Advancing Leadership

Combining the three approaches discussed: Abdel-Magied needs to consider individuals and their level of motivation (Situational) (Blanchard, Zigarmi & Zigarmi 2000), while working with her followers (Authentic) (Eagly 2005) towards higher order goals (Transformational) (Bennis & Nanus 1985).

Moral Perspectives, Perseverance and the Backlash

Nelson Mandela said of his upcoming trial:

I was the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness, and democracy in a society that dishonoured those virtues. I realised then and there that I could carry on the fight even within the fortress of the enemy. (Mandela 1994, p. 299)

This is a lesson on defiance under persecution and a commitment to Mandela’s ideals. Going silent and allowing the gender backlash to influence her behaviour undermined Abdel-Magied’s strength as a stereotype disconfirming role-model (Rudman & Phelan 2008; Rudman & Fairchild 2004).  She must face up to critics, endure, anticipate and counter their comments and attacks while using her presence as a rallying point for gender equality and social justice allies. For this she will have to continue to develop her self-discipline.  

Balanced Processing

Abdel-Magied is extremely intelligent, engaged and committed to her cause.  This can mean that she is quick to react and swift to judgement. While she engages and looks at alternative perspectives; taking the time to further listen and calmly work through opposing views will improve her authenticity (Northouse 2016, p. 203).  It will influence how others perceive her own point-of-view, and make them more amenable to her message.

Empowering Individuals

Abdel-Magied has followers who know what must be done, but others need direction or delegation to advance the cause (Northouse 2016, p. 94).  For those people, Abdel-Magied should be providing answers to the questions: “How can I help?”, “What should I do?”

Abdel-Magied could be more directive by telling people useful ways to react to gender or racial discrimination, using her influence to incite action.  By telling people to complain, send letters or show their public support.

Social media allows for direct communication with her followers and would work as a coaching tool for those still developing. For those more capable of accepting delegation, she should urge them to speak out against sexual harassment and discrimination, talk about income inequality at work and find female mentors. 


Abdel-Magied has a great intellect with many of the traits, behaviours and habits of a fine leader with an exciting life ahead.  She is authentic and committed to principles that require transformative change. Yassmin is a worthy champion for gender equality and there is no cause she could be better suited to delivering.

Archibald Prize submission – (Sally Ryan 2017)