Women, power and leadership

MLHighlight, Workshop

“I am not interested in power games; I just want to make a difference.” My coaching client, a smart and passionate woman leader, is bumping against a different glass ceiling: her ability to influence, mobilize resources and move people to action. She doesn’t want to be seen explicitly appropriating power for herself, but she is also facing some serious limitations. She knows she is leaving the field open for others to set the rules and she ends up playing a narrowly defined game.

I have have yet to come to term with how complex it can be to define oneself as a powerful woman. It’s a move still outside cultural norms; admitting to an intention of exercising power quickly brings up negative judgement. Corrupted or overbearing public figures often shape our opinion of power. Inspiring, inclusive, generative and apparently sane female role models who overtly manifest their power are still too few. We also forget that no leader has power without corresponding vulnerabilities, and pretending not to be interested in power can be in itself a form of power play.

My client can move to a different level of competence and confidence by widening her perspectives on power dynamics. They exist and they matter. Understanding and owning power, exercising it carefully and wisely, being accountable for it – this is all part of leadership. The journey is one of exploration and discovery: sourcing different forms of power, and practicing conscious and skillful ways to manifest it. Challenges become opportunities to evolve as a leader and human being.

Power offers a fascinating learning lens; for me it is a view on many old patterns that come to life when a feeling of being too visible and exposed starts mounting. An open playing field offers itself to me when willing to move beyond discomfort and daring to push against boundaries (real or imagined). Time recently spent with an extraordinary teacher in the field of conflict resolution, Diane Musho Hamilton, granted me the chance to delve deeper into power dynamics in the company of other women. I am now on a mission to ignite women’s desire to step into their full power and to bring strength, wisdom and heart to leadership. Are you ready for the journey?