A blog for Women's Day should celebrate what it is that women bring. The fact that we so enthusiastically flock to the women's banner, in my view can be explained by the fact that we often don't feel acknowledged for our contribution. If the book Everyday Sexism is anything to go by, more the opposite.
Growing up in this user unfriendly environment, holds women back so it can be hard to feel entitled to success. Although this cultural imperative puts us at a disadvantage, I believe passionately that women can do much more than they think.
How to overcome our self doubt
In celebration of Women's Day I would like to share how one woman bridged the expectation gap.
On my website there is a testimonial:
“I discovered that I am actually a more natural leader than I gave myself credit for, and I am able now to relax into a role that is a much more natural fit than I had previously understood".
This woman was a head of department in a government ministry and was anxious about the need, following her recent promotion, to be more outward-facing and build a strong network with "important people".
To help her do this we started by identifying her Intuitive Personal Brand, using images to create a strap line that made her giggle in recognition. It was: "A leader who likes to to get things done well, through taking others with her". She did this by enthusiastically sharing her vision and new ideas about how they could make it happen. She loved doing this; in fact she couldn't help it!
As part of the work we did, we set up some opportunities for her to meet up with some of the "important people" she needed to connect with to raise the profile of her department. But each time we met to review her efforts she would report back that for some compelling reason she just hadn't got around to making it happen! When I pointed out the pattern, she broke down saying she really didn't think she was cut out for this and maybe she was better off not working!
I passed over the paper tissues and when the overwhelming feelings had subsided we referred back to her strap line: "A leader who loves to get things done well, through taking others with her". As she remembered the excitement and sense of affirmation she had experienced when we created it, she reconnected with her natural desire to share her vision in an inclusive way. In that moment she realised that she knew exactly what to do and when we met for our last session she was on fire with all the initiatives she had taken, which just happened to be, you guessed it, with "important people"!
Fully connecting with who we are
Often what women need to enable them to perform at their best is to strongly connect with how, only we as individuals do things. Sadly we are inclined to forget the value we bring as a result of being preoccupied with being good girls and trying to get it right in a male defined environment. This can be very demotivating and causes many to falter in their progression towards executive roles.
Celebrating who we are, seems to me, to be what International Women's Day is all about. And to see women taking ownership of who they are and committing to being that, no matter what, gives me great joy.