Many women I work with have a love-hate relationship with power. They want to be powerful, but the definition of power in their heads leaves a bad taste in their mouths. For many women, power conjures up pictures of a hierarchic, dominating, aggressive, “my way or the highway” person. So, without even realizing this, many women give away their power. If you want to OWN your power, here are 10 ways to do that.
Women often try to fulfill what they believe is society’s version of an acceptable type of power for women, which is much nicer, much more accomodating. Or they emulate the type of power associated with the men leaders they see. This leads to what Catalyst calls The Goldilocks Syndrome. Women find themselves in situations where they are perceived as either “too hard” or “too soft”, but never just right for that top job.
The interesting thing is that power is not just something that is bestowed from the outside. It is something that is developed from within, and when others recognize you as having personal power, the external power comes to you. The good news is that how powerful we are and feel is 100% in our control.
Here are the 10 ways to BE more powerful.
1) Get clear on what YOU want first – So many women are conditioned to pay attention to what others want, they forget to think about what they want. Getting clarity FIRST on what you want is critical. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really important to understand what others want in order to collaborate with them, but put THEIR needs in the context of YOUR objectives. YOU want the promotion, so what are the needs of others in order for you to get the corner office.
2) Get Clear on Your Value – So many women don’t take the time to get really clear on the unique value they bring. Get to know yourself really well. Get clear on what your personal brand is and what value you bring to your organization. What are your unique skill sets? Strengths? You have to feel your value in your bones before you can confidently express it. How well do you feel and express your value?
3) Ask and Ye Shall Receive – “Women Don’t Ask” is a great book, but let’s turn that into an untruth. I was with a very powerful woman the other day. She was positively glowing with power. I asked her for her secret. She said she had found a way to nurture relationships with people and then just get comfortable asking for what she wanted. Early in her career she wanted a 20 hour/week job to take care of family. She knew her value, stuck to her guns, and was able to get the job she wanted in 2 weeks. Saying “No” to what’s not right for you, creates many powerful opportunities for you.
4) Express Your Point of View – Every time you leave something that you feel strongly about unsaid, you take away your own power. You listen to the critical voice inside that says, “that wasn’t that important anyway”, “maybe that’s a stupid idea”, “I’ll let someone else say it first”. The more you listen to that voice, the louder it gets. As Hala Moddelmog, President of Arby’s Restaurant Group says “Diversity of thinking adds value”. See her video here.
5) Share Your Power – Sharing power does not make you less powerful. Listening and acknowledging the strengths in others, helping and promoting others, advocating for others you believe in, makes you more powerful. It’s a natural strength in many women who tend to have a more collaborative view of the world. Collaborate with others to increase your power.
6) Listen to your Intuition – We all have an inner voice, our “inner coach” as I call her. Give yourself the quiet time to listen to your intuition. Stop “Doing” for at least10 minutes each day and start just “Being”. We’re called human beings and not human doings for a reason. Listening to your intuition will tell you what’s really important to YOU. It will lead you to a path of greater authenticity. It will give you clarity on what you really want and it will give you greater confidence.
7) Pursue Your Passion – Make sure you carve out time to do what makes you feel joyful and important. Figure out what your passions are and invite them into your life. When you focus on your joy, it makes you feel more powerful. As one of the most powerful women in business says “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” That would be Oprah.
8) Pay Attention to Your Body – Do you feel powerful in your body? The mind, body, and your feelings and emotions are all deeply connected. What are you doing to nurture your body to be more powerful? Eat the foods and get the exercise that makes you feel more powerful.
9) Pay Attention to Your Energy – Make a list of what energizes you and what de-energizes you. This could be related to your work, the foods you eat, the people you are around. Then spend more of your time with what energizes you and less on the other. You’ll be surprised at how much more powerful you will feel.
10) Dump the Inner Critic and Hire the Inner Coach – Our thoughts and emotions have an incredible ability to either give us power or take our power away. Every time you compare yourself to others, you give your power away. Start to watch your thoughts and emotions almost like an outsider and then focus on the ones that give you more power. Starting a mindfulness or journaling practice is a great way to start.
Pick at least 1 practice that you’ve decided to do today and for the next 21 days to give you more power.
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This article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, and consultant. She works with women to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Nestle, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam