ENOUGH!! Mixed Messages from Female Leaders

I was watching a couple of 60 minutes articles the other day, one was of Twitter creator, Jack Dorsey. On one hand I was thinking – how forward thinking of Mr. Dorsey to not have an office making himself available. Also, how ironic, it took for him to create his company to understand the importance of communicating with his family – even if it’s only 140 characters. As a male leader he seem to have a firm grip on his business and personal direction.

On the other hand I was watching Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, thinking – how confusing. She would say she leaves at 5:30 pm and she had to become comfortable with that. She would say family and picking the right partnership is an integral part in personal success, but then she would turn to say she thought women were doing themselves a disservice by not being aggressive enough in business. Then in the same interview she was having a conversation about the outside interpretation of mentorship between male and female peers on a business trip. W-h-a-t?! I’m confused, so are you comfortable with your position as a leader and a role model for women and young girls – or are you not? Why are you seeking external approval?

While I think both these people are inspiring in their personal success, I learned a valuable lesson about why we, as women, can’t seem to deliver a clear message about leadership to the current generation of daughters.  The major lesson: Male role models do not discuss or seek approval for, in any fashion, their personal lives. Women role models still seem to feel they need to “make it ok” to have a personal life.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Women, in a future where we have a real opportunity to make a difference, take a cue from men – it’s o.k. to have a personal life – you don’t have to have permission to be successful –  you don’t need to discuss it. It’s still as if women are apologizing for living a full life and in turn choosing to run their own companies. Really? In an age where marijuana is legalized, marrying the partner of your choice is finally coming around and the gender neutral language bill is up for consideration? We’ve come so far as a society – why do women still have to seek acceptance and drag us back into the biblical age?

I think we’ve moved past Corinthians and we don’t have to remain silent any longer, or seek our husbands permission. No, ladies, you’ve gone past that and now you’re seeking the world’s permission. Just by verbalizing that’s it’s OK to leave at 5:30pm you’re seeking permission from the world for you to not feel guilty about having a life. I don’t see male leaders doing that, do you?

Here’s another thing lady leaders, while we may not all be able to afford a staff to help take care of the illness of kids or the carpool lane – guess what? The leaders of a business already know this, and they make the necessary allowances for it without giving it a second thought. Men are problem solvers – if you have a sick kid, you go home take care of the sick kid, work from home and come back when the kid is better. This is how a male thinks – if you think he thinks anything other than problem vs. solution then you fail to understand the successful male. Take a cue, if your working in a place that makes you feel as though you have to apologize for a sick kid, while your working from home making up that time – then your on the wrong path – look for a new one.

Women leaders, if you need it – maybe this will make it better: STOP apologizing – it’s O.K. to have a personal life AND be über successful. Just please, for the betterment of women and daughters everywhere, STOP explaining and apologizing for it. If you need a little help take a cue from Nike and don’t second guess or overthink –  “Just Do It.”

Enough roaring and then apologizing for having a life. Enough shaking your fists in the air in support of women’s lib and then apologizing for leaving at 5:30. Enough saying you deserve better pay, but having to have a partner tell you to renegotiate your contract. Enough ruffling feathers to be successful and apologizing on the way up. Enough.

Young girls everywhere are watching you. They will do as you do, they will lead as you lead, they will follow as you follow. If you want them to lead, then be a leader and understand:

You.Are.Enough.

**********

I just shook my head after digesting all this information. I understand better the difference of men and women leaders. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with women who I look up to and trust their opinions about the message society has been passing out to women, mothers and daughters lately. It’s to say the least confusing if you were only to look at it superficially and not understand your own personal values.

As a parent and a woman raising daughters I have always towed the line of equal treatment for all people regardless of anything that makes them different from you – no matter what you always treat others with love and kindness, the way you would want to be treated. Always behave like a lady and say what you want – don’t speak softly and put yourself second – always speak up, without aggression, to protect yourself and others. State what you want, but don’t be rude. Be truthful and live in a way that you feel good about – so that when you look back on your life you know you’ve lived it in peace, equality and love; and the success you gained wasn’t because you apologized for it, it was because you deserved it.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

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