Not a panel discussion and Q&A on women’s leadership, not a wide open discussion with no structure… but a World Café: a uniquely open/structured conversation designed to invite and allow for convergence, divergence, complexity, and new clarity/actions
I want to see a women’s leadership panel that includes both Sheryl Sandberg and bell hooks, working and thinking together because I know they each hold a piece of the puzzle when it comes to taking our collective work to the next level.
Could men’s (and many women’s) silence around women’s leadership and resistance to gender balance not only be gender bias or an unwillingness to do the hard work of movement building… but also a sign that we’re missing a pretty huge piece of the puzzle?
Marino cited a Japanese business principle “kaizen”—which directly translates as “improvement,”—saying that kaizen is actually quite a bit more than just improving a work process. It also means agitating one’s company in ways that it needs to be agitated. This includes agitating the organization around issues of gender bias. What kaizen is really about, he says, is “waking up every day trying to make things better.”
One of the most exciting things about movement building is watching a new story or a narrative, or a new powerful idea, emerge in our collective consciousness and take clearer shape over time. In the women’s movement, this is usually a new story about women or gender, our relationships to each other as citizens, what leadership looks like, or how change happens. This is not a process in which we are passive; we must be active players in the creation of new stories; but many of these stories are emergent.
Movements don’t happen as a result of one individual or organization, but rather from the cumulative, coordinated, and uncoordinated efforts of many individuals and groups. If movement building feels chaotic, that’s because it is. And, as a mentor of mine reminded me recently, in other ways movements are very much controlled and rightly so.
So often we try to minimize, or better yet, wipe out our differences, or get people to agree with us, so that we can move forward together. But what if our desire to be on the same page is holding us back?
I’ve decided to join the team at Take The Lead because to me this is a project within the larger, often blurry field of “women’s leadership” that seeks to make visible all of the ways women are already moving forward. The idea being that we are at a unique turning point in history, and that although we can’t always see the movement happening, we know it is happening and we must work with all of those places where we feel new strength and energy.
Question your assumptions about power. As business thinkers have encouraged more “flat”, networked organizations, we’ve begun to change leadership structures. But we must do more than adjust structures; we must question our beliefs about leadership and more specifically, power… how it works and what it looks like. Letting go of strict, top-down hierarchical structures doesn’t do much if we approach our work with the same old attitudes about power.