Are You Using All Your Power?

#WOCinTech Chat

#WOCinTech Chat

Call me crazy...but ever wish there were magical words, like a spell or a mantra, you can cast on yourself to boost your power at the negotiating table?

Here's one I came up with: 

May I draw power from above me, power from below me, power from my left, power from my right, and power from within me. 

If you thought, hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because I've adapted the Navajo prayer that goes, "Let me walk with beauty in front of me, beauty behind me, beauty above me, beauty beneath my feet, and beauty within me.” 

As with beauty, there is power all around and within us. If that smacks of woo-woo for you, consider that social scientists and academics have also described power in this way: power apart (autonomous power), power with (shared power), power under (supported power), and power over (boss power). 

Quick question (don't think too hard) - which of these four types of power do you struggle the most to use for yourself? 

Let me guess. Is the thought of using power over a bit uncomfortable to you? 

I've found that many people, present self included and even the fiercest feminists among us, have a deep-seated aversion for exerting power over. 

This bias works in insidious ways. It gets powerful women disliked and gives them names like bitch or difficult. It asks the men to "hit it hard" but the women to "smile and listen better" or to "bring it down a notch." It holds you back from taking credit for your expertise and finding the money in bossy, as my partner Lisa Gates has ingeniously phrased it.

Without flexing your power over, you run the risk of defaulting to a power tactic women have known and used for way-too-doggone-long: ingratiating from power under. 

The first female commander-in-chief will not bat an eyelash to use her power over. Neither should you, when the time and place is right.

Last week, several of you joined me and Lisa for the first episode of She Negotiates' new webinar series "Did She Just Say That?" (Thank you, BTW!)

We found out that a whopping 75% of our audience have been called bossy. Here's the thing about bossy women. Bossy women turn heads (What did she just say?!). Bossy women are controversial (Sheryl Sandberg, anyone?). And apparently bossy women learn how to negotiate. 

We celebrate the women who wear the bossypants (or the pantsuits) to lead, to get stuff done and to ask with confidence for what they want. 

So, please use your power in all directions to thrive.  

Let's get you started. 

  1. Shed light on your power apart, or your autonomy, by identifying your unique strengths and values. Do independent work that sets you apart from the crowd. 
  2. Use your power with by tapping your network. Gather your posse under a common cause and find strength in numbers. 
  3. Flex your power under by asking for support from enlightened bosses, expert mentors and mighty champions. 
  4. And most importantly don't ever shirk away from your power over as a leader, parent or teacher. If you're not any of the above just yet, you can start developing your power muscles by leading meetings and projects, speaking publicly or taking charge in stormy situations. Opportunities abound. 

May you draw power from all directions. 

P.S. Ladies Get Paid, She Negotiates, and several other women-focused groups are coming together (there's that power with again) to watch our first female president get elected. If you're in NYC on 11/8, join me and other badass women for this free Election Night Viewing Partyin Brooklyn.