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PR Women with Influence

Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges


Juan Meng and Marlene S. Neill

PR Women with Influence: Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges makes a unique and timely contribution by exploring how women in public relations navigate through attitudinal, structural and social barriers in advancing their leadership roles. The book is thoroughly grounded in rich empirical evidence gained through two phases of a funded research project conducted in the field. Phase I involves 51 in-depth interviews with current female leaders in public relations and Phase II captures women’s perceptions on gender-related barriers in leadership advancement by recruiting a national panel of female public relations professionals. 

Results presented in this book provide a compelling, current picture of women and leadership in public relations. By emphasizing our discussion on key issues and barriers as related to women in PR and their leadership advancement, the authors call for real actions and change to develop a constructive ecosystem within the organization to embrace leadership for women in PR. 

Given its sharp topic focus, wealth of empirical data, and the relevance of the topic to today’s public relations profession, this book is suitable for different audiences both nationally and globally. Such audiences include but are not limited to public relations scholars, educators and professionals, both leaders and emerging leaders, men and women, young professionals, women of color, and public relations majors. This book is appropriate for senior-level undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations and communication management to facilitate critical thinking, leadership development, and gender-related topic discussion. 

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Chapter Four Ethical Leadership and the Meaning of Building Influence to Women in PR



Ethical Leadership and the Meaning of Building Influence to Women in PR


If leadership is “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2018, p. 7), it is hard to argue against the propositions that leadership involves influence (Yukl, 2002), creates meaning for the members (Selznick, 1984), performs specific social functions (Guillén, 2010), and seeks constructive change (Northouse, 2018). In this chapter, we focus on defining the meaning of building influence to women in public relations. We aim at defining influence from a more descriptive perspective so that we can better understand what characterizes influence for women in public relations. By positioning the role of public relations professionals with particular emphasis on ethical advocacy, we assess how building influence relates to female professionals’ adoption of strategies when providing leadership and ethics counseling to the senior leadership team within the organization. We hope to uncover the role of ethical leadership in supporting female professionals to overcome situational hurdles when building and enacting influence, with an ultimate goal of achieving leadership success and effectiveness.

According to Bandura’s (1977, 1986) social learning theory, for leaders to be seen as ethical leaders by their subordinates, they must be attractive and credible role models. Similarly, Moberg (2000) listed ideal characteristics of an ethical role model as demographic similarity, relevancy, and attainability. Leaders influence the ethical conduct of followers or subordinates via modeling as most individuals ←63...

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