Woman in FedoraThat question comes up every time I speak with women about their career aspirations.

A second question just as surely follows: if we can’t be authentically who we are, why would we want to “succeed” in male-dominated organizations or professions? Many women who leave the corporate world to stay home with children or enter entrepreneurial or nonprofit fields—or alternately, remain quietly in their jobs put only to find themselves doing the work but not getting the promotions—say they do so because they don’t want to become like men.

Yet all signs point to a potential breakthrough moment for women even as we debate the pros and cons of taking on male camouflage.

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Regular guest columnist Anne Doyle wrote this post for International Women’s Day, but it applies every day. It reminds me about how important symbols are, and is a great example of what I call “Sister Courage”–be a sister, have courage, and work together like a movement with sister courage. Here’s the link to the original on Anne’s website if you want to connect with her there. I’m so proud of Anne for running for city council (and winning!), as well as admiring her leadership ideas.

Nearly two years ago, just before I was to give a speech before a group of Michigan businesspeople, I met a woman who was wearing a very unusual, intriguing pin. I complimented her on it and she told me how much she loved it.

After my speech, the same woman came up to me, handed me the pin and told me she wanted me to have it. “Oh no, I couldn’t take your pin. I know it’s very special to you.” She insisted, but told me there was a string attached to her gift. “You must promise me that one day you will give this pin to another woman,” she said. “I am giving it to you with the understanding that you will pass it forward.” “How long can I keep it?” I asked her. She simply said, “You will know when it’s time to pass the pin and its power forward.”

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On Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful to three courageous leaders. First, Dana Kennedy, Executive Director of Emerge Arizona. Dana not only works every day to recruit, train, and support pro-choice Democratic women to run for office, she put her convictions into action by running for Phoenix City Council. Though she didn’t prevail this time, I hope she will run again until she joins the ranks of leadership consultant and occasional guest poster here, Anne Doyle and political blogger par excellence Jill Miller Zimon, both of whom mounted their first political races and won city counil seats in Auburn Hills MI and Pepper Pike OH respectively.

As then-AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, now Secretary of Homeland Security, once told me, “You can’t win if you don’t run.” That’s a great leadership lesson, whether we’re talking politics or profession, civic engagement or choosing life goals.

Nervous about taking the plunge? Help is a Google away. In the political realm, check out this report featuring Emerge Arizona.

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My last post was about how leaders put their purses where their principles are; this second of leadership expert Anne Doyle’s regular guest posts on Heartfeldt Politics illustrates how she is putting her principles where her politics are. I am so excited that three women I admire and respect greatly have thrown their hats into the political ring in the last two weeks. I sense a big change just in the year since I started researching this Elle article which found women don’t run for a variety of reasons. What motivated Anne? Here’s her story:

I’ve been politically active for decades. Have worked hard for candidates I believed in. Gave as much money as my budget could bear. Dialed at least a thousand phone calls. Knocked on doors. Served as precinct captain. Even turned my house into a bustling, “get-out-the-vote headquarters” on election day. And I’ve been on the “we need more women in political office” bandwagon for at least a decade.

The one thing I haven’t done is stick my neck out and run for office myself. Until now. I’ve just pulled my petitions and started to gather signatures to get my name on the ballot this November for City Council in Auburn Hills, a rapidly changing, once rural, community 30 minutes north of Detroit, Michigan.

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