The New Paradigm of Feminine Leadership—and What it Means for You
Executive Coach and Entrepreneur in Residence Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin has made it her mission to see more women in positions of power. See how the scale is shifting.
In recent months, I've launched a new endeavor, entitled The Gaia Project for Women's Leadership. The focus of our programming has been almost entirely on training women leaders for the next big leap in their careers. As a part of our work thus far, we've been engaged in a dynamic and powerful conversation about what women's leadership means right now, and the future change that could result from female leaders stepping wholly into their talents. So what does a new paradigm of female leadership look like in practice? Here's a few ways in which women leaders are advancing themselves, their causes and the world for the better.
1. We're embracing authenticity—everywhere
One of the most fundamental aspects of the new paradigm of female leadership is that women leaders are moving toward being exactly who they are, at work, at home and in the world, without shame or regret. And this is a classic example of how to model success to others—by being happy with who we are internally, and showing that to the outside world. As for what it looks like in practice at work and elsewhere, it means, fundamentally, that we're comfortable in our own skin, willing to admit what we don't know, and refusing to pretend to be something that we're not. Authenticity is particularly important for women leaders because we're often scrutinized more than men, thanks to long-standing gender paradigms. Be yourself, always, and you will be trustworthy, respected, and admired for your gifts as well as your flaws.
2. We're supporting one another
Another aspect of the new paradigm of female leadership is that more and more women are refusing to compete with other women in the workplace, opting instead to lift up other women at work in concrete, change-making ways. Shifting one's mindset is a critical part of this change. For generations, we've been told that there's only room for a few women at the top of the corporate ladder, and as a result, we've internalized the idea that in order for one woman to succeed, another has to fail. This mindset only perpetuates the status quo. Look around your workplace and ask yourself: am I lifting up the women I work with, women on my team and women who could use my mentorship? If not, it's time to act. The truth of women's leadership is that, in fact, there is plenty of room for all of us at the top, and when one of us succeeds, we all win.
3. We're aligning our work and life on our own terms
As female leaders, many of us have recognized that traditional notions of "balance" or "having it all" are impossible given today's 24/7 work culture. However, as individuals, we are more and more frequently charting unique courses that uplift our values and lead us toward lives we love. For some women, like Alice & Olivia CEO Stacey Bendet, this means returning to work on a modified schedule—one that allows for lots of mommy and baby time—shortly after birthing a child. For others, it means negotiating to work from home one day a week without any diminishment in pay. The new paradigm of women's leadership sees many of us asking, for the first time, to work in ways that respect the totality of our lives from a holistic level, and thereby to create lives that make us happy in all respects. The message of this model of leadership is that if we know what we want, and ask for it with careful negotiation, we can indeed have lives that are in alignment with what we value most.
4. We're making our voices heard
Lastly, as a part of our growing visibility as women leaders, more and more of us are using our voices to act for change on critical issues impacting women everywhere. Whether it's equal pay, family leave, flextime or diversity initiatives, we're throwing our weight behind policy changes that are making a huge difference for women around the country. Critical to this point, however, is remembering that you can make a difference in small ways as well as big ones. Working to change policies inside your company is just as important as working for federally mandated equal pay, for example. Striking a new balance in your own home in terms of childcare and household chores models a realignment on gender for the next generation. And modeling positive work/life alignment sets a standard for others, and makes it easier for those who follow in your footsteps. In other words, every action helps. And stepping into the new model of women's leadership guarantees success for all women, now and for the future.
To learn more about The Gaia Project for Women's Leadership, and to gain access to a 2016 program featuring Ivanka, click here. For more from Elizabeth, read her recent posts on our site—and visit her online at emclaughlin.com and 40percentandrising.com.
From the Ivanka Trump Collection: Layered Sweater and Leggings
Image Courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Photographer: Kenneth Grzymala