With women, we need to show that safety and trust, and “We-over-I” is the starting point for development. They are our gifts when settled and they are our bane when unclear. When we are unsafe, we do some challenging things, for both men and women. Women can undermine other women, compete with them, put them down in front of men who matter. They are not doing that to be unkind, though the experience is unkind. They do it because they feel fundamentally unsafe, and they cope by being extra tough. Sometimes that is seen as showing the sort of leadership predisposition that works in male dominated structures (more competitive, aggressive, promoting self over others).
But worse than all, and utterly pervasive with women, is our incredible self-doubt: “I am not good enough, I don’t look good enough, I am not clever enough, I am not thin enough, I am not … I am not… I am not…”.
We have come to know that even with women who say this isn’t true for them, it is a rare woman who doesn’t have this seeded in some part of their world view (physical, intellectual, technical).
This is hard for men to understand. They will say “I feel that too”, and yes, we understand (because it’s a lot of the work Dattner Group does) that yes, men are also challenged by self-doubt or undermining internal language. But the world many women live in constantly reinforces their self-doubt and lack of safety.
THAT’s what we are committed to changing.
Leadership must be inclusive and collaborative, or we don’t make it in the next 12 – 15 years: that’s the work of Homeward Bound. We must build insight in women to know they are not alone (at any level) and what they feel and think about themselves is often felt and thought by the majority of other women: the work of Compass. If we know this and accept it, we will put ourselves forward, with the right help (the work of Open Door), we will be seen, selected, supported and promoted.
And the outcome for all of us is more women leading, and that’s better for our world.