2020 is the year it became clear that something had to change.
Politics. Business. Media.
It wasn’t working anymore.
We needed people in charge who cared about people.
Who cared about the world they were entrusting to future generations, not just the next financial quarter.
No more leaders who wanted to dominate the market and take control.
We wanted leaders who took a stand for values that mattered. Who took a critical eye to every aspect of their company and organization that didn’t meet their values.
This is the world we want to live in, and the only way to get there is to include morality alongside profit.
Making this change may be easier than we think.
It could start with something as simple as putting more women in leadership roles.
Storyteller and consultant Annette Simmons has been researching women and power for years.
In this week’s YBTV interview, she shares what she’s discovered about the way women shift corporate culture for the better.
How do men see power differently to women? How does a company change when there are more women in the boardroom? What do women leaders bring to the table? What can one person do when the systemic challenges seem so great?
What You’ll Learn
Men want to take charge rather than take care, and women will take charge in order to take care.”
Annette Simmons asked women and men to tell her about a time they felt powerful.
As she listened to their stories, she noticed a pattern emerging.
The men’s stories were about controlling or dominating a situation.
The women’s stories included some of that, but they also included stories about helping others, protecting something, and creating connection.
Some stories were even about “stopping a man from doing harm that he didn’t realize he was doing.”
Annette realized that these women and men had different definitions of power.
For the men, power was about dominating and controlling.
For the women, power was about doing the right thing and taking care of others.
“Yes, we want to make a profit,” Annette explains, “but we also want to take care of people. We also want to maintain relationships and stay connected. We also want to do the right thing.”
Of course these are generalizations, but there is evidence to suggest that women have a wider circle of moral concern than men.
“Women are seeing things as problems that a lot of the men in leadership aren’t seeing as problems, and that disconnect causes us to say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re not doing the right thing.'”
“Once I began to realize that we have different definitions of power,” Annette says, “that tells me everything I need to know about why men in general can want to keep women out of the boardroom.”
Women in Leadership
The moral concern is actually part of good business and good government.”
Women are slowly making inroads on corporate boardrooms, but it’s an ongoing struggle.
One factor in favor of gender-balanced boardrooms is that “more women on the board actually creates more profit over the long term,” Annette says.
But many companies take the short-term view.
They want speed. They want efficiency. They don’t see how investing in people’s wellbeing can improve their bottom line.
“They want to exploit opportunities—like that’s a good word,” Annette observes.
And it backfires on them.
“When you only focus on speed and efficiency, what you do is you drive out generosity and authenticity,” Annette says.
Companies end up with infighting, disconnection, and disengagement.
“There’s actually a business case to be made that if you want innovation, if you want collaboration, that you have to balance” both genders, Annette says.
Men and women make a great team. They each bring different perspectives to the table.
But many women aren’t interested in leadership positions. They experience moral distress, the emotional pain of being caught between doing what you’re supposed to do and doing what you know is right.
“If men want more women on their boards … then they’re going to have to change the potential for these leadership positions to achieve moral goals as well as profit goals,” Annette says.
Until then, what can women do?
Stepping Into Your Power
First of all, Annette says, trust your intuition. “You are right. You are smart. You are not making this up. This is a problem.”
Then, she says, “we start to figure out what we can do about it.”
When you’re just one person, there’s a lot you can’t control. And that’s okay. You control what you can.
From there, “it’s about coalition building, it’s about making connections, and it’s about taking care of yourself.”
Annette teaches storytelling as a way of creating change.
“Storytelling builds social trust, and we underestimate how much we need social trust in order for civilization to function,” she says.
She recommends that you start with your personal story.
Who are you? Why are you here?
“Come up with the qualities that earn you the right to be a leader in this particular situation,” she explains. “Then go back into your history and look at a time when you really shined.”
Come up with a story about a time when your integrity cost you. A story about a time you blew it. A story about a mentor who taught you. Think of a book, movie, or scene “that epitomizes how you want to be in the world.”
“Once we begin to focus on telling ourselves the story about who we are and why we’re here, we’re less susceptible to the stories other people are telling us about who we are and why we’re here,” Annette says.
As you become stronger in your story and braver in sharing that story with others, your authencity and integrity will inspire others.
And sign up to Annette’s newsletter to be the first to find out when her next book, on the stories we tell ourselves about power, will be released.
Inspired to Lead?
You might also be interested in these YBTV interviews:
- The Art of Exquisite Leadership
- Nail Your Personal Brand
- Use Storytelling to Build Your Brand and Business
Annette is a vibrant keynote speaker, consultant, and author of four books: The Story Factor (named as one of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time), Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths, and Territorial Games. Annette founded Group Process Consulting in 1996. Find out about her books, workshops, and leadership retreat.