The Worst Piece of Advice from a Women’s Leadership Conference

Several years ago, I attended a women’s leadership conference and was eager to learn from all the incredible senior-level executives who were sitting on panels and leading keynote talks.

I specifically remember listening to one woman (with a BIG title) who was working for one of Vancouver’s largest companies. When it was time for Q&A, I asked how she stood in her power as a senior leader in a very male-dominated organization, and she replied:

“I just act like one of the guys. I dress like the guys, I talk like the guys, I even learned how to play golf even though I can’t stand it. You have to do what you have to do. Just keep faking it until you make it.”

Worst. Advice. Ever.

Too often women get this advice, which basically tells us: move away from who you REALLY are, and out of your own integrity. Our integrity is what makes us feel whole and in alignment with our core values and who we really are. It’s when we are operating from a place of authenticity. To be told to act like someone completely different is reckless advice.

At the time however, as a younger and more impressionable version of myself, I took the advice to heart. I remember thinking like I had landed on some secret women’s code that everyone knew but me – “Just fake it until you make it!”. Although I wouldn’t say I fully embraced her advice, I definitely made micro turns throughout my career that pushed me further and further away from my true self – until it got to the point where I didn’t recognize who I really was because I had been faking it for so long.

Looking back on this advice, I can have empathy for the woman who gave it to me. It was well-intentioned and for her; it was what had helped her survive in a very male-dominated and patriarchal structure.

BUT – We need to stop telling women to “fake it until you make it” and stop encouraging them to “just be like a man”.

I believe it’s one of the biggest reasons we are seeing women burnout on repeat. We are all in some sense operating outside of our integrity and way too focused on anchoring onto our masculine power.

For women to continue to rise, not only do women have to demand more from society and the existing structures, but we also have to start operating from a place of our feminine model of power and show other women how this is done. NOT ONCE in 20 years in business did I ever hear the words “feminine” and “power” used together.

I didn’t realize how far away from my feminine power I really was.

Feminine power is very different from masculine power – it is connected, creative, curious and open. It is non-linear and receptive, intuitive and inclusive. When we are disconnected from ourselves, always in doing and never in our being, we are disconnected from our true power.

I believe the most revolutionary ways a woman can lead is:

1. Care for herself in a deep way and role model this to other women. In caring for and being connected with ourselves, we tap into our feminine power and stand in the impact we want to have as leaders and in our work. This is revolutionary unto itself!

2. Normalize self-doubt. Yes, you feel the self-doubt! That’s okay – just don’t let it impact the actions you want to take.

3. Recognize the correlation between living out of alignment with your true self, your integrity and burnout. If you keep finding yourself in burnout, start listening. This is your body’s way of telling you that you are out of alignment with your core values (I have learned this lesson too many times to count).

4. Embrace a new way of leading. Learn more about Feminine Power and how you can lead from this place. Make a commitment to doing your own inner work and let your leadership flow from there. Remember and reclaim who you really are!

5. Step into your true power. Not the paradigm of control and command, but the power to stand in service of your leadership vision and your ability to be seen for the brilliance you bring but may have forgotten you have.

Throughout the past 20 years,

I have taken courses, programs, attending leadership development conferences, gone to therapy and spent countless hours with my own coach. This has led me to where I am today, standing in service of my vision to support women live and lead bravely. I invite you to join me and the countless other women who choose to stand in their bravery and lead from a place of alignment and authenticity.

In September, I will welcome over 20 leaders to my Brave Leadership for Women program and I would love to have you join us. More information on how you can build upon your brave leadership journey can be found here.