Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu – aka Mother Teresa
Men are not the only people who have stepped forward to lead during pivotal historic times.
Famous women have led with leadership styles that are as diverse as those found among men.
In 1910, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the child who would become famous as Mother Teresa, was born. She observed compassion from an early age by her mother who taught her, “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.” Young Agnes would take this advice to heart and build a life upon helping others and encouraging more people to do the same. In 1946, Mother Teresa felt called by God to work with the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She dedicated the remainder of her life to providing schooling, food, and medical care to some of the most impoverished people on Earth. She never ceased calling upon others to take note of others’ pain and do what they could to relieve it. Mother Teresa led through selfless charisma.
Rosa Parks had given little thought to leadership style when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955. She was indignant that she was considered less of a human than the person she was expected to step aside for. Rather than attempt to rally others to her cause, she simply refused to move. With this simple act, Rosa Parks began her journey as a civil rights leader.
Inspired by her example, volunteers organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott while she was imprisoned. Rosa and her husband both lost their jobs due to the legal battles being fought over segregation, but they did not give up. She was later awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Martin Luther King Jr Award. Rosa Parks led by being a quiet, but strong example.
Catherine II became Empress of Russia when her husband, Peter III, was deposed in 1762. Proving that she could lead better than the man she replaced, Catherine was an advocate for the arts and education and managed with finesse the problems that Peter had failed so miserably with. With intelligence and foresight that she refused to hide under feminine timidity, she became known as Catherine the Great. She was one of few rulers of her age to concern herself with the happiness and health of her people. Catherine II led with decisive action.
The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, became the first Prime Minister of Britain just a few years after prophesying that she would never see a female PM rule her country. A staunch conservative, Margaret led the charge for reduced government spending and increased personal responsibility. While she was able to lead successful reforms, her unyielding principles led to her resignation from politics in 1990. Margaret Thatcher led through confident intelligence.