Inner wisdom: leadership strategies for high-performance women (Part 3)
Everyone has a part of their psychology intimately interested in knowing, understanding and transforming. This part of our psychology can simplistically be broken into 2 domains: the part that questions/tears down and the part that transforms and creates anew. The questioning part of us is continually seeking to understand and know the WHY of events, forces and people around us. This part of us has to know who dunnit, has to solve the sudoku, has to understand the intricate details of why someone did something, thought something, felt something. In women, when we consider this part of the psychology in light of emotional intelligence, we can see why women are so much more capable and interested in understanding dynamics between people, relationships, interpersonal power and politics.
For Executive / Personal Assistants, this is a real strength and asset in terms of role, career and leadership potential. Women are generally much better at picking up on the subtle nuances that go on in meetings. Despite the improvement in numbers of women in executive positions, most organisations typically have a higher proportion of men at the top and most of these men have female assistants. What this means is that Executive / Personal Assistants are sitting in meetings where the majority of participants are men, who are not as skilled as women in noticing what’s going on for people and with people. This is where female EA/PAs can provide enormous value and where female executives can wield enormous influence.
The challenge for EA/PAs is that they are also aligned to the power of their boss. So you can see a real tension here. Personal power is about things being the right way and exercising power to create order. Knowing is about questioning and about picking up on fine distinctions, which can lead to the eroding of power. This part of our psychology also seeks to make make light of serious matters, to joke, to destroy the illusion of things have to be a certain way. Sometimes, bringing lightness to events is a great strategy. All of us at some time or another get caught up in things; we place too much seriousness and weight and importance on things and people being a certain way. This part of our psychology frees us from this rigidity and allows us to relax and be more open and flexible to what may be possible.
This brings us to the second part of this area of our psychology: the part that transforms and creates things anew. To erode power and bring down the illusion that things must be a certain way doesn’t help us because we need to create a new way. For example, revolution does not work if it only brings down the government of the day. It must put in place a new government that creates a new way of life. Similarly, this part of our psychology is interested in re-arranging the pieces, in creating something new and different, in transforming the old way into the new way.
For EA/PAs this is about using your inner wisdom, your intuition and your ability to pick up on fine distinctions and creating new possibilities. It is about questioning the right way in order to come up with a better way. It is about not getting too serious about things being a certain way. It’s about innovation, about considering what could you change if you had the power to, and of course, you do have the power to make and influence change. Don’t forget, you have personal power as well. In terms of leading self, the most important thing to remember is to trust your inner wisdom: really trust and believe in what you know, what you think, what you feel in your gut. Trust that you can find the truth for yourself and for others.
In terms of leading others, this is about using your inner wisdom to guide and transform others so that they can realise their potential. Sometimes this about guiding your boss. Sometimes this is about guiding your team, your people and your family: trusting in what you know and supporting others to discover their own truths, their own way of understanding and making sense of the world. Remember, your way is not their way. There is no one way. And mostly, don’t forget: lighten up!