If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
Have you ever read a book that dramatically shifted the path that you took for your career? I have. The book is Framebreak - The Radical Redesign of American Business by Mitroff, Mason & Pearson. I read the book for a MBA class. The authors aimed the book at America's corporate executives. They seek to convince top executives to view their corporations and the business world holistically. Organizations, they suggest, should create four distinct centers within their structures focusing on the handling of information, the psychological well-being of all employees, service to humanity, and corporate vision and global implications. By "breaking the frame" of outdated organizational forms, businesses can break free of the systemic forces holding them back and face the complex ethical demands of business. While the book isn't any longer in publication, I still cherish it on my bookshelf as a reminder of what my career purpose is. Its theories shaped my view of Corporate America and drove me to want to become a change agent.
With all the attention bestowed upon women during the current election period, I'm reminded of how powerful we are. We have the power to influence. But only if we understand how to harness this power. As women, we are natural change agents. A change agent leads change within the organization, by championing the change, and managing and planning its implementation. A change agent must understand the reasoning behind the change. Here's the key as to why women are great change agents: a change agent needs to help to communicate the excitement, possibilities, and details of the change to others within the organization. And women possess strong communication skills and social intelligence. How can we then put ourselves into the position to lead change?
- Throw the excuses overboard. It's time to drop the "I don't have the power, time, money, education, influence, appearance, experience, maturity or support" to impact change. By focusing on excuses, women are denying their power. Women control 80 percent of US spending. By 2014, the World Bank predicts that the global income of women will grow by more than5 trillion. In both emerging markets and developed nations, women's power of influence extends well beyond the traditional roles of family and education to government, business, and the environment. Excuses just hold women back. All it takes is for a woman to take just one small step toward the change she wants to bring about.
- Stop the finger-pointing blame game. Let's just leave that for the politicians instead. Learn to respect gender differences. Yes, the old boys' club still exists. On average, women are still paid a lower wage than men. There isn't enough female representation in the C-Suite or on boards. Women only make up only 17 percent of Congress. Women still battle many corporate stereotypes, such as being too emotional. However, the blame game finger-pointing can keep women stuck and hinder them from moving forward. It's wasted energy. Instead, women can embrace their innate optimism and use the energy to come up with additional strategies to break down the barriers.
- Understand the value of community. While it might take only one woman to start making a difference, there is power in numbers. Building a community of like-minded individuals, both women and men, to further the cause will propel the efforts forward to the next level. I found in my own corporate career that I was oftentimes able to influence change when I had external collaborators who helped give the issue credibility. Plus, having both men and women committed to the issue prevented me from being viewed as the "angry female" who was just being too emotional. Different business experiences and approaches broaden the realm of influence, which will work to a woman's advantage to be able to advance change.
So, ask yourself today how you can start being like a pesky little mosquito to inspire change for other women.
Follow Marion Chamberlain on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marionchamberla