Hillary Clinton and Leadership Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2632 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] By making the remark, she further alienated herself from many women.

Already, many people saw her as a person outside the First Lady mold. Many reacted to her as people did in Arkansas, though now, the reaction was on a national scale.

Though Clinton's refusal to confirm to a traditional, socially defined role as First Lady is, in fact, a sign of intelligence, integrity and determination, it was also in strong conflict with what many in the public then expected. The fact that she tried to make concessions -- including changing her name from Rodham to Clinton -- shows willingness to compromise. Unfortunately, she once again slipped in later interviews, remarking that she should have "stayed home and baked cookies" further served to remind many in the public that she was "not one of them."

White House Years

Early in her husband's term, Clinton would show just how far removed she was from the prevailing cultural symbols related to a First Lady. Unlike her predecessors, Clinton was granted her own policy staff. As a Yale-educated lawyer, she had the intelligence, the confidence and now, the contacts, to be able to lobby Congress on many of the issues that she held important.

One of these early issues was a bill for universal health care, a program that was soundly defeated. Her policy work and political activism raised charges that she was "interfering" with the chain of presidential power, making her the most-criticized First Lady in history.

That one massive failure, however, was followed by several other, lesser-known successes. Among the campaigns that she actively spearheaded or supported include mandating partial health coverage for uninsured children, reforming current adoption laws and increased research funding for diseases like epilepsy, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

It is interesting to note that these campaigns fall squarely into the traditional realm of a First Lady's duties. After all, most first ladies have worked on campaigns that were calculated not to cause controversy, like education and literacy.

However, Clinton also played a balancing act by being active in several other, more high-profile campaigns. A strong supporter of women's rights, Clinton learned from her previous misconstrued comments and found ways to be an activist. For example, she lobbied the International Monetary Fund to provide rural villages in developing countries with loans. These funds were then channeled to provide education for the mostly illiterate women.

More important, Clinton also attended the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference in Beijing. She even delivered a speech on women's rights, to thunderous response.

During this time, Clinton is bouncing back from her earlier failures and is learning to cultivate a stronger leadership presence. While her verbal faux pas served to alienate many of her female constituents, her work on women's rights served to cement her reputation with many others. Her growing list of achievements marked the emergence of a new, charismatic Hillary, one who was suddenly on magazine covers as diverse as Ladies Home Journal to Vogue.

It is at this stage that Clinton embarks on a new phase towards transformational leadership, where she is able to inspire others to want rather than fear change. Instead of appearing "feminist" by saying she is not merely standing by her man, Clinton instead focused on working women and families. Her intuitive ability to identify issues that would matter to working women, combined with her legal training and her political connections, thus began to bear fruit.

Ethics and Gender

This section discusses the matter of ethical leadership and gender together because, in Clinton's case, those matters have always been related.

Northouse (1997) writes that ethical leadership is based on values. An ethical leader is focused on a moral goal. Furthermore, ethical leaders listen to and respect their followers. Clinton's attempts to ethical leadership, however, have always been complicated by her gender. More accurately, they are complicated by her refusal to conform to the social constructions regarding her gender.

Many of her tasks, for example, are complicated by what Dayle Smith (in Northouse 1997) observed as gender difference in communication and leadership style. For example, while a strong leadership style would usually be viewed as "decisive" and therefore in a favorable light for men, such "aggression" is generally frowned upon in women. Clinton herself discovered this early in her political roles.

Another key difference is that while men tend to lead from top-down, many women leaders approach leadership from the center. From there, they build connections and create loyalties. Because she could not do the former, Hillary Clinton has proven very astute in building connections from the middle.

Ironically, Bill Clinton's latest sex scandal may have helped Hillary's efforts to form connections with the women who remained suspicious of her motives. Learning from her previous mistakes with the Tammy Wynette response, Hillary first stood by her husband, announcing she believed his innocence. When she was proven wrong however, she chose to keep silent. However, she appeared several times on television, holding her husband's hand. This image, more than any words, helped foster a sympathetic public air, even empathy from many women who she previously alienated.

Conclusion

Now a Junior Senator, Clinton shows how far her leadership skills have developed. First, her earlier key leadership traits of intelligence and determination were now honed by political experience. Because of these factors, she made the right decision to run for office in New York City, rather than her more conservative hometown of Chicago.

The choice of cities is also indicative of Clinton's current leadership style. As a transformational leader, she located herself squarely in an area that welcomes, rather than eschews, change. She represents an area filled with working people and, more importantly, working women. Unlike her earlier difficulties in Arkansas, it is unlikely that she will be viewed as an outsider. In fact, her credentials make her a charismatic figure among many New Yorkers, who view her as someone to emulate.

In conclusion, the young Clinton already embodied many of the key traits of leadership, traits that she later honed through her education. Many of the problems she encountered were related to the conflicting cultural symbols she embodied. These conflicts were brought on by her refusal to conform to the socially defined roles expected from wives, the First Lady and women in general.

However, Clinton today is a charismatic figure who is trying to be a transformational leader. She already embodies a personal power, granted to her by the citizens of New York, as well as many other people around the country. Whether this personal power and charisma will allow her to go farther, however, remains to be seen.

Works Cited

Bolman, Lee G. And Deal, Terrence E. 1997. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2nd ed.

Clinton, Hillary Rodham. 2003. Living History.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Hillary Clinton and Leadership.  (2003, September 29).  Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hillary-clinton-leadership/4606046

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