There is a system. And the rule of the system seems to be: If you want my resources, you gotta fit in. In the business world, whether in reference to raising seed money or spearheading a launch, this often translates to "You wanna lead, lady? Better man up."
A lot of companies are trying to buck the system by intentionally funneling women into leadership positions, but those programs don't always succeed. Women drop out ("in droves," say most headlines on the subject). Is it because we're soft, lazy, unskilled, or "not leadership material?" No! We're simply tired of putting on the masculine masks (maskulines?) that companies hand out like parking passes as we climb the ladder.
Trying to be something you're not is taxing, and it's not how ground-breaking work gets done. A Harvard Business Review study found that "Overinvestment in one's image diminishes the emotional and motivational resources available for larger purposes. People who focus on how others perceive them are less clear about their goals, less open to learning from failure, and less capable of self-regulation."
Sounds grim, but what happens if we turn the tables on perception? The same article suggests that we should "anchor women's development efforts in a sense of leadership purpose rather than in how women are perceived." Men are encouraged to devote energy to how they'll lead and not squander it on how they'll be perceived if they lead. We can do the same if we have the courage and support of our sisters.
Did the HBR really say sisterhood helps? Pretty much: "Companies should encourage [women] to build communities in which similarly positioned women can discuss their feedback, compare notes, and emotionally support one another's learning. Identifying common experiences increases women's willingness to talk openly, take risks, and be vulnerable without fearing that others will misunderstand or judge them."
Yes. Yes. Yes. That's our whole jam at Emerging Women! We want to help you hone in on your leadership purpose by creating a safe space for radical authenticity. We invite strong women like Janet Mock and Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert into the community to model radical authenticity in its many textures and hues. They tell it like it is, give voice to the doubts and imperfections, and own the vulnerabilities that will soon alchemize into strengths. They are unapologetic, tender, forgiving and inclusive. We hear that kind of delivery - it strikes a deep chord with the cosmic feminine. And it legitimizes those of us who are working with parallel experiences, but haven't yet voiced them (in private let alone in public).
So let's make a pledge. Let's drop the weight of these masks so we can focus on our soul's purpose. Let's actively participate in a community of radical authenticity. Share your strange, wild truth and celebrate it in others. We will fuel ourselves and each other, and we will spark a movement of leaders who are not simply passing as successful, or happy, or perfect, but who are real and ready to heal this world and make it a more compassionate, innovative, abundant and sustainable place.