“When I was growing up, my father used to tell us ‘Never Eliminate Youself’”, says Anne Doyle (@annedoyleldr), author of POWERING UP! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders, a global speaker, media strategist, elected government official and a @forbeswoman columnist.
Anne is an extraordinary woman and human being who paved the way for women of our and future generations. We have a lot to thank her and her sisters for who ventured into territories in the 60’s and 70’s no women had gone before.
She was one of the very first female TV sports broadcasters in the US, hired in 1978 by CBS TV in Detroit, and played a leadership role in opening sports locker rooms to credentialed women reporters. She later served as an executive in the auto industry, was elected to serve on her local City Council and has been asked by the U.S. State Department to speak on leadership in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Trinidad and Tobago, and Spain.
I read her book from cover to cover and I’m thrilled that she shared her journey into leadership with me. POWERING UP! is full of touching stories and words for any aspiring leader and I couldn’t do justice to capture them all in a blog. But what I aim to share with you here is some lessons Anne and her high-powered leader friends learned along the way, and lessons we, current and future female achievers ought to embrace if we want to become leaders.
1. Awaken your inner fire
A personal tragedy lit Anne’s fire when she was 25. At the young age of 22, her sister, Mary took her own life before she discovered her unique gift. “I always knew that Mary was the fire in my belly. Any time I felt alone or discouraged, she was with me to get me through. Any time somebody said no, I said yes. That was my way of giving back and doing what I could to help other girls and women see their value, power and potential.” Then she added, “You don’t need to experience a personal tragedy to awaken that fire. It can come from passion or joy.”
2. Find a purpose bigger than yourself
Anne and other women fighting for their rights in the 60’s and 70’s were very clear on one thing: they had a higher purpose, something much bigger than them. They had the drive, desire and hunger to snowball and see through large-scale changes in society. They stood together and found strength and comfort in each other.Find a purpose bigger than yourself. Click To Tweet
3. Grow our collective power
“Every woman for herself is a losing strategy.” These words will always stay with me. “We need to change our focus from “me” to “we”. With 51%* of the US population as women, females are now the majority. We are yet to realize our collective power, and to do so, we need to support and help each other“, says Anne.
4. Believe you can do it
Supporting one another starts with believing that we can be leaders. “I spoke with many women of different generations when I was writing my book. And what I learned stopped me in my tracks. The biggest obstacles for women are still courage and confidence. Most women don’t believe in themselves and they don’t believe in other women.” My heart sank as Anne uttered these words. We need to believe in ourselves and in other women. Until that happens, we can only scratch the surface of our collective power.
5. Invite yourself to the Leadership Dance
“My generation came of age with the hope and possibility that our mothers and grandmothers were legally stopped from doing. It was one thing to change the laws, but just because now we had the right, we still had to fight for the opportunity. It was as if someone had opened the door and now we had to run through it.”
And we continue to have to run through that door. If you really want something, you’ll have to put yourself on the map, you’ll have to make yourself noticed and take risks. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to the leadership dance.
6. Build a network
The number of women leaders has come a long way but there’s still a long road ahead of us. It is evident that it takes both men and women for progress to happen. Form strong bonds with your sisters and connect with men to be your allies and mentors.
Today, fathers are raising daughters to be whatever they dream to be and supporting them as they join the workforce. Danica Patrick, racecar driver, says it brilliantly: “I wasn’t raised to be the fastest girl. I was raised to be the fastest driver.”
Thank you, Anne and your fellow pioneers for paving the way for us and giving us the tools to carry on with this journey. As you pointed out, each of us has a part to play. Whether it’s supporting other women, becoming our strongest and fullest self, or influencing the thinking of our children and that of the men in our lives, we have the power to affect change.
*Source: The World Bank
Image by lilieks, freeimages.com