January 25, 2011

Why Women Executives Lose Power and 10 Ways to Keep It

CEO Coach Henna Inam says too many women 'give away their power'

For women, even those who are running firms or organizations, or in high-powered careers of any type—take SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair or Elizabeth Warren, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; or GenSpring Family Offices CEO Maria Elena Lagomasino or Citi’s President, Personal Banking and Wealth Management, Debby McWhinney, for example, it may be surprising how much it takes to manage their relationship with their own “power.” All of these unequivocally powerful women are members of the 50 Top Women in Wealth on AdvisorOne.com

“Without even realizing this, many women give away their power,” CEO Coach Henna Inam writes, in “10 Ways to be More Powerful,” from The Glass Hammer e-newsletter. She notes that women, afraid of being stereotyped as “dictatorial,” or “aggressive,” frequently sublimate their own power, to accommodate their own view of “society’s version of an acceptable type of power for women, which is much nicer, much more accommodating.”

But Inam proposes that a woman’s power is “developed from within,” and she has 10 ways for women to bring their power out. As Inam puts it, here are the first five:

  1. “Get clear on what YOU want first…put [others’] needs in the context of YOUR objectives.”
  2. “Get Clear on Your Value…your personal brand…and what value you bring to your organization. What are your unique skill sets? Strengths? You have to feel your value in your bones before you can confidently express it.”
  3. “Ask and Ye Shall Receive…” Inam says she was with a very powerful woman the other day. She was positively glowing with power. I asked her for her secret. She said she had found a way to nurture relationships with people and then just get comfortable asking for what she wanted.”
  4. “Express Your Point of View…Every time you leave something that you feel strongly about unsaid, you take away your own power.”
  5. “Share Your Power…Sharing power does not make you less powerful. Listening and acknowledging the strengths in others, helping and promoting others, advocating for others you believe in, makes you more powerful.”

For more of Inam’s coaching and her other five ways to bring out your power, please see her article.

For those interested in attending an executive program aimed at helping women achieve more power, Harvard’s Kennedy School will hold “Women and Power: Leadership in a New World,” from May 15-20, 2011, according to The Glass Hammer website.

It will soon be time to nominate this year’s AdvisorOne/Wealth 50 Top Women in Wealth. Have a look at the current 50, and think of who you’d nominate for this year’s list, click here. Subscribe (at no cost) to Inside Wealth to know when nominations open.

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