The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.” Warren Bennis
The word of the week is one.
As in one woman speaking her truth gives courage to others.
As in the power of taking that one step that starts the march to progress.
As in one woman’s story and then another and then another can bring down a titan.
So Harvey Weinstein grabbed the headlines this week. But the real story was the bravery of each one of the women, starting with Ashley Judd, who came forward to tell her personal story years after her life had been changed, not for the better, by one man’s abuse of power. Fortune’s “Broadsheet “has this guide for keeping track of the facts.
Because one woman spoke out about Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and worse, other women were moved to tell their stories of similar experiences with him or other men. And let’s not forget the journalists at The New York Times and The New Yorker, respectively—two women and a man—who wrote unassailable narratives when they knew full well the machinery they were up against. What followed was a tsunami of stories in every publication and outlet imaginable. The three journalists were interviewed everywhere—from Slate’s “I Have To Ask” podcast to Rachel Maddow and everything in between.
I really don’t care about Weinstein himself, except to shake my head that someone so brilliant can also be so warped. But think about it. O’Reilly. Cosby, Kalanick, Ailes, the list is long and bipartisan. Some like Donald Trump have slipped through the nets thus far, but by and large both women and men are awakening to the reality that a fundamental shift is needed in our culture.
For this story is about power and its abuse: full stop. It’s the old brutal show of force by one who has it over the vulnerable aspirant. The use of sex as a weapon to dismantle any sense of agency the abused have over their own fate. Such men—and let’s face it, it is usually men because that’s who’s held the reins of power through most of recorded history– are aided by complicit colleagues, some out of fear of retribution and some who are simply clueless.
Leave it to women to cut to the chase– Samantha Bee’s savagely helpful PSA to Anne Victoria Clark’s brilliant life hack on Medium, The Rock Test. From “There’s Nothing Inevitable About Sexual Assault,” by Jaclyn Friedman over at Shondaland, to Rebecca Solnit’s deep dive into the culture of extreme masculinity, women took on every aspect of this news. Samantha Bee put it succinctly: “Oh, give me a break, White Cosby. It’s serial sexual harassment, not a Monkees tattoo.”
I became obsessed with understanding women’s relationship with power when I began researching why women were stalled at under 20% of top leadership positions across all sectors for my book No Excuses. I saw that we needed to transform our concept of power and I created the 9 Leadership Power Tools to offset the old models in order to have a chance at breaking through to parity before another century rolled around. And women are ready.
Just as Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus launched a major social justice action, and Anita Hill’s testimony gave us language for sexual harassment, it takes one person to start and then others have the courage to speak up. That’s how change starts: one person, one story at a time.
And that’s what we hope you’ll want too–a new vision of power—Powertopia, we’re calling it. I invite you to join us November 14th in New York and in a growing number of locations (38 so far and growing every day!) around the country for Take The Lead Day. It’ll be a vanguard movement to change the dynamics and realities for women and men to enable both the break the chains of a culture that has imprisoned us all in stereotypes and behaviors that do not serve us well in the 21st Century.
You’ll have an amazing day of panels and workshops that go way beyond inspiration to give you techniques and tools you can use wherever you are in your career or in your life. Take a look at our stellar lineup and keep checking back as every day we are adding in speakers, events and more.
Sign up to join us in New York that day or at any of the other events happening closer to you OR consider becoming a change-maker yourself and host an event or watch party of the livestream from our NYC hub. You’ll find everything you need to get started here on our website with all the supporting tools to promote here.
Michele Weldon, Take The Lead This Week’s editor, will be sharing stories of key speakers in the weekly newsletter so consider signing up here to have the latest delivered to your inbox every Tuesday. Take a look at these panels we will be hosting in our New York hub: Take Action-Create a Movement: Leadership Parity from the Living Room to the Boardroom; Embrace Controversy— How to Reach Gender Parity in Tech; Define Your Own Terms— Negotiating for What’s Important to You; Wear the Shirt— Making Your Business Match Your Values; Employ Every Medium— Using Your Voice Powerfully. And there are more events all across the country for you to check out and even more being added in every day, from in-person watch parties to free webinars.
I am honored to have been chosen as one of Forbes Fifth Annual Forty Women to Watch Over Forty, which puts me in league with women who have achieved great things in every field. The lesson here: while it takes one woman to start, what we can count on is that there are many women collectively, ready, able, and working to make change happen.
TAKE THE LEAD prepares, develops, inspires and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It’s today’s women’s movement — a unique catalyst for women to embrace power and reach leadership parity. Join us online, sign up for our newsletter and have insightful news and advice delivered weekly, and check out our Virtual Happy Hour, our leadership programs and other offerings.
Welcome to The Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt