Women Helping Women Succeed

Today is International Women's Day and as I reflect upon that I wanted to share a recent conversation I had with a female leader in my life.  

Over the course of my working life, I have had a lot of interaction with both men and women but in every role that I have had I have reported directly to a woman.  I like dealing with women, I like working with women and over the years I have better learned to manage how I am managed by women, but even still, there are struggles.

I was telling this leader how in the past I have been told by my female management that I have no leadership ability, or worse, they stick me into roles where I am disengaged from people, getting no visibility, hidden away.  I described it as feeling like someone is always trying to put a lid on me.

She stated that for some women, seeing confident and capable women makes them feel insecure or threatened.  I asked why they wouldn't just leverage that strength for the benefit of the team rather than trying to diminish it. She said some women are just not wired that way and that hopefully as women make progress they will stop holding each other down.

It is so sad to me.  Here we are, celebrating women, celebrating our achievements as women, and yet we sit in our offices finding ways to hold other women back?  I would be glowing with pride if one of the women who currently report to me was promoted to surpass me!  How thrilled I would be to hopefully have had some influence in helping them to get ahead.

I believe in empowering all people, men and women, to realize their full potential.  I admire the women in my life who have helped others to get ahead and who have seen the strength in others as the strength of the team.  We cannot succeed alone, but we all rely on others to make things happen.  

Despite the fact that I have worked with and for a few insecure women who wanted to pin me down, I am so grateful to have had a few outstanding female leaders as well.  Women who set others up to shine and not to fail.  Women who use their resources to shine a spotlight on others.  Women who value confidence in another woman and cultivate it rather than try to push it down.

I would add that my husband has always been an advocate for strong women as well and has always been highly supportive of helping women succeed, especially me.  Nothing is stronger or more attractive in a man than one who empowers and embraces a strong, confident woman.