Women And Power: How Women Can Foster A Healthy Outlook On Power & Authority

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Women and power in the corporate world have become a norm, but many still find it difficult to exert their power and authority in the workplace.

Having extensive experience with conducting leadership development programs for women, I've seen from close quarters the powerlessness of women in the corporate world.

Fortunately, I've also witnessed several of them rise and claim their power.

Personally, I've also experienced powerlessness as a woman despite being smart, educated, and capable. I've worked consistently and still do so to remain in a state of power.

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Many women, deep down, are scared of power.

They've been conditioned to prioritize relationships and family well-being over everything else. Values of being a good mother, wife, and daughter have been quite heavily and explicitly ingrained.

It's not easy to think of becoming the figurehead of a large organization without expecting to ruffle some feathers.

Many women hold subconscious fears associated with power, such as the fear of success, conflict, upsetting others, and not belonging.

This fear makes them either give away their power or not claim what's rightfully theirs.

The unspoken inner whispering goes something like, "I don't want to step on toes. I don’t want my empathy to get affected by power. I don’t want to be perceived as arrogant."

You must know that those fears are not real.

It's just a deterrent to prevent you from taking steps and actions towards things you truly want.

There are certain manifestations of female power that don't seem to violate society’s sense of norms. Specifically, these are linked to sex or beauty — the femme fatale that starts wars, or the most desirable who wields power in the service of others.

No one flinches at a mother storming into the school to demand a new lunch menu for her child’s benefit. Or a human resources lady looking out for her employees.

Isn’t it unfair to be denied the right to be selfish?

Power is a beautiful feeling.

It's many things — confidence, control, and clarity. When one experiences power not in relation to anyone else but within them, it's an ethereal experience. This inner experience of power spills over into outward successes.

Women leaders to move forward must improve their relationship with power through questioning.

What does it mean to them? Which beliefs and values clash in their ability to be in a position of power? What are they giving away by not owning it?

They have to perceive power as pure positivity; this will let them tap into their full potential. Such women can set healthy boundaries.

To this end, women must stop behaving differently in some situations, such as:

Feeling virtuous for not hurting others. For example, picking up the slack for a team member’s mistakes.
Giving away credit or limelight which belongs to them to "keep the peace."
Hesitating from disagreeing with people or confronting them.

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Women, power, and Jungian archetypes.

I often work with my clients using archetypes. Archetypes are the work of psychologist, Carl Jung.

An archetype is a characteristic or persona that is contained in the unconscious. It's part of the experience of all humans.

For example, one can clearly relate to the archetypes of a mother, lover, wise woman, and queen in a woman.

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Archetypes are present and inherent in each one of us, but we may not always recognize them. Some are specific to certain individuals, and others are universal.

History, culture, and personal context shape these representations and give them relevance and specific content.

Women leaders are often trying to become the archetype of a king instead of a queen as they climb up the ladder.

It might be because the role models have been mainly men or because men primarily design the corporate world, the natural way seems to be to become a king.

However, I encourage women to embody and explore the queen archetype instead — that causes a tremendous shift in their perception of power.

I often ask them what kind of queen they see themselves as and I get answers from Rani Lakshmi Bai to Cleopatra to Queen Elizabeth.

The kind of queen that resonates with you tells a lot about the leadership style and approach that would work the best for that lady to reach the top.

The way a queen looks at authority, responsibility, and influence is different from the way a king views it, isn't it?

When you discover how to step into your power, you become more emotionally mature, stronger, independent, balanced, and a better leader.

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Bhavna Dalal is a master certified executive coach MCC ICF, speaker, and author of "Checkmate Office Politics" who helps people develop their leadership skills, such as executive presence, strategic thinking, influencing, and networking. To learn more about her work, visit her website or follow her on LinkedIn.