Longtime activist Gloria Feldt encourages women to embrace their power and take the lead in business and in politics. She became obsessed with the subject, when she was asked to write an article for Ellemagazine in 2008. She thought it would be a puff piece about women running for office (since our first woman U.S. president was possible at the time), but the opposite was true. Women were not stepping up to lead. There were many organizations spending millions of dollars to help them run for office but women weren’t accepting the challenge.
Gloria blames the culture that raises women to be nice girls who want to be liked above all else. This causes women to play it safe and not risk jumping into the leadership arena the way men do. This applies not only to running for Congress, but also for climbing the corporate ladder to the C-suite.
Why Do Women Fear Power?
Gloria wrote No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power to give women the power tools they need to change the way they think about power. Women are ambivalent about power, and for good reason. They have been raped and abused and this has caused them to think in terms of power over rather than power to. She compares power to a hammer. You can use a hammer to build something or to break something apart. If you use power ethically and to make the world a better place, why not embrace it? She says that when women perceivepower as a tool to do something good, they gladly assume leadership roles.
Organization to Help Women Become Leaders
A self-proclaimed practical activist, Gloria says, “I want to fix things.” This is actually a feminine trait. Women are very good at fixing things. One of the things Gloria wants to fix is the lack of women leaders. She co-founded Take the Lead Women to help women reach parity by 2025. The website has many workshops, opportunities for digital networking and more. It’s a community of women helping one another to step into leadership roles.
Power Tools for Empowering Yourself
In this conversation, Gloria shares one of her power tools: Using your “sister courage” to create a movement and empower one another. As one of the 20 authors in Leading Women she explains another power tool: “Define your own terms first, before someone else defines you.”
More on Take the Lead and Leading Women
If you missed it, Gloria and Dr. Nancy want you to check out the Take the Lead Women launch, the inspiring event, which Dr. Nancy and 3,000 other people attended and over one million internationally watched on live streaming video. You can see it in its entirety with presentations by Sheryl Sandberg, Carla Harris and many other inspiring women leaders on taketheleadwomen.com.
Be sure to check out Gloria’s website for more of her wisdom and advice and order your copy of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life for more insights from Gloria and 19 other amazing women authors.
This interview is full of women empowering advice from Gloria, who went from being a teen mom at 15 to become the President of the National Planned Parenthood Federation, where she served for 30 years. Her motto, “Just say yes.” Listen for much more.