I recently attended a wonderful masterclass courtesy of Jo Oogarah last week. It was called 'How to elevate your career using feminine power'. Jo is an empowerment coach for women and someone to follow here on LinkedIn. At first I was utterly captivated, but then I felt deeply saddened;
Actually I had been using my feminine power in my career but I had been made to feel that I was doing something wrong.
Working in engineering, I was surrounded by men. I looked to my bosses as an indication of how I should be behaving; Strong, powerful, firm, sometimes demanding. Aggressive when there was a big deadline. Stand your ground and fight fire with fire. In addition to this, I naturally found that I was building my networks and support structures (the legendary Circle of Trust), looking after my team to ensure they got the bonuses they deserved. Looking after any visitors to the offices by taking them out for dinner and drinks. Taking calls at all hours to answer questions. Listening and trying my best to support them. Giving support structures to my team to ensure they are not overwhelmed. Looking at professional development and training when needed. Checking in with my direct reports regularly, starting the conversation with 'How are you doing?'. Yep. I was being an empathetic, nurturing boss who cared to listen.
Not only did I want to learn from my wonderful bosses, I wanted to add to it to become the boss that I always wanted to have.
I'm not a mother myself, but I found myself naturally behaving maternally and leaning right into it. These attributes were ultimately thrown in my face, branded as weak, bureaucratic and a waste of time. I thought I had failed as a boss, because it wasn't what everyone else was doing. I ultimately left the corporate world behind, because I felt that I couldn't find a company that allowed me to be true to myself and value the people. I was being pushed to achieve deadlines, KPIs and to screw everything and everyone else. The higher I got on the ladder, the harder the push. I really tried to shape myself to the molds that I had seen and I pushed myself to my limit, but my mental and physical health suffered massively.
I couldn't remember who I was anymore. I was angry, aggressive and never enjoyed the little fun moments anymore.
I was scared to speak up because I was working in a job that I felt massively underqualified for. I HAD to try and make this work, no matter the cost otherwise I would be the stupid little girl who tried to play with the big boys and lost (Harsh right? But this is what my brain was telling me). I'm really sad that I didn't find a coaching program like Jo's 5 years ago, as it could have really supported and strengthened my belief that I was on the right path. This further strengthens my belief that my new venture is needed more and more, as women climb the ladders to the leadership table, filled with doubt and negative self-talk like I was.
Sure, women are still outnumber in the realm of STEM, but with a strong understanding that what I could bring would be valuable could have helped me work without burning myself out or changing my core being.
(fun fact: people are more likely to stay in their jobs if they have an empathetic leader…. Surprise surprise, women are more likely to be empathetic leaders) Whilst I am out of the corporate rat race, I strive to learn more about authentic female leadership in all its powerfully empathetic and vulnerable glory. I'm so happy to announce that I have been accepted to the Inspired Women Lead mentorship program. I will be connected with women leaders globally, networking and sharing ideas on critical topics affecting all of us. I hope to have exposure to stories of how others are making this work and mold myself into an authentically feminine leader. I hope to learn skills, adding to my experience to share this with my clients.
Because ladies…. We ARE on the right track and together we ARE stronger.
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