Women today have the opportunity to get into leadership positions, build their wealth, choose their partners wisely and continue to nurture their prosperity in motherhood. This reality has, however, created threats in a society that expects women to play second fiddle to men. But with great wisdom, women can balance money and power and still be great wives and moms.
As women aspire to become significant players in the society, not just at homes but also in the workplace, they must learn to exercise the power they have and also recognise opportunities that can push them to greater heights. There is no denying that today women play a significant role in our economy and are the pillars of most homes. It is important that women continue to play their multiple roles without ever losing their God-given nurturing qualities. This is possible and does not have to compromise their aspirations to power and wealth.
While most women want to make money and be successful, majority shy from the word “power”, and some even insist that they don’t want it and don’t need it. Because of their upbringing and societal expectations, to many women, power feels like something they leave for men to fight over. Yet the dictionary’s definition of power is the ability or capacity to perform or act effectively, something every woman should want to be able to do.
But looking at what is happening in our society today, women have more freedom to become leaders in all aspects of life and they have the freedom to do it their own way. They no longer have to occupy the ‘manly’ roles that men call powerful in order to be powerful. Women are now political leaders, business owners, company executives and managers, civil servants, and, indeed, women are to be found everywhere doing things that men do, but not necessarily as men do it. And that is the difference that women bring to power and money.
Whether women chose to assume traditional roles or to forge new trails, this country and the world needs them to step up and bring their wisdom and influence to the forefront for the benefit of our children, our communities and planet earth. Women should not shrink from power and this includes the power to make money and build wealth. They should not refuse to stand up for themselves and what they know is the right and prudent choice. And that choice should include becoming leaders and powerful players in wealth creation. The opposite of power is helplessness and women should not allow themselves to be, or remain, in that position.
Fear often keeps women silent and stops them from fully reaching their potential. Fear, along with a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness, leads women to the conviction that they cannot act effectively, especially when there is money to be made or compete for senior management or political positions. They will remain in a job they hate because they fear quitting and losing the income, freedom and power the job gives them. They may not pursue a promotion even though they have high credentials and are ready to move to the next level because they fear competing with men or the position is more suitable for a man. They will not pursue a business venture in male dominated fields and will instead chose soft landings such as boutiques and salons. Women should not have the fear of venturing into male domains, but on the other should not try to become like men to succeed. They should instead embrace a feminine leadership style.
This is a new type of leadership that embraces a woman’s desire to express her nurturance as well as her decisiveness in decision-making and wealth creation. When a woman presents her authentic self and maintains her integrity in all situations, she allows herself to be really powerful – not as powerful as a man, but as herself. To become powerful and successful, women must combine work and personal time into a satisfying and more holistic life. They are able to bring their visions into all areas of life including the way to manage organizations and make money, without necessarily doing it the traditional ‘man-way’.
The whole dynamic of power has changed today, regardless of gender. Power today is more about the ability to influence and to impact, and to move people and to effect change, and shape minds. It is not about muscular strength. That is true whatever the platform, whatever the issue, whatever the realm. Today, women have the ability to be heard and to build their businesses and create wealth. They can use the traditional methods to do this or use technology such as web-based resources and other networks.
One of the most critical requirements of leadership is the need to be truly ethical and to authentically express who you are in the real world. There can be no gaps between your public image and private life. When you are genuinely passionate about what you do, this comes across to everyone you encounter. It is impossible to express one set of values today in your business or work place and act in another way in your private life – eventually you will be found out and lose all credibility.
Authenticity and consistence of self are requirements for good leadership. It comes back to trust – how can you trust someone who is not who they say they are? So if women want to step into leadership, they must make a strong commitment to truth – they need to be who they say they are. You can become a powerful leader only to the extent that you are willing to have the discipline and caring to maintain your character and your moral stance. This has been lacking amongst many of our leaders and women now have the opportunity to show it can be done differently. You can make money without being corrupt; you don’t have to sell drugs or rob a bank to make money; you can use your wealth to better the society; you can instill positive money values in your children and be their best role model.
Before you even start calling yourself wealthy or powerful, you need to stop and pause a few questions to yourself. What type of leader are you? Do you inspire others? Do you reveal your true character through your actions? Are you worthy of the trust you expect others to place in your leadership? Are you authentic? Authenticity allows true leaders build commonality. Do you share with others your resources or ideas? Sharing builds trust, even when it means sharing your vulnerabilities and your personality beyond your work place or business. Remaining true to yourself allows you as a leader to connect and engage with those around you, build a team, and achieve lasting influence. If in the process you make money, you will enjoy it and find what money can do for you and those you care for a rewarding experience.
One of the hardest and most rewarding things to do is to be a leader of your own life. It is important to take time to sit down and make a strategic life plan, including specific goals you want to achieve in the future. It is critical to be realistic about what you want to achieve and when. You will most likely have to make short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals, such as building your asset base. If your goals conflict with the goals or plans of your partner or even the business you manage or company you work for, you have to realistically rethink them and also discuss them with those concerned.
The first simple step to achieving your goals and ambitions is planning. Yet most people define “planning” as a checklist for the week or the countless business plans and strategy sessions at work. It is critical, though, to take this same approach with your life goals, identifying your priorities, and confronting both what you have accomplished and what you still want to achieve. Life will throw inevitable curve-balls, but if you don’t have a plan, how can you begin to get to that place you hoped to?
One of the most important things you must be willing to embrace is not to sacrifice having a full life to be a successful leader or wealthy woman. Women must move from that model of male success, where it’s all work and competition and little or no personal life. Women must learn to combine work, family, hobbies and philanthropic activities to create a life that is more satisfying. They should not settle for a corporate or business life that leaves no time for family and outside interests.
As a leader, your ability to model an integrated life to your employees makes it more likely that they too, will emulate you and become leaders in their own way. You are much more likely to create a sustainable life and leadership style if all parts of yourself are being expressed. While women should never shy away from leadership roles and wealth creation, they must use these positions to change our society to a better place for all. They must do more than men have done.
Published in July 2013