Updated: Mar 14
Living in a time where the leadership of women is accelerating is exciting. Having more women in leadershipis a powerful and immensely important development. It’s important because female leadership changes the perceived conception about who can lead and what qualities arenecessary to have inleadershippositions.The recent election of a presidential ticket that included a woman, a Black woman as vice president of the most powerful country on earth is world-changing. Women in these types of roles break down barriers and show everyone what women can - and should - achieve. What is the role men could and should play in these transformative times? Recent studies show that the public sees little distinction between men and women relative to many leadership traits. Large majorities say that when it comes to intelligence and innovation, men and women display those qualities equally. And solid majorities see no gender differences in ambition, honesty and decisiveness.
Unfortunately, even given all of this evidence, powerful women tend to be judged in different ways than powerful men. The goal of this brief piece has nothing to do with tackling that age old truth. I’m much more committed to lending a voice to the importance of men, particularly men who are powerful in their own right, to act as thought partners to their female counterparts. It’s always tempting to use the word ‘empower’ in these instances. However, a quick look at synonyms for the word ‘empower’ and it becomes immediately apparent that another word or phrase is warranted. Empower suggests concepts like authorizing, enabling, warranting… You get the picture. I prefer to see the relationship between men and women in professional settings as symbiotic. An opportunity for sharing powerful, world changing ideas.
There is much to be gained by everyone when there is mutual respect and active support by men for their women counterparts. Men who (walk in partnership) with the life success of women often find that they have increased access to information and broader networks in their own organization, especially if they (walk with) someone outside their functional business unit, says David Smith, co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor (again, I don’t personally love the word mentor) Women (Bibliomotion, 2016).The Harvard Business School found that some of the key behavioral themes associated with gender inclusive leadership that support women’s career advancement are:
using their authority to push workplace culture toward gender equality
thinking of gender inclusiveness as part of effective talent management
providing gender-aware mentoring and coaching
practicing other-focused leadership, not self-focused leadership
The public and transparent execution of a truly cooperative relationship, fully supported by men is one of the powerful opportunities for this generation. I want to be counted among a growing number of men who walk in unity with the powerful leadership of women around the world!