/Mandelieu, France. For additional information on curriculum development, CE courses, or personal empowerment materials, please phone (888) 951-4489, fax to (609) 216-0515, or e-mail to [email protected].
Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, MA, is the founder of Professional Development Association, Inc. and professor of dental hygiene at Ferris State University. She is a practicing hygienist in a Summer Migrant Health Clinic. As a member of the National Speakers` Association, she has presented numerous programs internationally and authored professional journals and consumer publications. JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, PhD, is the CEO of Gurenlian and Associates, which specializes in continuing education and consultative services. She is a former ADHA President and an internationally recognized speaker, researcher, and author of numerous professional articles. She is a former ADHA Warner Lambert Excellence in Dental Hygiene recipient.