I feel compelled to open up a conversation about how we feel about being female leaders in what, let’s get real here, is still very much a man’s world.
Female leaders who know they are destined for bigger things, work with me because they want me to help them bring their big vision to life.
Through the process, I empower them to step into their full feminine leadership power. Which begs the question…..”what the f**k does that actually mean?
Well, part of it means challenging their perception on what ‘being a powerful leader’ means.
From a very young age we are conditioned to believe that a leader is someone who is strong, unshakable, authoritative. They are the boss. They’re firm but fair. They move forward with pace. They get the job done. They are a role model. They show no sign of weakness.
These are strong traits. They are respected in the business world. We see these role models in books, on TV shows, in the movies.
Do you know the amount of women I speak to who feel they have to act like a man to be taken seriously in business? Hundreds… Hundreds of women who are ‘playing a part’ and not being their authentic, powerful selves.
As one of my clients once told me “To compete with men in leadership roles, you have to behave like a man. It’s the only way you’re going to make the grade.”
I remember the first time I ever took an ‘Insights’ test, a psychometric tool based on the psychology of Carl Jung, which is totally mis-used in many organisations I’ve consulted with. With good intentions, but still adapted to fit in nicely with the current culture instead of challenging it.
So this was my first time in a senior role. Without going into too much detail, the Insights system characterises personality traits, communication and leadership styles, and plops them into 4 little neat colours of green, yellow red and blue.
The results from my test identified me as a yellow. I was told, that yellows were creative but didn’t have any substance. They came up with brilliant ideas and then get distracted by a conversation at the water cooler and didn’t see the idea through.
I was also informed that blue was too detailed. Green too NICE.
Red, however, was the club to be in. Red was no nonsense, fast paced. Red grabbed you by the balls and said “Give me the top level overview, I’ll make a decision and then piss off. I haven’t got time for small talk’.
I was told, “Look at the board directors they’re all red. You need to be more red if you want to be one of them.”
So that was my objective, my personal goal…to be more red. I started to get serious. I got my head down, no small talk. I performance managed people out. I raised my profile. I didn’t make mistakes. I worked with pace.
And then I did another test. I was a red…oh my god! I had MADE it. I would now be respected as a LEADER.
But I had also become someone I wasn’t. I wasn’t my authentic self. And further along the line I really started to dislike myself and the way I was behaving in the workplace.
But corporate kinda liked me.
My genuine qualities, the ones I use now to successfully build my business, lead my team, develop women and build communities, were discouraged at a senior leader level.
My compassion, thoughtfulness, honesty, sense of humour, did not make me a strong leader.
But they make me a strong leader now. I’m in my full feminine leadership power.
We have businesses to run. So of course being a strong leader means working with pace, meeting deadlines, making tough decisions and having difficult conversations.
However, being a strong leader also means being vulnerable, not always being right, leaving your ego at the door and sharing mistakes.
In the video below I start the conversation and share some strategy around how we can support each other as female leaders. How we can celebrate our feminine qualities and introduce them into the work place as strengths, not weaknesses.
And that applies to women AND men by the way.
But this movement requires more than a few first steps.
Imagine what could be achieved if we worked as one. If we stripped back all the insecurities, the ego talk and the limiting beliefs.
If we opened up and had REAL conversations in our businesses. Not pretend ones because people are worried about saying something that could be perceived as weak or incompetent or not a team player.
Many organisations think they’ve cracked it but they haven’t. I’ve witnessed it first hand. It’s often another mask. Corporate bullshit, all show and inspirational internal marketing but nothing really changes.
This movement requires a culture change from the TOP. One female leader at at time. Creating, collaborating and changing.
It takes courage to show your true self and not be an edited version of yourself that you only reserve for corporate.
It also takes courage to disrupt the system.
If you want to continue the conversation then reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.