Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement, which fought for women’s right to vote. She was born in 1858 and died in 1928. Pankhurst was a leading figure in the fight for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and helped to lead the campaign for the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which granted the right to vote to women over the age of 30 who owned property. She is considered a pioneer of feminist activism and was an inspiration to many others who followed in her footsteps. So, what can we learn from her leadership?
Inspire and motivate
Emmeline Pankhurst was an inspiring leader who was able to motivate others to join the cause of women’s suffrage by sharing her vision and her passion. She was a powerful speaker who was able to move others with her words and her convictions. In a speech to the WSPU in 1908, she declared:
“We are here to demand our rights as citizens of this country. We are not asking for charity or pity, we are demanding our rights as human beings. We will not be silenced or ignored any longer. We will fight for our rights until we are granted the same political freedoms as men.”
One of the reasons few corporate leaders get buy in from their teams is because they may talk the talk, but when it comes time to walk the walk they refuse to do so. Emmeline Pankhurst inspired many, not just because she was able to give great speeches, but because she led from the front. She was arrested several times and served numerous prison sentences in her efforts to raise awareness to the issue of equality. It is unlikely you will be arrested for championing a cause in the corporate world, but your team are watching to see how badly you fight for that project that would help the company when it doesn’t have support from the top.
The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903, was the leading organization fighting for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. The WSPU organized a wide variety of events to raise awareness of the issue of women’s suffrage and to build support for the cause. These included:
- Public meetings and speeches: The WSPU held regular public meetings and speeches to educate people about the issue of women’s suffrage and to build support for the movement. These meetings were often attended by large crowds and featured speeches by leading suffragettes, including Emmeline Pankhurst.
- Marches and demonstrations: The WSPU organized numerous marches and demonstrations to raise awareness of the issue of women’s suffrage and to pressure the government to take action. These events often attracted large crowds and received widespread media coverage.
- Civil disobedience: The WSPU engaged in acts of civil disobedience, such as chaining themselves to railings and disrupting political meetings, to draw attention to their cause and to pressure the government to grant women the right to vote.
- Fundraising events: The WSPU also organized fundraising events to raise money to support the suffrage movement. These events included auctions, concerts, and other activities to raise money to support the cause.
Emmeline Pankhurst understood that the method was not as important as the outcome, something that many in the corporate world are guilty of forgetting. The process is meant to merely facilitate an outcome, but it is the outcome which matters. She was able to consistently use different methods to get to the same outcome depending on the circumstances and the stakeholders involved.
*If you are looking to improve as a leader then you should check out my new book – The Manager Handbook: A Practical Guide to Managing Your Team – which has been ranked as a Best Selling Business Management Book on Amazon Singapore. You can pick up a copy by clicking here. Alternatively, you can search for the book on Amazon UK, US, Singapore, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada or Australia among other locations to order a copy. If you are in another location, Amazon will be able to ship globally to you. It is also available as an e-book via Amazon Kindle.