- the action of leading a group of people or an organization
- the state or position of being a leader
I have always looked up to powerful, disruptive women in the world as role models. Oprah. Melinda Gates. Beyoncé. Regardless of your personal thoughts on them, there is no doubt that these women are influential leaders in their area of expertise.
Even if they’re not nationally recognized, women in corporate leadership positions are easy to spot. They’re poster children of what society tells us female leaders should be: Power suit, sass-itude, and some sort of headship title.
I would venture to say that a lot of us here fall into this category. (I know I definitely do.) But let me ask you this: What about that description makes them a leader? Is it their coiffed appearance, all the way down to their clicking stilettos? Anyone can buy some smart shoes. Or maybe it’s that lovely acronym indicating they head up their organization? Not quite. I can put whatever title on my LinkedIn as I choose. Then what is it, exactly?
Let’s take a look at a couple of other examples of women out there: A stay at home mother. A manager of a retail store. A sponsor for the local chapter of Girl Scouts.
Other than sex, what do all of these examples have in common? I’ll give you a hint – the answer starts with an “L.”
My mom has always made a distinction as “jewel toned people” and “earth toned people” which was a concept I never really understood. I was under the “jewel toned” category: big dreams, flashy clothes, strong personality. The thought of staying in my small home town never appealed to me; it was always about “making it” big time. To be incriminatingly honest, I even somewhat looked down on the ones who did stay—how could anyone possibly want that? “There must be more than this provincial life,” to quote my favorite, “Beauty and the Beast.”
As I’ve gotten older though, this idea has proven itself time and time again, especially in leadership. Although the colors are different, crayons are all made of wax. Leaders are different, but they all possess that attitude.
Leadership is not a title. Leadership is an attitude.
One of the biggest reasons I was driven towards the Women in Leadership Nexus is the idea that we support each other as women leaders, regardless of how we are leaders. What makes us so special as a species is our brilliant diversity, including what we strive for.
Try telling a mother that she’s not a leader in her household. I’d be willing to bet that her child (and spouse, too) would tell you otherwise. Being a professional doesn’t only mean your corporate status. With all of this progression, we can’t forget that all of us are fabulous in our own way. We can learn from each other, but only if we support each other. A stay at home mother works just as hard as a CEO, just in a different way. It doesn’t make her less of a leader.
Whatever your leading role is, remember that attitude is your best accessory. That shade of lipstick that makes you feel like you own the world pales in comparison to your confidence and attitude.
A Native Texan now living in the magnificent New York City, Tricia Howard is an artist gone rogue who ended up in the wonderful world of technology. With a B.A. in Theatre Arts and interests ranging from Star Wars to Opera, she brings a unique and artistic perspective to her clients and the tech world. When she’s not solving business problems, you can find her singing, painting, and doing copious amounts of jigsaw puzzles.