The end of the year is always a good time for reflection and appreciation. And here’s one of the things I’m thankful for in 2019: It’s been called the Year of the Woman.
In a year that has been so divisive and contentious, my heart was lifted when I saw the 2019 Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women.
According to Forbes: this year’s top 100 females list featured women from six categories — business (31), technology (17), finance (12), media & entertainment (14), politics & policy (22) and philanthropy (4). Together, they control or influence more than $2.3 trillion in revenue and oversee nearly 6.5 million employees.
Women, Power and Age
Aside from that, here are two things I think are most noteworthy:
- The publisher defined power as hard power (currencies and constitutions), dynamic power (audiences, communities and creative influence) and soft power (what leaders do with their influence).
- Based on the stated ages, 54% were women over age 50; 25% were over age 60.
In addition, in January 2019, a record number of women became part of the 116th Congress: 103 women were elected or re-elected to serve our country.
So why does this lift my heart?
I was “one of those”
I will readily admit that back in the day I was a feminist. I remember being denied using my credit card, (more than once,) because I was a woman. When I was repeatedly asked how I was going to pay for my purchase, I pointed to the sign that said “90 days same as cash with your credit card.” The male clerk accused me of being “one of those,” aka feminist, as he denied my purchase, because I was married and my credit card had a hyphenated last name. I was told to let my husband pay for the items.
And yet when I reflect on those “radical times,” I think we did a disservice to the movement and to men, in general. Women, myself included, in our new-found freedoms of the 60’s and 70’s, were eager to change the world. And in the process of changing the rules, we excluded men and made them wrong for being who they are and how they were raised. We changed the rules and didn’t help them learn the new rules. In retrospect, we may have emasculated men and made the feminist movement scarier than it needed to be.
How We Use Power
In many ways, I think we may be facing residual effects of that, as I observe some of the old white men in power now. It seems that they have a visceral reaction to powerful women…whether it is hard power, dynamic power or soft power. Somehow, I think that “soft power” or what women do with their influence now, may be the most unnerving form of power for the old guard, because it is without coercion or manipulation or dominance. The power these women have comes from creating a vision and standing for the good of the whole, not for a few. Their visions are compelling and elicit alignment.
And as we enter a new decade, I am encouraged. The #MeToo movement has raised awareness in so many ways. I saw the movie Bombshell about Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment of the women in his company. At the end of the movie, an 80-year-old man seated in my row, asked me how I felt about the movie and if I’d experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. He showed genuine concern and sadness when I said I felt sick and that I had experienced similar treatment. During our conversation, I learned that this man had been a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and a Viet Nam Marine…a pretty macho kind of guy, yet one who had awakened to the 21st century and understood the difference between real power and abuse of power.
From Type A to Type T
This conversation made me feel hopeful because you see, it was almost 5 years ago when I wrote, From Type A to Type T: How To Be A Transformational Leader In A Bottom Line World. I wrote about the difference between how men and women demonstrate power. Traditionally, men have been wired to demonstrate power through competition, bottom-line thinking and bravado. Women, on the other hand, have been more comfortable demonstrating power through influence, inclusion, collaboration and empowerment. Women often make decisions that are “for the good of the whole” rather than for self-interest or self-protection. A transformational leader (Type T), demonstrates a blend of the best attributes of both men and women.
So with 2019 as The Year of the Woman, I think we are beginning to see and appreciate the true power of women. Consider that the top 5 women on the Forbes list are all the first women to hold their positions. Even the Harvard Business Review’s research says that women are better leaders!
As we enter the 3rd decade of the 21st century, let’s welcome and encourage all men and women to use our hard power, dynamic power and soft power. We all have the capacity and capability to include, empower and look out for the good of the whole and make the world a better place.
Be the Change!
Marty Stanley, Certified Speaking Professional, is an author, executive coach. Her guiding vision is to empower people to live their dreams. If you or your team are ready to create or rejuvenate your vision for 2020, with a real commitment to action, contact Marty today: 816-695-5453 or 858-432-6764 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com
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