When you are the marginalized voice in a male-dominated society, it’s tempting to try to find your voice⎯and be heard⎯by adapting to the culture around you. And yes, this can be an important first step in finding a way to access your power and climb the ladder.
But it comes at a price. In simply adapting, you end up further marginalizing the qualities that are traditionally regarded as ‘female’ and therefore seen (in a male-dominated world) as ‘weak’ or ‘inferior.’
My main work with women in leadership positions has been around helping them to find their voice and power by getting behind their differences, not being against them. An important piece of this work is starting to recognize how bringing in the very qualities that are often marginalized in the workplace isn’t just an endeavor by and for women. It is about creating a sustainable culture that benefits everyone, women as well as men.
Once you truly get behind your difference and learn how to work with and transform your inner critic; once you learn to stand up for your difference in a congruent way while at the same time also valuing what your male colleagues are bringing to the table, then you can truly transform the leadership culture in organizations.