Let's talk about masks today.
But hold on, I'm not referring to the cute Halloween ones. No, I'm diving into a different kind of mask—the metaphorical ones that women leaders often find themselves wearing.
I work with a lot of women leaders who are brilliant, compassionate, and exceptional leaders, but their true potential often goes unnoticed or is misunderstood.
It's bananas, isn't it? In the 21st century, we still face these stereotypes and biases.
Women in leadership positions often struggle to be seen as capable leaders. They are sometimes regarded as too soft, not fit to lead a team of men, or as someone who can't juggle leadership and motherhood. Bah! It drives me nuts.
And when we bring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) women into the picture, things get even worse with an additional layer of bias. My clients share a fear of being seen as “too much…” or “not enough...” and the constant risk of not being liked or, worse, having their ideas dismissed or their careers sidelined.
So, what do many women do with these pressures and expectations? Put on metaphorical masks to be heard and respected.
These masks come in all kinds of forms – toughness, masculinity, conforming to a white standard, or excessive agreeability. It sucks a little bit of life out of them, and it feels like strategy to navigate a world that often refuses to accept them for who they truly are.
What we really need is for women leaders to shed the mask. Easily said, I totally get it. I know that in reality it’s downright exhausting and can feel risky. But it's also essential.
Our companies, our education systems, our world, need women who show up as themselves, with their full authenticity on display. We need you, with all your incredible ideas, with all your uniqueness, beauty, ethnicity, background, and lived experiences.
We need the real you, without the mask.
But, I’m not saying that you need to shed the mask alone. One of the best things EVER is feeling understood and supported by someone who gets it.
Reach out to women leaders you know or find opportunities to meet women leaders from various industries. One of my good friends is a restauranteur. My industry and hers are worlds apart, but we can still support each other as women leaders.
Live your big life. Show up as you. And lead like the brilliant badass you are.
PS: Time is running out to join the Portland Fireside retreat for coaches. Picture heading home in a few weeks saying, “that was ah-mazing!” You’ll also take home more clarity, confidence, and the joy of community. Join now!