Sitting with my therapist, I expressed my frustration about the latest leadership book I was reading. Another author was sharing how important it is to develop skills to meet the other person where they are, take time to listen more, understand their needs and find more ways to meet said needs. I asked my therapist where I fit in in all of this. If I spend the amount of time these authors are suggesting, focusing on the comfort and well-being of my staff, students, family, community, etc. there is nothing left for me! “For goddess sake, I already take care of everyone, am I supposed to be more codependent?!” That’s when it hit me, these are not written for me. These books are written for men, or more accurately, for masculine personalities.
Concerning leadership, my therapist and I speak about boundaries, understanding what is in my influence, what is none of my business, what is fact and what is an assumption, what is a safe way to address uncomfortable situations, and how to hold accountability for the entire team, including myself.
When I next gathered with my support group of women entrepreneurs and said, “Leadership books are not written for women in leadership, they are written for men.” They all jumped up in excitement! “Yes!” “I know!” Making the big question, what would a guide to leadership for women look like? What do we need help navigating? What do we need to learn and master?
I think as women we are natural care takers. Whether this is natural or nurtured by our culture, we care for the people that surround us and we are expected to. When we don’t there are repercussions not only within ourselves, but within society.
In society they may be overt like calling you a cold bitch, unfeeling, sellout, etc. Or it may be subtle like not trusting your opinion, overlooking you, or not inviting you to the table.
Internally it may look like over compensation with effort, support, or credit to other people. It may look like imposter syndrome where you don’t trust yourself. It can even look like inconsistent boundaries and emotional states. So, if we are natural care takers who need to learn how to stay in our own lanes and put on our own oxygen masks first, how do we balance the expectation of being Betty Crockers and powerful leaders at the same time?
It’s time for more leadership books for women. Maybe it’s time to research and write one myself. What are your recommendations?