Be a woman of power

Read our research about women and the paradox of power.

Women in business face a potent cocktail of cultural, organizational, and personal impediments that stand between them and top management positions. Power is a key ingredient in that cocktail.

We define power as the capacity to bring about change. It's access to resources combined with the authority to decide to what end those resources will be used. It's only in how one chooses to use power that it becomes positive or negative.

What Research Showed Us

The relationship women in business have with power is complex. It's a rich and robust interplay of psychological, cognitive, and cultural factors.

  • For many business women, it's their relationship with personal power that holds them back, be it lack of confidence, societal conditioning, or simply not understanding power in all its depth and positive possibility.
  • For the women in business who comprehend and practice personal and positional power, their struggle with it is external - a sometimes covert, sometimes overt, power play with legacy organizational practices, stereotypes, and paradigms.

Based on research conducted by Jane Perdue of Braithwaite Innovation Group and Germane Consulting, the key to higher numbers of women in top management positions — and the improved bottom line performance it produces — requires the participation of both women and current company leadership, particularly CEOs. To increase the presence of women in senior executive positions, two things must happen:

  1. Business women embrace and use power in their own positive, authentic and collaborative style, and
  2. The definitions, practices and stories of leadership are rewoven so "power over" is no longer the default operating mode within the organization.

Complicating matters is the fact that to transform business culture, practices, stereotypes, and paradigms, women must gain power in a system that is at odds with they way they are. This is what we call the paradox of power.

What Women Must Do

To earn more senior level positions, Jane and Anne offer a distinctive — and learnable — mix of five knowledge and skill elements — matters of both the heart and mind — for women to master for stepping up and into power:

  1. Show up. Stand up. Voice Up
  2. Ditch Cinderella
  3. Forge strategic connections
  4. Unstick your thinking
  5. Know power. Be powerful

What Corporations Must Do

Transforming business culture requires corporate leaders to be part of the solution. We offer three vital practices for companies to catalyze change, close the gender gap, and stop leaving money on the table.

  1. Make gender balance a real priority
  2. Redefine leadership
  3. Walk the talk by developing women leaders

Business requires inclusive thinking to progress and innovate in today's complex, fast-paced global environment. More women in key roles won't happen because women start thinking like men or men begin behaving like women. It will happen, however, when bold, audacious women and CEOs make it a business imperative to do so.

Ready to step up and into your personal and positional power?

If so, we're excited to share what we've learned and equip more women to step up and into power. Download our research report, Women and The Paradox of Power, 8 Keys for Transforming Business Culture to learn more about transforming yourself as well as business culture.

Women and The Paradox of Power
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