Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Being a leader is a choice and requires a certain set of qualities and skills. Look up "leadership" on the google box and you could read for days about what it is and isn't, what type you are and 50 zillion ways you can be a better one. In my coaching practice, I specialize in women's leadership and you would be surprised how many clients hire me because they question their effectiveness or are unsure how to get where they want to be. The world is evolving and the percentage of women in leadership roles is on the rise largely influenced by a variety of prominent feminine figures who have made the call to all women to take a seat at the table. We have momentum and it is very exciting to be on the front lines of history. While the statistics are encouraging the fact remains that we are faced with a range of challenges that many of our male counterparts don’t have an understanding of. It goes beyond equal pay or fitting into the "boys" club, in fact, it has everything to do what makes us natural leaders: Our own femininity.
Embracing the Power
It's the elephant in the room - women's power. If you think it intimidates the male dominated leadership structure you'd be right, but would it surprise you to know that it intimidates women even more? In the workplace there is a collective fear that if we allow ourselves to be uniquely female in the inherent strengths that we all possess that somehow it's not enough. Do you know why that occurs? Because the masculine form of power represents predictability, competition, linear logic, and controlled systems and that has been exactly what we needed over the past millennia for scientific achievements and marvels of industry. From an evolutionary standpoint these are the skills you needed to hunt and gather for survival of the species. I would argue that survival is a 50/50 equation directly as a result of the feminine form of power which is as equally dynamic in relationships, perseverance, creative logic and managed systems, not to mention our ability to support life. Somewhere along the way our culture shifted to the belief that one was less than the other and we have been out of balance ever since. For hundreds of years we've been told that we don't belong at the table and some of us still believe we don't have what it takes.
The feminine shift we are experiencing in this modern day is a much needed re-balance but societal norms have changed and so our thought process needs to change as well. Traditional roles have transformed and women are embracing the idea that their skills are not less than or even equal to - they are different than. It's still a 50/50 equation but we all come with different gifts and it's time we not only respect that in others, but honor that for ourselves.
The Possibility of Connection
Claire Zammit, founder of Emerging Women offers that "feminine power is really the ability to create those things that can't be controlled: true love, intimacy, higher creativity, intuition, realization of spiritual potential, and the ability to impact others." All of these things are based in relationships and the possibility of connection.
This is not power....this is influence. A paradigm shift.
Influence is the impact you have on another person that inspires them to a higher potential. Any woman out there who is driven to succeed does so because she was encouraged by another driven woman. This is where we our gifts reign supreme. This is where we live our truth and are in perfect alignment with who we are. When expressed in the world it is our own contribution in making the world a better place.
While marching up the ladder in the business world I was constantly lining up with the goals of success: earning that raise, winning that promotion, competing for that bonus, moving into an office with a view - all markers of achievement. I was never satisfied and always striving to reach higher.... show my potential..... engage my purpose. It wasn't long before I decided I needed to build my own business model and this is where I found my own personal power. I started a construction subcontracting company from the ground up with my own money determined to take all that I had learned and create a company that would run like a well oiled machine, and it did. It was profitable, well-branded and had an amazing staff that made me shine. We were well known and respected in the local construction community and do you know why I was blessed with such a love fest?? The relationships I built. This was my brand of business culture inside and out and the impact on the bottom line was pure evidence that connection matters.
Construction may be a male-dominated industry, but I seemed to fit in just fine! I was confident in my abilities and avoided branding myself as a woman in the industry, rather, a business woman offering superior service and strong partnerships. Along the way I decided I needed to network more so I got out into the community and happened across a women's professional development association. After my first meeting I knew I had found my people and after getting involved in a leadership role, I became aware that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I received powerful influence from others in the group and was constantly encouraged to move up and lead. I guess they liked my ideas and so I stepped up. What followed was nothing less than miraculous. I discovered something about myself that I never realized before: I had influence.
In my own professional journey I witnessed a lot of women collapse under the heavy weight of expectation, self ridicule and external abuses of one form or another. I wanted to find away to let them know they were not alone and there was at least one person in their corner. Me. Business is my passion, but supporting women and helping them reach their goals is my purpose. My own "her"story proves that you no matter what cards you are dealt in life or what choices you make, tomorrow is a new day, so you learn the lesson and keep pushing forward. I could not have done what I have been able to do without an army of angels at my back to love and support me and that is exactly why I decided to sell my company and live my purpose.
Join the Revolution
Women excel at self-expression and co-creation and we instinctively engage in the process of development. It was what we were made to do! We also desire deep connection and conscious discovery which serves as a source of strength and resilience. Armed with this tenacity we can mirror ourselves in others and be the light they need. We have the right to be heard and we bear the responsibility to present our truest self out in the world by standing up and building a culture of empowerment between women. This does not mean that you give power - it means you use your unique talents to influence other women to find their own power in themselves and support them in connecting and growing their potential. Look for ways to invite them to step forth into that level of commitment for their future so they will be open to possibilities and opportunities that are waiting for them.