Book Review: Strong Female Lead – Arwa Mahdawi

When I received this book as a gift my first thought was “What do I have to learn about strong female leads” as I consider myself – you guessed it – already a strong female lead. But Arwa surprised me and educated me in many ways. Her combination of story telling and factual argumentation of the different components on what makes a leader – no matter what gender – make you keep turning the page and wonder what are really the true characteristics of a contemporary leader.

These are interesting times to say the least. Climate change (remember the fires in Australia or California? Sometimes its hard to remember with all the other tragedies going on like), mass school shootings, a global pandemic, a following recession, inflation, housing prices, police shootings of unarmed African Americans, student loan debt, political polarization and last but not least, the increased distrust in politicians and the existing systems that have failed to tackle. It does make you wonder if our current conception of leadership is incorrect and perhaps is worth reevaluating. Arwa walks you through some points that make you reflect on your own views on leadership and make you question what you value in a leader.

To be honest I don’t spend too much time thinking what qualities a strong leaders should have, I spend more time complaining about political leaders without being armed with strong, logical arguments why I don’t view them as strong or competent. Arwa has provided me with some. What I really like about the book is Arwa’s iteration of gender. She – like me – doesn’t think being a female makes you a better leader. But rather some qualities women are encouraged to have by society may be useful in these current times. What is clear that our current perceptions of leadership do not suffice to address the complexity of this day and age. Give the book a read – it’s equally beautiful as intelligent, funny as compelling, bold as compassionate. Just like a leader should be.

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