Powerful women, you are a movement unto yourself.

Issue 137 — August 3, 2020

What do you think of when you think of a movement?

Picket signs? Pink hats? People marching and yelling? #BlackLivesMatter?Social justice perhaps?

Photo from Business Insider.

It’s certainly true that we tend to think of movements as being about causes, because they often are causes that people feel strongly about.

Well what if the cause you feel strongly about is YOU?

What if I told you that you can apply the same basic principles that are used to build social movements to yourself and your career?

Movement Building, Career Building: What’s the Same and What’s Not?

You know you can employ the same three actions that I teach in my 7th Leadership Power Tool, “Create a movement,” to accomplish anything or change anything, including building a movement around yourself to advance your career.

You can apply movement building principles to any area of life, actually. Here are the basics. Those principles can be summed up as #SisterCourage, and they have three parts or aspects:

1. Be a sister. Reach out and ask for help when you need it. Give help when someone else needs it. Find the people who share your values or concerns and who value you.

2. Have the courage to raise issues that need to be discussed.

3. Put the two together with a strategy to take action and you have a movement.

Where do you need to create a movement in your life?

Have you established support networks? And how can you apply the principles of movement building into your day-to-day life in a way that prepares and positions you to get that job or client or promotion or investment you want?

There’s an often-overlooked nexus between individual courage and the courage and power of women and like-minded men — I call them brother partners — working together to achieve goals.

Now if you are reticent about advocating for yourself, or for being intentional about building your movement, reflect on the fact that every other group works together to advance its own interests. Yet women have been much slower to grant ourselves the privilege of worthiness to put our interests first. And if we are to continue our progress towards equality and parity in leadership or in whatever profession you are in, we must commit ourselves to think and act intentionally with #SisterCourage.

The movement building process needs clarity of vision first. What is your goal or “why.” What are the various components and tasks? What strengths do you have, and how can those strengths be utilized to pull everything together.

But once you have that clarity of vision and you know what you want, to make it happen, you’ll need to use those three aspects of movement building: be a sister, have courage, and put the three together with a strategy for action.

These words are carefully chosen.

I say Sister because individual women who want — and deserve — the chance to thrive must act like sisters. We must share experiences and support one another because we are women, and because it is in our best interests as unique individuals and as members of a group to do so.

Don’t isolate yourself or think that you have to do it all yourself. Reach out to ask for help when you need it, and offer help when you see someone else needs it. As recent research has confirmed, there is power in the pack. Women who support other women are more successful all around. Seventy-five percent of highly successful women say they have a circle of female friends around them.

We all need our girl gang, coven, network, sisters, our mentors and sponsors. Don’t be afraid to ask for them. And give freely of your support in return.

Consider creating a trusted kitchen cabinet to advise you informally. Consider joining a mastermind group of like minded women in your field who can build confidence and help each other problem solve.

Remain open to the benefits of working together with others who share your values and intentions, even if not all your methods or opinions. Think expansively about the power of the infinite pie. Abundant resources exist if we have the insights to recognize them. Sometimes women believe inaccurately that if they give away information or make introductions that this will reduce their power, when in reality that generosity attracts power. It attracts good will.

So be a sister. You’ll be building a cushion of support around you and its energy will help to propel you forward even when you aren’t so sure of yourself.

I say Courage because making change always takes courage, even if that change is in yourself. Even if it is a change that will challenge your skills and you aren’t sure you are able to do it. Growing your career requires setting seriously big goals and going for them by making the business case in a forthright, courageous, and persistent manner.

Speaking up takes courage. The courage to raise the issues that need to be addressed. To use the power of your voice to overcome the pushback from those who say it can’t be done, or those whose best interest lies in your not being able to do it.

If you’re looking to garner a position that has usually gone to men if you are a woman or if there has never been a Black woman in that role to which you aspire, it will take courage to put yourself forward. When we talk about women and people of color having an equal chance, we’re talking about the most profound power shift towards equal justice in the history of humanity. You are part of a movement when you want to build your career whether you know it or now

We grow courage muscles by using them. So practice intentionally doing at least one thing every day that scares the hell out of you. And you’re sure to lose the fear and grow those muscles faster if you work with your sisters.

And remember, if you are leading a team or a company, people follow people who have a point of view, who have the courage of their convictions.

Finally, I say Sister Courage — putting the two words together — because by working together, we become bigger and stronger than the sum of the parts.

Once you are clear on your own goals and have found your sisters who share those goals, you can go forward together with clarity about where you both or all benefit, and clarity about where your paths may diverge. We each bring something unique to the party. And while I’m not suggesting that every act is selfishly transactional, it’s nevertheless only fair that we get something we need from our efforts to contribute to the larger whole.

Create your strategic action steps.

What destination do want to reach? What problem to solve? What resources do you need and where will you find them? Gather your facts to support your intentions. Assess your relationships and nurture those that can help you ascend to the position you want. Bring others into your story so that this movement you’ve been building around yourself will continue as you achieve your goals.

This process works for political campaigns, putting on a play or movie, being on the team of people in your company that accomplishes what others say is impossible.

Together we are bigger and stronger than the sum of our parts. That’s the essence of creating a movement.

So be a sister. Have courage. And put the two together into a strategic plan to act with sister courage to achieve your goals.

What are some examples of times you have used these movement building principles to lead effectively?

P.S. Here’s my podcast discussing some of these questions. Please share it and this article with anyone whom you think they might help. Listen, subscribe, and let me know how it goes for you.

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.

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