Inspiring leadership is the central focus of WeInspireWe. This organization was founded on the belief that we are all leaders – regardless of title or tenure, age or gender – and we all have the ability to rise up to greatness. By focusing on inspiring one, we inspire many – amplifying our impact on the world around us.
The more I work in this business, the more I believe that great leadership is not the definition that we’ve grown up with. It is not the older, white male at the top of the organization. Great leadership is being able to inspire, to influence and to be effective in your role – wrapped with your own unique blend of personality and authenticity.
Leadership is what I do, all day, every day. And I love it.
But at the heart of that, inspiring women in leadership is a passion of mine. I have shied away from separating attributes of female leaders vs male leaders because I believe that leadership is within us all – but unfortunately, not everyone sees the world this way. And I’ve come to see more and more that until women and men collaborate together on establishing and building great leaders, then we will continue to see the gold standard of leadership as that older, white male.
In this era of #metoo and #timesup, the chasm between men and women has widened and has created a fear for many on how best to engage, be present and be supportive without being offensive. In my humble opinion, until we have real conversations about what is needed, what is on the table vs off limits, and until we break down our assumptions about those around us, we will not advance as a society in seeing greater leadership opportunities for minorities.
I recently saw “This Changes Everything” which is a documentary produced by Geena Davis and her research company founded in understanding how media impacts children. This documentary was powerful in shedding light on the lack of female directors and underrepresentation of females in the entertainment industry. One of my favorite quotes from this film was by Meryl Streep: “We are only able to make progress when men take a stand. It's chivalry of the 21st Century.” And while I would love to believe that we all have equal opportunity to get exactly what we want out of life, I find this statement to be extremely true.
Men need to take a stand for women and for minorities in general. Until those in power begin to break down the walls and barriers, until those in power lift others up around them, until those in power change our definition of leadership – we will never see the equality, equity and opportunity that is necessary for our futures. Chivalry is not dead – it is just being redefined as a way to support female empowerment and leadership. Chivalry is the opportunity that men have to step out of the way and create greater opportunity around them.
So how do we do this?
I invite you all to participate in this discussion with me. As I continue to research and explore the subject, I’ll share these insights with you…and ask that you share your thoughts and opinions with me too. The more we talk through this, the better the end result.
So, what do men need to do to support women?
What do women need to do to encourage men?
How can we all look at leadership without gender bias and with the greater good in mind?
I look forward to hearing from you and continuing this conversation!