Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Woman Leader Behind Hamilton

By Siobhan C. Smith, Co-President

Hamilton, the musical created by Lin-Manual Miranda, is a hit in our house. Although we have not been able to score the Broadway tickets to see it on stage, we all know the songs and history from whatever we can find on the web, television specials, and books. We have become Alexander Hamilton advocates, and are thrilled he remains on the ten-dollar bill. Before the musical, I must admit, I did not know much about Hamilton beyond being the first Secretary of the Treasury and his deadly duel with Aaron Burr.

I learned the significance Hamilton had on our independence, our banking system, and our US Constitution, which are just a few of his impressive accomplishments. The musical’s journey also shed light on something brand new – the impact his wife, Eliza Hamilton, had on making all of this happen. She was in the shadows quietly loving and supporting Alexander through all of his pursuits. Without her and her tireless efforts in creating Hamilton’s legacy, not much would have been known.

Eliza is the precursor to Hamilton’s book and Broadway production. She cared enough to be the curator of Hamilton’s role in US history, despite his many critics at the time of his death. She was truly a powerhouse who not only ensured Hamilton’s memory endured, but was a leader in her own right establishing the first orphanage in NYC.

Eliza, like so many women, did it for the larger cause, her husband’s mark in history. Eliza is someone who should be regarded as a role model for leaving a legacy. However, one should think beyond creating a legacy for others and working on creating their own.

Amazingly, so many women play the role of the supporter, the #2, who does not occupy a C-Suite seat. The level of women in the C-Suite has been stagnated in recent years where only 19% of females occupy positions despite occupying 46% of seats in organizations.  What are women doing? Women are occupying the supportive roles where 24% are SVPs, 29% are VPs, 33% are Directors, and 37% are Managers. This does not align with education level where women are at parity with men for bachelors each occupying about 30% of workforce.

What if more women realized they had the gifts that make the difference? Because they do.  An HBR study shows that women outperform men on 12 out of 16 leadership qualities (Zenger & Folk, HBR March 2012). As the future of work is changing and the workplace understands the importance of collaboration versus hierarchy, the leadership traits women demonstrate are in complete alignment in these progressive work cultures.

Many women have the traits but do not express the confidence, according to authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman from The Confidence Code.   Although there is a genetic component to confidence, it is a trait that can be developed through learning, practicing, and/or by having a coach or mentor.

Much of the research on women and leadership focuses on what the women need to do to improve. However, the onus is not really only on the women. The executive suite needs to recognize and lead the change. Mindset, work cultures, and processes need to support the transformation too.

Women possess the education, the leadership traits, and can continue to learn to develop themselves. The statistics on women in leadership have plateaued for far too long. The change needs to extend beyond the women – perhaps it can be the men, the workplace, the communities, and/or the mindset of everyone. They all could use a little disruption. Call Catapult if you want to learn more about our model below:

flowImagine if more PEOPLE were like Eliza Hamilton worked to change history. Imagine, Harriet Tubman would be on the $20 bill…

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