Preamble: As you read this post, please be mindful that I believe both men and women, The Masculine and The Feminine, are required to lead for and into a future we need and one we must pursue. This post, and many others, emphasize The Feminine and women, because it and we have been missing from the leadership equation in business. Had men been missing, I hope and trust I would advocate for The Masculine. Why business? In developed countries business is a tremendous lever for change. For profit enterprises have both a sense of urgency and the resources to lead a paradigm shift, not to the exclusion, however, of government, not for profits, and other organized communities.
The Sign Reads
Emerging global conditions are like a neon sign flashing warnings of what’s required on the road ahead. It reads PARADIGM SHIFT.
What are the conditions behind this sign?
- Failing governments
- Failing economies that don’t respond to methods previously used to “fix” such problems
- Extreme weather conditions (This one is just beginning.)
- Out of control U.S. health care costs that we cannot fix
- Extinction/depletion of species and natural resources that will not and cannot be restored (Been fishing lately? Catch much?)
What’s called for is a BIG SHIFT - not a small adjustment, or a tweak, or a stronger pull of some previously used lever. These moves are akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The shift involves our assumption that
Growth is good.
Bigger is better.
More is desirous.
A bigger house. A bigger car. A bigger business. A bigger economy. Bigger breasts. Erection doesn’t last long enough? (Longer is the time version of bigger.) We can fix that too. Caution though - 3 days is too much. See your doctor.
Grow the economy. Grow your business. If your children aren’t tall enough give them growth hormones. And have you seen the growing girth of the population? Bigger portions please.
Because, after all, bigger is better. Growth is good. It’s the natural way of things, or is it?
To get bigger we are borrowing against a future that won’t exist, at least not in the way we picture it, because of the very fact that we are borrowing against it.
If we don’t make the shift voluntarily, and we may not, IT will make us. Nature has a way of balancing herself.
Why the Shift Isn’t Happening
People who come to power in the current paradigm are least likely to see the assumptions underlying said paradigm. They are not bad people, just fish swimming in the water. They are unlikely to see that their assumptions, around which they build their lives and the systems that govern their lives, are not givens or natural laws, such as gravity, but conditions they have created. They don’t see that these created assumptions build a story. It is a story those in power, the ones who get to create the prevailing belief systems, tell themselves about the world, that results in a world about which they tell themselves that story. For the story creators to see these assumptions would be like fish seeing the water in which they swim. They don’t. It simply was, is and always will be. They know nothing else.
Why Women Can Create the Shift
Women are not currently the driving power in business. It is not our story, so we have a vantage point to see the assumptions on which the story is built. Some of us see other plausible assumptions and the stories they can create. We’d like to change things. How do I know? We asked. (Jane Perdue is my partner in seeking answers from women.) We did the research. We surveyed over 200 professional business women, most of whom work in large national or multinational corporations, to find out why they aspire to positions of power - to what end? Their top two priorities are “financial security for my family” not financial growth or riches, and “to lead change and make the world a better place.”
The Paradox of Power
It’s tricky. Women have to come into power in a system that does not reflect the way we think about or use power, and simultaneously we have to create the shift to a new way of thinking about and using power. We have to know how to push from both sides, as pictured in the broom with two handles. Then there is the question of whether we will use our power to change the game, the rules and the desired outcomes or whether we will we be co-opted along the way? The story that holds the answer to this question has yet to be told.
Here are my recommendations for creating a story we will be proud of and in which future generations will live enriched (not by dollars) lives.
1. Replace BIGGER. Make a shift.
I like fulfilling.
Is your life fulfilling?
Are you fulfilling your purpose for being here?
Are you full yet? Yes? Good, time to stop eating.
You may choose a different concept. That’s fine.
The first order of business is to understand and stay true to WHY we want power. On behalf of what are we called to lead?
What is the story you want to tell about the world you helped to create?
2. Dress ourselves up in suits of power and get in the game, but never forget the purpose for which we donned those suits.
Understand the current rules.
Once there, and that means all along the way, create the shift.
Start pushing the broom from the other side.
3. Nelson Mandela this thing.
We are not better than men.
We simply have something different to offer, and it is needed now.
We also need men and women working together to make this new paradigm work.
Without men we will simply become fish in a different pond that cannot see the water in which they swim.
Here’s a sample of what could be.
It is new story two women have already created. Enjoy.