Women’s relationship to power is fascinating. I have instigated several discussions about this subject and find the subject rich and deep for women and men alike.
I see powerful women in the following very distinct categories viewing power, leadership and success very differently:
- corporate mountain climbers – working their way to the top
- entrepreneurial freedom fighters – bound and determined to stay free
- rock stars – self actualizing out loud and helping others along the way
- military pioneers – succeeding in the ultimate man’s world
I find these distinctions hopeful – for women and men.
Crossing the divides
Yes, no one fits neatly in one category – and it’s hard for everyone to find the time to break out of our own niches – but I believe that when we share our understanding of power across these divides, then we will tap into the collective power of WOMAN in our society.
There is evidence to back up this idea. Studies are finding that when women become adept at different styles of leadership, they advance more quickly than men. While these studies have been done in the corporate sector, my own experience – straddling corporate, entrepreneurial and “rock star” worlds – has taught me that as we become skilled in one environment we can more easily succeed in others. Here are some examples from my personal experience and observation:
- Being an entrepreneur means defining success for yourself and going to get it. People I know that take this attitude in corporate settings – no matter what their level and role – are more content than those who buy into “the man’s” definition.
- Corporate survival and leadership often means understanding group power and how to leverage a group’s power and skill without necessarily telling anyone what to do. Military personnel who deploy these techniques are far less frustrated and more effective (once off the battlefield.)
- Rock stars have tapped into personal reservoirs of inspiration, joy and power that are essentially human. If all of us took our rock star self to work every day, every workplace would be rockin’ and success would abound.
Let’s explore our power
Our world desperately needs a new definition of success and power. As Anne Perschel eloquently noted last week on her blog, the “more is always better” approach – is reaching its limits in our society. The quarterly profit greed machine is corrupting our economy and threatens to drown us all in a wealth of poverty as we acquire more and more stuff while feeling less and less rich.
I believe women hold a special answer to this dilemma. Not only are we capable of helping our economy out of the ditch, but because – as a class – we’ve never achieved our culture’s current definition of power (epitomized by the white, male power figure), we can more easily choose to be free of it. Besides, the Dalai Lama said we would save the world, and I believe him.
Let’s start exploring our power across these divides. I’ve started a LinkedIn group to hold our discussion. Join it. Raise your voice. Invite others from across the divides in your life and let’s see where our conversation leads us. (Powerful men welcome too!)
(Not on LinkedIn, but curious? I’ll continue to cover women and power on my blog. Subscribe to blog posts for future updates).