Right now, it’s a great time to be a woman. We are making huge strides in the business world, attaining more college degrees than men, and in several countries, we even hold the nation’s highest office. We need to celebrate women’s accomplisments and the distance we have traveled.
While women still face challenges, such as continuing to earn less than men, we’re gaining momentum, and our power and influence are set to explode. It was that belief that led me to bring together 20 nationally acclaimed women to share their advice for breaking free of traditional limitations and claiming their proper place in the world. Together, we wrote Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life.
In the past, some women have allowed low self-esteem and fear to hold them in place. Others have been intimidated by media portrayals of women who “have it all” and felt that they could never measure up. Those women were stuck and were not making the amazing connections with other women they met along the way. Women in those situations saw other women not as role models or sponsors, but instead as obstacles, or as out of reach. Those days are over. Today, more and more women are realizing that connection and collaboration, not competition, are the answer. As a result, the women-helping-women movement is gaining ground, and I’m confident that it will continue to propel us to even greater heights.
Women are agents of change and have consistently stretched themselves to become skilled fund-raisers, passionate advocates, powerful leaders, dedicated volunteers, tireless workers, and persuasive forces for social change. We have the natural skills needed to compete in a global economy that values collaboration and innovation, and now that we’re figuring out how to work together, we’re going to be unstoppable.
As the world grows more complex and connected, there is a growing need for skills such as relational intelligence, emotional intelligence, inclusion, and empathy. By employing these skills, which many consider “feminine skills,” women are redefining the use of power and the meaning of leadership. In order to do that effectively, one of the book’s contributors, Birute Regine, urges women, “Be clear about the skills you have to offer. Embrace them. They define a new kind of leadership, a more collaborative, interactive leadership.”
Meeting people and making connections is one thing; collaborating with them is another. That should be the goal, because there’s an amazing synergy that comes into play when we join forces and work with others. Collaboration can stimulate creativity, engagement, and innovation, so it just makes sense to collaborate with our sisters whenever we can.
Connections matter, and making our voices heard and using our power are things we can do together. It is through a foundation of strong connections that we can gain the confidence and skills we need to overcome barriers and reach our goals. With each and every connection and collaborative experience, the women-helping-women movement will make a difference and ultimately change the world. DW
Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly is a clinical psychologist, motivational speaker, women empowerment expert, and the author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life, available at DrNancyOReilly.com