Leadership is first and foremost about developing others. I wrote this post to our fabulous and diverse and talented participants in our NEW Train-the-Trainer program (we held the training at the beautiful Omega Institute in May) to share why my core workshop is so necessary for women NOW—how their role as certified “Take The Leaders” can accelerate women’s advancement to leadership parity.
Meet the first class here and be dazzled by the range of expertise. You’ll want to book them to come to your company or organization to increase dramatically the pipeline of highly-skilled women leaders. And if you want to be considered for our October 22-23 Train-the Trainer program in Phoenix, Arizona, click here.
So here’s the story of why I liken my legacy to a pie. A chocolate cheesecake, actually.
1. I believe in the power of the infinite pie.
A few years back, my chocolate marble cheesecake won first prize in a charity chocolate-tasting contest. A number of attendees asked whether I shared recipes, implying I’d want to hoard it. I wondered, is anyone so needy as to hold onto the miniscule amount of power conferred by a cheesecake recipe? I gave it to anyone who asked.
Soon, it seemed like half the population was baking that cheesecake! It occurred to me that another amateur chef could enter the same dessert in the contest. But the next year my chocolate marble cheesecake won first prize again. Apparently there is no finite cheesecake, um, pie. That principle is one of the bedrocks we will examine as we plumb women’s relationship with power, intentionality, and leadership in our curriculum. And it also helps explain why I’m sharing my work through Take The Lead’s Leadership Power Tools Train the Trainer program.
2. I believe that by sharing my life’s work, together we can enlarge the women’s leadership pie faster and better.
I’ll admit this is a scary proposition. I’ve spent years researching, developing, and teaching the Power Tools workshop in a variety of online and in-person formats. I believe in it with all my heart because I’ve seen the difference it’s made for women and men alike.
But I am only one person. I’m a practical activist. I want my work to have impact that is not just meaningful to me, but moves the dial toward my life’s purpose of equality and justice for all women: for you, and our daughters, and our granddaughters. That’s the legacy I want to leave, the passion that propels my work. And at Take The Lead, we don’t just like working with collaborators; collaboration is core to our scaling up strategy. YOU are core to scaling up.
We’ll redefine power so women understand it’s not a finite pie: the more there is, the more there is. If I help you and you help me, we both end up with more influence, better ideas, and lots more of whatever we set out to achieve.
True, the stakes of sharing my life’s work are far higher than sharing a recipe. But going it alone will never create big systemic change. Going it alone isn’t strategically wise or necessary. You see, I have been an activist for women for four decades. And in 2008 when asked by Elle magazine to write about women running for office, I was shocked to my core to find that though we’d smashed open doors and eliminated most legal barriers, women still weren’t walking through those doors with the speed or intention required to reach parity in my lifetime—and that women had been stuck at an average of 18 percent of the top leadership positions across all sectors of business, politics, and professions for two decades. At the slow rate of increase, I calculated it would be 70 years to reach parity!
That compelled me to determine why, and more importantly, what to do about it. I wrote my book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power to provide a handbook for women to embrace power and intention. When women understand their power and embrace it authentically, they can lead their dreams without internal or external limits holding them back. They can live their best lives and make life better for others.
Since then, I’ve given Take The Lead the use of my “9 Leadership Power Tools” curriculum—a unique program I’ve developed to help women change their relationship with power, and “crack the code” holding women individually and collectively back from assuming their fair share of top leadership roles. This is the piece that was missing. It is fundamental to how we will, together, achieve leadership gender parity in all sectors by 2025.
3. I believe we can create that infinite pie with three ingredients: vision, courage, and discipline.
All great accomplishments start with a clear and compelling vision. The vision of Take The Lead’s Train-the-Trainer program is a key strategy for reaching our mission of leadership parity by 2025. Our trainers add their own twists and can improve upon my version, but the most important thing is that we are all driven by the same passionate vision that women will thrive, with a fair and equal share of leadership.
Courage starts with clarity of values.
I’m challenged every day to “wear the shirt” of my convictions (Power Tool #6) that this program will succeed where others have not, even in the face of skeptics like the person who thought I’d keep the tasty recipe to myself, or those who think there are too many women’s leadership programs already, or—you can think of a thousand ways our confidence can be eroded. We’ll support each other through those moments.
It also takes courage for me personally to turn my creation loose. You know the saying, “If you love them let them go.” That’s certainly true with ideas, and that’s why I am letting go, not with a sense of loss but with the realization of purpose, passion, and legacy. I trust you to carry them forward with integrity.
And that brings me to the third ingredient: discipline.
This program is not like Johnny Appleseed. To get the best results from the 9 Power Tools Workshop it matters where the roots are planted and that we have measurable outcomes. While we expect and welcome creativity, we have that core set of values and principles as well as concrete immediately actionable Power Tools, without which women won’t achieve leadership parity by 2025.
That’s why Take The Lead’s Leadership Power Tools training program has both roots and wings. Our work is rooted in rigorous training, quality measures, and evaluation that keep us on-mission and on-purpose. At the same time, we want our trainers to spread their wings. We’ll foster the continuous improvement that can only come from many committed people sharing ideas and testing new ways of delivering the Power Tools.
Together we will create the powerful infinite pie so women can at last have fair and equal chances to thrive, while in turn making the world better for men, children, and themselves. What could be a more meaningful legacy than that?
Thank you for being such an important part of making this vision a reality.
Power TO you,
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.