It finally landed on me about a year ago; the issue of gender and leadership power; an issue that women have been speaking about for years, is truly a men’s issue.
Men, we are overdue, it is well past time for us to step into a different understanding of ourselves as males, leaders and change agents. This is the time to change our involvement in the power conversation.
The conversation will change if we are open to make a shift from ‘us vs them’ to ‘all of us together’.
There have been three types of responses when I have raised this point with men:
· ‘I am pretty sure that I am open and that women trust me to hear about their stories’
· ‘I have never thought about it that way’
When I raise the point with women I hear ‘Yes, lets talk about it’.
What is different now?
We are hearing numerous stories of women who have been victims of male power: stories of the expectation of sexual favours and sexual assault have emerged significantly. Perhaps it is the reality of the Old Boy’s Club that blocks us from hearing these stories before now.
To continue to address this issue with our old ways of thinking means that we miss the opportunity to make a difference wherever we are: as partners, parents, grandparents, community or business leaders.
It is time for men to step-up, own our leadership accountability; to be a part of the change.
Here are a few thoughts and questions, that I am asking myself and now I ask you. These have been gleaned from listening to and reading the stories of women and men on this issue:
Listening changes everything. Perhaps the most prevalent experience that I have heard in the stories of women is that they when they tell their abuse stories, they do not feel heard by male leaders. Ways that this has shown-up include minimizing the story, blaming the victim and defensive reactions. These disempowering responses make the situation worse and demonstrate the essence of the change that will make a difference.
· Men, what do you hear when you listen? What threatens you?
Collaboration is powerful. Collaboration is all about working together in an environment of safety, fairness, shared accountability, mutual learning, listening and recognition of the contributions of others.
· Men, how can you lead collaboration to create opportunity for more voices to be heard?
· What do we do to create safe work environments where the cultural norms are openness and support?
Women want men to ‘stand with’ them. This is the nugget of ‘allyship’. The privilege of becoming an Ally is by invitation only. It is all about supporting women as they speak out; about the courage to challenge our peers to listen and ask different questions.
· Men, when you are in a group of men and someone makes a chauvinistic joke or sexualized comment, what do you do?
Allyship, listening and collaboration can develop a common understanding and focus on a new way to be together. It is being an advocate for change from within.
This is an era of great change, an opportunity to lead with a difference. Embracing the courage to explore and act on what we discover is a way to become more inclusive and effective leaders.
Men, when we own our responsibility and a new way of leading, we can be part of the way forward.
I want to discuss this with you. Let me know how we can connect.
Author of Coaching From the Inside Out: A personal approach to coaching for change. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon, Indigo and at https://www.brianduggancoach.com/coaching-from-the-inside-out