‘Be Confident in your Leadership’- Fr Sequeira tells St Ann’s Alumnae

“Have Confidence in your leadership and be Nice to People” tells Fr Pradeep Sequeira Sj during Mother Josephine Memorial Lecture-2016 on ” Developing Leadership in Women” organized by St Ann’s College of Education Alumnae Association.

Mangaluru: St. Ann’s College of Education- Mangaluru, the first training college along the West Coast, founded in 1943, was the initiative taken by Mother M. Josephine, A.C., to train women graduate teachers as agents of change in our society. The college upgraded in 1992 with Post-Graduate Department of Education has an added thrust to develop persons with an outlook of research and scholarship. St. Ann’s College of Education, is affiliated to Mangalore University, covering a total area of eight acres, has an intake capacity of 100 students in B.Ed., 30 in M.Ed. and 30 in PGDCA programmes. The institution has got UGC recognition under 2F in 1981 and under 12B in 1993. The college has a central library, computer centre, sports facilities, hostels, guestrooms and Non-resident student restrooms. The college maintains different kinds of welfare measures including an informal student service cell and a placement cell.

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To mark the contribution done by Mother M Josephine AC and for being the founder of St Ann’s College of Education, a “Mother Josephine Memorial Lecture-2016″ on the topic ” Developing Leadership in Women” was organized by the College Alumnae Association on Saturday, 2 April 2016 from 10.30 am onwards at the College Conference Hall. Rev Fr Pradeep Sequeira Sj, co-ordinator of St Aloysius Institute of Management and Information Technology (AIMIT)-Beeri/Kotekar, Mangaluru was the resource person. The programme began with invoking God’s blessings through a prayer song rendered by B Ed students, followed by welcome address by Sr M Claire AC- the president of the Association, and Principal of the College.

After the talk by Rev Fr Sequeira there was a interaction between the speaker and the audience. Rose Kiran Pinto- secretary of the alumnae Association was also present on the dais. The vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Vijayalakshmi and the programme was professionally and eloquently compered by Flavia Sequeira, both Alumnae of the College. Following the formal function and talk, there was a Annual General Body meeting, followed by games, entertainment, and a sumptuous lunch.

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The following was the talk given by Rev Fr Pradeep Sequeira Sj during the ‘Mother Josephine Memorial Lecture-2016’ on the topic ” Developing Leadership in Women” :

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Significance of leadership for an organization/institution :

To a large extent the vitality and efficacy of an organization depends on the person who is at the helm of affairs since his/her personal qualities and acquired gifts are brought to bear upon the individuals who make up the organization as well as on its policies, value orientations and work ethic.

Theories of Leadership : “Leaders are born”, “Leaders are made”, “ Leaders happen”

One has only to browse through the curricula of some of the management schools to be able to list the number of assumptions on which leadership theories are based. One may classify these assumptions under three heads: one, that leaders are born; two, that leaders are made; and three, that leaders happen.

The first of these assumptions, viz. that leaders are born, maintains that one is born with or without leadership qualities, that some are born to lead while others are destined to be led. All that society needs to do is to identify such persons, help them to develop the leadership traits nature has equipped them with, and provide them with a suitable environment to exercise those traits. Obviously, this theory has few takers today.

The second assumption, viz. that leaders are made, affirms that leadership traits can be instilled in any normal person through training. If one is given the necessary knowledge, made to practice certain skills and cultivate certain attitudes, one can be a leader in any institution or organization. While this theory can be given some credence it cannot be avowed that any one, regardless of personal gifts and talents, can be trained to become a leader.

The third assumption, viz. that leaders happen, claims that it is the context or situation that brings out the latent leadership qualities of a person. One who functions well as a leader in one situation may fare badly or fail totally in another. One may be successful as the head of an educational institution but a misfit when it comes to managing a youth hostel. This theory, too, has a few salient features that give it credibility, but it cannot cover all instances of leadership.

It is evident today that none of the above three assumptions adequately explain all the dimensions of leadership, and that a combination of the three will be more helpful in understanding leadership as we find it in today’s different contexts and situations.

Myths about Leadership :

-Leaders are born, not made

-Leadership is hierarchical, and you need to hold a formal position (status or power) to be considered a leader

-You have to have charisma to be an effective leader

-There is one standard way of leading

-It is impossible to be a manager and a leader at the same time

-You only need to have common sense to learn how to be an effective leader

Paradigms of Leadership :

In the past 25 years, different paradigms of leadership have appeared and received varying degrees of acceptance in practice. The following are the prominent ones:

Transactional Leadership -(also known as managerial leadership) is a style of leadership in which the leader promotes compliance of his/her followers through both rewards and punishments.

Transformational leadership- is a style of leadership where the leader works with employees to identify the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change with the support of committed members of the group.

Charismatic Leadership is the ability leaders have to inspire and motivate followers perform at high levels and to be committed to the organization or its cause.

Authentic leadership emphasizes building of the leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation.

Autocratic leadership is characterized by individual control over all decisions and little input from group members. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice from followers

– Steward Leadership- (as defined by Peter Block in his book Stewardship), is the willingness to be accountable for the well being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us. Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance.

Servant leadership- is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. Collaborative leadership is the intentional and skillful management of relationships that enables others to succeed individually while accomplishing a collective outcome. Laissez-faire leadership style is where all the rights and power to make decisions is fully given to the worker. Values-based Leadership is the approach of motivating employees by connecting organizational goals to employees’ personal values.

Women in Leadership : Contemporary situation

(Representation in governance, Leadership in society, economy, education, business, sports, entertainment, etc).

In India, the world’s largest democracy, only about 12% of the members of the Parliament are women. That’s a far cry from the target of 33% representation we have hoped for, and still a farther cry from the 50% representation humankind hopes for. What is said about political leadership applies more or less also to the area of economics, business, public office. Women who aspire to become effective leaders feel the need to acquire knowledge, experience and skills in a wide variety of human endeavours. Factors relating to culture, tradition, religion, and geographical region, etc. affect the aspiration, ambition for leadership and condition the availability of opportunities for training and practical involvement.

Impediments to Women’s Leadership: Gender Inequality in Patriarchal Societies:

In patriarchal societies, patriarchy is at the root of gender discrimination, especially the subordination of women. In spite of the progress India has made in many areas including higher rate in literacy and education, our society continues to be under the grip of patriarchy to a great extent. The culture of patriarchy consists of all those ideas, norms, traditions, beliefs and values that uphold men and downgrade women. Women are still considered to be biologically, intellectually and spiritually inferior to men in spite of the fact that a considerable number of women today have entered the public domain. The ideas and beliefs about women’s inferiority and men’s superiority are transmitted from one generation to the next, from one cultural group to another through language, gestures and postures and audio visual images and symbols. Further, in a patriarchal social order all social structures or institutions are based on non-participation or peripheral participation of women in decisions and governance in the family and society which includes the public sphere of economy, polity, education, media, religion and civil society. (Shalini Mulackal)

Women’s Perception on Leadership :

An opinion survey conducted by KPBG reveals :

A quantitative 20-minute online survey was conducted in English among 3,014 women ages 18-64, in the United States (604 college women and 2,410 working women). To qualify for the study, women met the following criteria: (A) College women:18-24 years of age; currently enrolled either part-time or full-time in a two-year, four-year or advanced degree program; must NOT be working full-time. (B) Working women: 25-64 years of age; college educated (two-year, four-year or advanced degree; currently working in the white collar workforce full-time).

The following statements are indicative of the views of contemporary women aspiring to leadership:

“ I wish I had been encouraged to be more self-confident and given the opportunity to develop leadership skills. I was told I was smart but not encouraged to lead”. (working women, 25-64 yrs)

“If I learn about leadership and how to be a leader as a child, I think it would have taught me to be more confident in myself and express my opinions without caring about what other people think.” (college student, 18-24 yrs)

Messages picked up by Girl Students in School :

The girl child as she grows up gets the following messages: (1) Be nice to others; (2) Be a good student; (3) Be respectful to authorities/elders; (4) Be helpful; (5) Believe in yourself; (6) Never give up; (7) Be a good team player; (8) Be supportive of others; (9) Take a stand for what you believe in; (9) Get involved in something that you are passionate about; (10) Be a good leader; (11) Make a difference in society; (12) Master a skill; (13) Share your point of view; (14) Be a good athlete; (15) Other.

Women’s Expectations on Leadership :

Women already working in companies and corporations feel that training for leadership is critical for their career development when they are in their twenties and career advancement in their thirties. The companies will do well to recognize that there is actually value in investing more resources in leadership and career development for women.

Confidence is an attribute women themselves identify as the key to leadership success. Throughout their professional careers, women struggle with what they characterize as a lack of it. Lack of confidence is indicated in fear or hesitation in seeking mentors, asking for access to senior leadership, pursing a job opportunity beyond their experience, requesting a promotion, etc. It is worth reflecting on the question: Why do women, who identify with being “smart” and as leaders in school, feel less confident to lead at work?

Women list the following initiatives as contributing towards their confidence-building: (i) My own performance; (ii) Receiving praise from my colleagues, leaders, mentors; (iii) My direct manager’s perception of me; (iv) My performance review/discussion; (v) My professional peer’s / colleague’s perception of me; (vi) Receiving a raise; (vi) Being selected to work on a special project; (vii) Senior leadership’s perception of me; (viii) Receiving a promotion; (ix) My visibility in the organization; (x) Receiving awards / accolades.

Developing Entrepreneurship in Women :

Women entrepreneurs in India face challenges of cultural bias and lack of public safety, in addition to pressures of balancing work, home and family. The book “Follow Every Rainbow”: (Inspiring Stories of 25 Women Entrepreneurs whose Gentle Touch Created Strong Business) narrates stories about enterprising women who raised a family as well as a company, with love, laughter and patience. They never gave in or gave up, and carried on to build valuable companies while also giving back to society.

{Author and researcher Rashmi Bansal classifies women entrepreneurs into three types, reflected in the structure of the book: Lakshmi (entrepreneurs who enlisted family support), Durga (women who overcame hindrances and victim-hood and battled hard for success) and Saraswati (educated women entrepreneurs who struck out on their own)}.

Women’s Advice to Women Aspiring for Leadership :

-Be confident in your capabilities;

-Be confident to ask for what you deserve;

-Don’t let your gender limit your view of what you can accomplish;

-Don’t let your gender define your future opportunities;

-Own your success;

-Make gender a non-issue in the workplace;

-Take risks;

-Know you are meant to have a seat at the table.

When asked what advice they would give to future generations of women, more than two thirds of respondents indicated confidence :– being confident in their capabilities and confidence to ask for what they deserve –is the key advice they would pass.

About Speaker-Rev Fr Pradeep Sequeira Sj :

He hails from Mangaluru and was born in 1941. After completing his B.Sc. in St Aloysius College here, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1962, and was ordained a Jesuit Priest in 1975. During his 13 years of formation, he studied philosophy and theology, and also obtained a Masters Degree in Education from Bangalore University, and Diploma in Counselling from Loyola University, Chicago-USA.


As an educationist and administrator he has served as Rector of Mount St Joseph, St Joseph’s Indian High School, St Joseph’s Seminary, and St Joseph’s College. He has also worked as Coordinator of Social Work in Mundgod, Uttara Kannada. He was Director of Ashirvad Inter-Religious Harmony Movement, Bengaluru, and the Episcopal Vicar for Religious in the Archdiocese of Bangalore.

At present, he is the Administrator and Finance Officer of AIMIT (Aloysian Institute of Management and Information Technology), Beeri, Mangaluru.


1 Comment

  1. Empowerment of Leadership in both men and women in a fast growing country such as India is becoming increasingly evident in both men and women. The opportunities for a good leadership are wide open anywhere and everywhere in India where the human intelligence has proven to be the best ingredient towards progress of mankind. This is where the role of Christians in India is becoming increasingly valuable and visible because India is the only country in the whole world that has the fast growth of new generations because of our annual population that grows more than twelve million each year. Our Schools, Colleges and Universities are filled with young men and women ready to learn more and join the procession of new Leaders so as to guide the destiny of our great nation. The Human Resource of India is in fact the Human Capital of India where the leadership plays an important role not only within India but also abroad. The Prime Minister of India who concluded his historic visit to Saudi Arabia has also come to realize the potential available for Indian Human Resource, both men and women to integrate into the fast growing ambitious development of the Kingdom. This is the most exciting time of our life where India has a chance to shine and prosper.

    Rev. Fr. Pradeep Sequeira, SJ., is therefore hundred percent right in his focus on Leadership before the congregation at St. Ann’s College where the A.C nuns have contributed a great deal for the betterment of Mangalore since the end of the Second World War. The Nuns have given so much to our Community where the Leadership has been proven as a strong and dedicated contribution for the progress and success of our Secular society of Mangalore. Leaders such as Sr. Olivia, Sr. Maria Jyothi, Sr. Prema, Sr. Maria Shrythi, and many others have given so much to the young students of Mangalore and we shall remain ever grateful for them. Their personal capacity of intellectualism, added with their brilliant mind, kind heart and loving spirits have transformed our Christian society. Their leadership has been magnanimous to our Catholic society that has brought ten fold success to the rest of the country.

    Thank you, Fr. Pradeep, for your wonderful contribution at St. Ann’s. Your Leadership at Beeri AIMIT and your partnership with Fr. Denzil and Fr. Ozzy is extremely commendable. We watch from a distance with a whisper of prayer. Mangalore has been gifted with many leaders in many disciplines, and you are one of them.

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