Reflections on Power
I’ve long been fascinated with power. Who has it, why they want it, what they do with it. I even started a PhD on the topic. What I really wanted to investigate was women and power. How was the power that women hold when they are most aligned different from that of men in the same domains.
I had seen nearly every woman I came into contact with in my corporate career deeply entrenched in the dominant power structures and behaviours yielded by the successful male leaders in the workplace: ambitious, political, driven – what we know as masculine power or power-over.
The women were in some cases more masculine than the men (for a long time I was one of them). I thought that this was just the way it was in the big world of business.
But as I left the corporate world to embark on my entrepreneurial journey a decade ago, including building leadership programs, writing books, coaching and developing my own identity in the world independent of the corporate structures I had grown up in, I started to ask different questions about what success models and power structures could really look like.
Could women hold power differently from men? Should they? Was there a difference in gender deeper than what we see on the surface that influences our authentic power models?
Was this misalignment with power one of the reasons why so many women leave workplaces when they hit upper management, because they no longer feel like themselves and no longer want to play the game, even if they can’t name that as the reason?
The answers seem so obvious to me now. After so many years seeking those answers, researching them, watching the stories unfold with my clients and students, founding Women Rising, a company solely focused on helping women step into authentic leadership, it all seems so clear.
And the answer is, of course.
Of course women, when in alignment, hold their power differently to men. Of course women, when most authentic, sit deeper into their feminine traits than solely in their masculine ones that are so dominant at work and in business.
Of course women want to show up as themselves, in the truest sense, and have that be accepted and not changed or fixed.
There is another side to power. A softer, more intuitive, collaborative and more holistic side. Call it feminine power, authentic power, personal power or aligned power – the words don’t matter as much as the intent.
To be true, caring more about the whole than the self, using power for the greater good not just as power over others. Caring, period. Feminine power can still be fierce, and indeed it is. But it’s fierce with purpose, just not because power makes it so.
There is a shift happening in the world right now. We can all see it and feel it.
Let’s reflect on the power we see, the power we hold and how we can step further into the right kind of power. Power that will lift women up and help them to rise. Power that will unify men and women and all genders, not create further divisiveness.
Power that will finally help all of us as women to realise that our feminine traits – our nurturing, empathetic, collaborative, caring, kind, intuitive, visionary traits – are what make us powerful, and stop trying to diminish them.
There is a quote we see on social media, on t-shirts, banners and #hashtags that says The Future Is Female.
As a mother of an adult son, a feminist and a woman on a mission to bring men along on this journey, I prefer to say The Future is Feminine. And feminine isn't a gender, it's an energy. An energy that we can all embody. And one that is critical for all of us, especially leaders, to embrace.
As we head into a week where we celebrate International Women's Day, let’s all embrace a more balanced view of power. And as we step into our feminine power, let’s bring good men and allies along with us and help them embrace their own feminine traits and shift the power structures they operate in to look more like us, not the other way around as it has long been.
Feminine power. It’s a power we could all use more of. It’s a power that is and will continue to create revolutions and change the world for the better.
And the truth is, it’s the only power that can.