We always hear about this concept called inclusion. Inclusion of women in top leadership positions, board rooms and breaking the glass ceiling and the like. I was wondering, if leadership only confines to board rooms and top corporate positions. If this is the case, then why we don't find women in these positions much?! Data says that there are very few women in these positions. It's not because women are incapable or any less than their men counterparts but because women choose to have different priorities after a given point in time. This is not a generalized statement but for most of the women who take a break after escalating to a certain point in their career is not because they aren't serious about their work/career; not because they couldn't cut through the glass ceiling; not that she is less a leader to lead her way up the ladder but because she chooses to cater to a different leadership role which many still don't understand and acknowledge. That leadership is still looked down upon & taken for granted; many a times not valued at all. Perception and conditioning problem!
For many, having a great career is all that they aspire for and prioritize. But for others, they want a balanced life having it all: a fulfilling career, loving relationships, happy & responsible kid/kids; nurturing me-time and above all meaningful contribution to life. What's the joy in getting promoted to the board-room and the top leadership position when your loved ones are waiting for you to spend some time with you, when your child needs no one else but your presence to experience a joyous moment in life & many more? It is so easy to scale up the corporate ladder when you don't have to pay attention to anything else but your sole career and your role! But when you consciously give up something that you love, to cater to other things that equally demands your attention, is to me leadership. I am not here talking about sacrifice and all; but a choice to choose from many options available: be just a professional leader or be a holistic leader who manages things not only at the work front but at the home front too.
Today because this choice is so hard to make, we see so many problems at the personal front. Broken relationships, difficult to handle kids, no meaningful existence etc. The child counselors and adolescent coaches are on the rise now-a-days, relationship coaches are on the rise. We are creating and leading in the professional world but remember that it is the women leaders at the back-burner who is doing a fantastic job at the backstage because of which the leadership at the board-room and at the top positions are possible. If we really want to talk about inclusion, let's first ask the woman what she wants and what will really make her happy: a board-room inclusion or an inclusion in your mindset that only defines leadership in a particular way and discards every other? Leadership to me is going beyond self and contributing towards the betterment not only of a particular segment that you are leading but also paving the way for a matured, meaningful and joyful world.
While I was at Mumbai, I took a woman driver cab from airport to my place of stay. I got to know so many things from her during my brief stint with her. She drives to take care of her family, she has an ailing husband who lost his job and is at home for the past six months or so; a child who goes to school and an old mother-in-law. She takes care of everyone in her family and is the sole bread-earner now. To me she is a woman leader in her own great capacity. I booked her cab again while driving back to the airport somewhere at 4:30 am. She was there and I felt so safe with her. That was Mumbai which is a safe place for women. But still the big question that leaves me pondering is: Are we living in an inclusive society? Most important of all, do we have an inclusive mindset? Can we think beyond the leadership titles, board-rooms and stereotype leadership roles or can we open our minds to new possibilities? Once you choose to look at women leadership from an absolute new angle, you will find many women leaders who have been facilitating your growth, your journey and your aspirations. They are burning like the candle, consuming themselves to light up their loved one's world. Leadership is not about power but your ability to empower others. So, who is a true leader then? One who just leads or one who empowers you to be able to lead in the world? If you still can't find any, then probably you need to look deep down and ask yourself: What is the mindset that you have? What is the opinion you have about women leadership? What is the judgement that you have made about them? Only then you are deemed fit to sit and decide the future of women including their inclusion in board-rooms and top leadership position.
Let's redefine women leadership. Particularly in today's world where the entire dynamics of work and culture is changing, it is important to change our mindsets first and redefine our assumptions around women leadership. She is more than what is mostly thought about her.
P.S. I am not a feminist but I always try to portray in my writings what I see and experience generally.
Love & light,
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals