Welcome to Women's History month! Similar to the 28 days we just closed out, where we focused on the contributions of the African American community, stepping into March, we are encouraged to do the same concerning women. Over the next 30, we refocus our frame and pay homage to women's immaculate power and force while we look ahead to what she will bring to the table next!
As women in business—a world in which we are still proving we belong by shattering an immense amount of glass along the way—we thought it important to put leadership in the spotlight. You see, leaders have such incredible influence in shaping our world and crafting it into the type of place we work, live, and play in. They significantly impact our culture, have a massive effect on the direction the tides move in, and have monumental clout over informing trends—quick example. One leader from one tech giant decides to enforce massive company layoffs, and the rest follows. Leaders devise a little bit of monkey-see, monkey-do syndrome.
This being the case, we can see this predicament as either a glass-half-full or half-empty scenario. Which direction the pendulum will swing has all to do with how we view today's leaders. To simplify it even further, we'll just ask it this way, "Do we actually have leaders leading?" For those of us that believe we do, that glass is overflowing. However, if we tend to wonder if those in charge truly measure up and fit the bill of what we imagine when we consider leadership, then that glass is quite empty. When is the last time you stop to ponder the meaning of leadership? Take a good look around. Go ahead. Pause and see if you can spot just one who meets your definition.
We hate to be the Debbie Downers in the room as we lean more towards finding the good in everything. Yet, in our own search for leadership, results have fallen a bit short. Today's leaders seem to calculate their arrival to the position on more superficial aspects. Status, power, money, fame, and influence appear to be what matters most in today's top-ranking world. Have some or all of these, and voila! You're a leader! Wait, one more ingredient is required. We can't forget the title. If they say you're a leader, then you're a leader!
While you search for your perfect leadership specimen, consider this with us. If we genuinely have leaders in place, why are there so many conversations and content dedicated to outlining and defining good or strong leadership? Hundreds of programs, courses, and workshops help us to navigate and identify what it means to be a leader. You can literally now major in leadership. This commitment to generating the perfect commander or chief tells us that we have a leadership problem, and just maybe what holds true is leaders aren't born but made.
We shouldn't have to distinguish between good and bad leadership.
If one has been handed the crown, shouldn't one already be worthy of the role? Heavy is the head that wears it. Yet we live in a culture where we are all chasing and elbowing one another for a seat called the throne when we should be in pursuit of crafting a table with plenty of chairs that has room beyond a single occupant.
"Build a culture of 'us,' and not a cult of 'I'." In 2021 Inc. magazine shared this encouragement to business leaders after Spanx's founder and then CEO Sara Blakely gifted every single employee with two first-class airplane tickets and $10K. It was her way of saying thank you after Blackstone announced its intentions to purchase a majority of shares in the company, leveling its worth to $1.2 billion. Sara realized a simple truth. Her company did not arrive at this place on her shoulders alone. A 'we' brought 'us' here.
Why was this leader's action so shocking? Sara broke the internet and overwhelmed the virtual newsstands with this mighty leadership move. It was all anyone could talk about for the remainder of 2021. But isn't this the pinnacle of real leadership? Shouldn't we expect our current leaders to look just like this? Why aren't our glasses full versus our hearts overwhelmed with sorrow when we scan the fields of leaders before us? Is it time to redefine the role of leadership and do more women in the seat get us there?
Stick with us this month as we celebrate and honor women who are teaching us how to lead. In a world thirsty for it, take heart. The leaders you are looking for are here!