by Carrie (Adams) Connors
Being a female leader today is hard. No one probably told you growing up that you’d be a great manager one day and how a strong female leader does that. That you’d be awesome at running massive projects and being held to high standards of performance for not just yourself but those around you. That you could run a company. When being complimented you were probably told you were pretty first, then nice or sweet, then maybe smart, then maybe something else. And that is how the world still sees you sometimes. First it is how you look, then it is how they perceive your temperament, then, MAYBE, just maybe it will be about the deeper substance of you.
Being a female leader today is hard. It doesn’t come with instruction but it does come with plenty of double standards. You’re either too soft or too hard. Passion might be labeled as too emotional. Someone might look at your having kids or wanting more kids as a hire or retention risk. Someone might think when you make a decision or make a point you’re being a bitch as opposed to being in charge. These are real things. And those real things are the things that we battle in our environment every day when we walk into our places of employment – whether it is an office, a law firm, a hospital or a restaurant. Those are hard things. There isn’t a roadmap for that or a set of operating instructions to achieve the optimal outcome.
The reality is actually much bigger than double standards of leadership because being a female today is hard. No one probably told you growing up that you’d balance a career and family while pursuing your own personal hobbies gracefully. They probably didn’t tell you that you could be a CEO and a soccer mom. That you could be more than just one thing at one time. You weren’t handed you a roadmap for being a leader…. AND a wife….AND a mother or step-mother, AND a friend, AND a professor, AND a daughter, AND a soccer coach, and a “all the other things” that we are. We are undeniably so many things. So we ask ourselves all the time is it enough, am I enough, am I giving and doing enough? Is this what it is supposed to look and feel like? Because no one has ever told us how to stitch it all together to some level of standard.
So we wonder. We judge ourselves. We second-guess. Most of the times we end up on the losing end of that internal struggle. I hate that part the most. In an environment that already comes with a double standard and inherent challenges we pile on with our own criticism and self-doubt. So if no one told you any of these things growing up I’m telling you now. You’re all the things. You’re balancing it beautifully. People around you are better for knowing you. You’re a woman I respect and admire for being so many things at once. Don’t worry about what you think you’re not doing. Focus on all that you are and all that you do because being a female today might be hard but we have a lot to be proud of.
Spread the word. The next generation will hear your voice growing up. What will they hear you say?