In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes, “Our stereotype of men holds they are providers, decisive, and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive, and communal. This is the stark choice women are usually given in the workplace.”
Traditionally, we’re expected to constantly manipulate, control, and obsess over every move we make — in order to appease others and appear likable. This undermines the respect we hold, and causes us to be less effective in our roles. That’s when we’re told that taking on more masculine qualities is the key to success. But suppressing our nurturing instincts often makes us come across as pushy, aggressive, bitchy. Who wants the equal opportunity to be an asshole? Not me.
We’ve earned the right to embrace a new conversation; we’ve earned the right to move beyond the rituals that encourage us to choose between being liked and being respected. We’ve earned the right to lead with love.
So how can you be successful and well-liked at the same time?
Be more YOU. In my experience, game changers only happen through the courage and determination of those who are willing to carry a bold vision and realize it unapologetically. The opportunity lies in learning how to be comfortable in our own skin, and to love, own, and embrace our brilliance and our crazy. That’s real power.
We must go beyond the dichotomy of “the Bitch” and “the Pushover.” We must embrace the creativity, strength, and chutzpah we possess. If success isn’t a whole self proposition, then it ain’t whole success. When we’re operating authentically, we make the highest contribution we’re capable of. This will help us not only at work, but also in our personal lives and our relationships with ourselves.
So, instead of wasting all our energy navigating the tension between success and likability, we should use our highest contribution to make a difference wherever we are. Through this, we lead with love instead of fear. Business can actually benefit from a more nurturing, communal, and creative culture — balanced with strong vision, accountability, results-oriented performance, clear directives, and an aligned team — no matter who is at the helm. It’s all about finding the balance.
Think about some of the people we most remember: Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Sojourner Truth. They led with love, not fear.
In order to lead with love, we must:
- Reconcile how we see and feel about ourselves: “As within, so without.” Genuine self-love means we embrace our whole selves — our talents, gifts, and abilities; our insecurities and flaws; the things we want to celebrate and the things we aspire to heal.
- Have a vision (for yourself and the world) worth working toward. We are led by the commitment to make our highest contribution on behalf of what we believe matters most.
- Forgive ourselves and others when we fall short. We won’t always rise to the occasion, nor do we always get it right. We all need room to fail, learn, grow, and become better.
- Be compassionately relentless and patiently urgent. Be steadfast in the intention to realize a vision and be willing to allow it to unfold in divine time and divine order.
“Real Change will come when powerful women are less of an exception,” Sandberg says. Amen, Sheryl, and that day is coming much sooner than you think. Because we are already here and we are rising.
Rha Goddess is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.