I believe in the positive impact of courage. Trust Courage is what motivates Bill to give me new and challenging responsibilities at Giant Leap. Try Courage is what empowers me to step up and grab those new opportunities with both hands. I’m fortunate. I work for a company that constantly encourages me to grow. Not all of us are in that type of organization.
Now, we can’t control all things, but we can influence some things. I was recently at the University of Michigan, working with over 100 women, talking about the unique ways that women can leverage the power of courage to become more effective leaders. I was awed by their enthusiasm. Across all business sectors, women are underrepresented in positions of leadership. There is no one way to address this gap, but I believe courage can be a powerful tool.
Here are the three tips I shared with those women.
- Start With Yes – Eileen Collins was the first female shuttle commander at NASA. She first commanded a shuttle flight in 1999 and then again in 2005. Eileen said, “When I was in fourth grade, I read this article on the Gemini program, “I’m nine years old and I’m thinking, ‘Why would anybody say no?’ Of course I need to go out in space.”Often we let self-doubt creep in and allow it to erode our big ideas before we have even begun to try. Next time you’re faced with an opportunity that is pushing you out of your comfort zone and into your courage zone, quiet the self-doubt, and start with yes.
- Stick Together – According to the American Management Association, 95% of women felt undermined at some point in their career by other women. For instance, the Queen Bee boss is the alpha female who tries to preserve her power at all costs. Instead of promoting her younger counterparts, she feels threatened by them, judges them, talks about them, and ends up obstructing their attempts to climb the corporate ladder.Let’s look at the early career of Christine Legarde (Spoiler: It’s successful. She is now the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.) In 1980, she was looking for her first job and encountered difficulty finding a firm in Paris open to having a female partner. Finally, a frustrated Lagarde nabbed an interview with a Chicago-based firm and found herself seated across from Monique Nion, who also happened to be managing partner of the Paris office. “She was a very affectionate and tough woman at the same time. There was the affectionate – ‘I’ll look after the associates; I’ll help you grow up’ – and there was the tough woman who was making more money than the men.” The combination was irresistible, and Lagarde took Baker’s offer.
Start practicing a theory of abundance and recognize that all ships will rise with the tide. Encourage the other women you work with, help make their ideas stronger, and revel in their success. Remember, we’ve got to stick together.
- Create Safety – In Courage Goes To Work, Bill introduces the concept of protective frames and the role they play when taking on opportunities that require courage. Bill’s daughter Bina has cerebral palsy. Kids with CP are often slow to walk, and some never learn to walk. They fall down a lot, and banging into hard surfaces again and again certainly dampens their interest in risking the effort.But Bill stumbled upon a way to create a protective frame for Bina. They started to practice standing and walking on their backyard trampoline. Gone was the unforgiving ground; if Bina fell, she would bounce and giggle. Now Bina is a running, jumping, dancing machine – because she had time with a protective frame to feel safe.
How can you create similar safety for yourself or other female coworkers? Do you need to learn new skills? Practice giving that big speech to a few supportive people? Find a mentor who provides you with valuable perspective? Figure out the courageous act you need to take, what reasons you’ve been giving yourself to not take it, and Create Safety for yourself so your excuses don’t hold you back from your own potential.
If you were there, what burning questions would you want me to address? What would make that hour valuable for you? Tell me in the comments below or share them over on Facebook.