Have we turned into a country of followers? Everywhere I look, I see men and women attempting to be like their neighbors, doing their best to look like them, act like them, purchasing the things they have and professing the same values. For the first time in my lifetime, it has become fashionable to be following others, i.e. "Who do you follow on Facebook? Who do you follow on Twitter?"
The question is, do we really want the next generation to follow and not lead? As a woman in business, I believe women in AMERICA are ready to lead! But, we have to be willing to risk changing the status quo.
A day doesn't go by that the media doesn't want to exemplify all businesswomen in the image of Sheryl Sandberg. Now understand, I don't have a problem with Sheryl Sandberg, I have a problem with her becoming the example for all women in business. In my opinion, this is gender stereotyping at its worst. Again, not because Ms. Sandberg is not an exemplary example of a working woman, but because she doesn't represent us all. In my experience, women in business are the most varied group of all. They can be late teens to early seventies, married or single, lesbian or straight, with or without children and/or grandchildren, and uneducated or ultra-educated with degrees most men never consider. Women in 2013 don' fit any mold and can't be pigeonholed or labeled. The women of 2013 are unique.
Women believe in the education and nurturing of the next generation so I believe that leadership will be encouraged and innovation will create a better future.
All of this came to me recently when on more than four occasions I was asked who I follow on Facebook and Twitter. I was taken aback, as quite honestly, I don't follow anyone! Perhaps, better said, I do follow some, but I don't read what they post! Yes, I am on Facebook and I have a Twitter account, but I have these in order for people to follow me. After all, without these social networks, how would anyone find my blog?
However, in all the years I have had a Twitter account, I have never actually read anyone's tweets. Please tell me, am I strange? Do you spend hours every day reading other people's tweets rather than pontificating your own?
Of course, I've been told, by good authority, that the best way to gain followers on Twitter is to follow as many people as you can. However, if that's the game what type of leader are you really? If I had to read all the Tweets from the people I follow I wouldn't have time to build a successful business.
I have to admit, I view Facebook a little differently, as it certainly has given me an opportunity to stay in touch with people I haven't even thought of for years. But do these people really think I care about what they have for lunch or when they see a perfect sunset? I actually do care when wonderful life-changing events like births, deaths, weddings, anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated. Call me emotional, but I love to hear about happy or life-changing events that matter. Yes, they matter to me if they happened to an acquaintance from any time in my life! As a caring, human being, I rejoice in other people's happiness and ache when they share their pain and sadness. But, I in no way follow anyone on Facebook because I wish to wallow in envy, wasting my precious time on someone else's life, when I could, and should, be creating my own new adventures.
As a woman in business, I believe that I have a responsibility to be an example for what a capable woman -- not just in business, but as a community participant and human caretaker -- can be. Leadership is all about communication, and perhaps that is what people who spend their day on Twitter are looking for. So, the important question is what are the issues that are important to you and that you want to lead on? We need leaders!
Clearly, there is no leadership coming out of Washington, D.C. We have elected nothing but followers to Congress. Can you imagine if you led your business, or life for that matter, the way Congress is leading this country?
Leaders work toward a goal. Leaders understand that failure is always possible, but they are fearless risk takers anyway and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Leaders continually look for ways to solve old problem understanding that progress never happens when you stand still.
Leaders aren't concerned with what others will say about them because leaders have a strong sense of self and a higher purpose than being people pleasers. Finally, leaders never give up trying because they know that every try brings them closer to success. Leaders learn from their mistakes and take pride in making them.
Yes, women in business can learn from some of today's great women leaders, but they don't have to be just like them! Women leaders can seek them out on social media sites and read what they are thinking and then go on to be thought leaders of their own. Women thought leaders are a great contribution to the next generation as they prove they are willing risk-takers and adventurers. America is in dire need of new thought leaders and risk-takers to speak their mind and change the conversation.
Yes, I believe women in America are ready for the task.