Is Being Powerful a Faux Pas for Women?

Throughout the month of January, I’ve been discussing the concept of power across all my social media platforms. Why? I chose power as the theme of the month for January because I want the mompreneurs in my community to stop giving their power away, to know what real power is, and to learn how to be more powerful in their lives.

Believing in one’s own power determines things like happiness and success–two things I’m committed to in my own life. I know I’m powerful enough to achieve both. And I’m committed to helping the mom entrepreneurs I coach do the same.

But there are some hurdles in the way. We have all sorts of mindsets and beliefs that limit our power. There are positive and negative connotations of power, and the negative ones can sometimes cause us to give away our power. This quote from Margaret Thatcher on leadership is one of my favorites, but it can be co-opted by a woman who is fearful of being a leader or being powerful:

“Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t.”

Is it impolite to declare you’re powerful? Does believing you are powerful make you arrogant, and then less powerful? Are you only powerful if someone else tells you that you are? How does power look on a woman? Do women wield power differently than men? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Join me today for the Mom Biz Solutions Show on Blog Talk Radio. I’ll be addressing some of these questions and giving my response. You can join in the discussion on my Facebook Page.

Then check back here on the blog tomorrow where I’ll be sharing a fantastic guest post from one of my favorite clients and powerful women, Cherry Woodburn of BorderlessThinking.com.

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11 comments

  1. Great post! I think being a successful woman can have its pros and cons. Some people may be afraid to approach you because they think you “have power” but really, you’re just like everyone else. I also think that men can be intimidated as well. I have found that power also coincides with being busier, which makes it difficult on family life. It’s wonderful and difficult all in one, being a “Mompreneur” or “powerful” woman. I have had my own company for 10 years now, and some times are more challenging than others (especially since I have 3 children). My work is my true passion, however, so I am so fortunate to get to do what I truly love. I have found as more successful I get, it’s more rewarding, but also more challenging. When I am asked to speak at conferences, be on television, etc., I don’t think of myself as powerful. I look at it as I’m just sharing what I know as an expert.

  2. And that’s exactly what makes you powerful, Alison. I’ve interviewed many
    women over the years and discussed this topic, and one thing that seems true
    for many women is that being perceived as “powerful” often feels
    uncomfortable. And it does bring a ton of responsibility (and what mom needs
    more of that?). So there are some good reasons that it feels uncomfortable,
    and then there are some other reasons (linked to fears, self-limiting
    beliefs, self-doubt, etc.) that don’t help us at all.

    I like to think of it this way: Being powerful means owning your choices,
    knowing that you have them, and sharing what you have with others.

  3. I don’t believe it a faux pas for women to ROAR their power. I do believe it creates a shift in dynamics at the home that takes rethinking our roles as the primary care-giver. I’m the bread winner and entrepreneur in the family, so my husband usually comes home from his job and cooks, cleans and watches the kids. I am usually in my office finishing up work. Around 8pm or so, we shift to me supporting him as the man. It works.

  4. I love Margaret’s quote. I do think there is a fine line between being assertive and pushy. Tasteful and tacky with power. I always go back to “would I be embarressed if someone I respected overheard me in a power struggle?” “Do I treat others the way I want to be treated?” “Do my kids sound like me when in confrontations – do I like the way the sound?”. Great post Lara!

  5. Raven–It certainly sounds like you and your hubby have defined for
    yourselves the roles and responsibilities in your household. The power
    dynamic shifts a lot, and we have to keep defining it as we go along. ROAR
    on!

  6. Agree with you, Leigh! If we take our definition of power from what we learn
    watching cartoons (oh right–I mean, from our kids’ watching cartoons),
    super heroes have super powers and can do things the rest of us mortals
    can’t. Furthermore, there are always evil villains who are trying to usurp
    power from everyone else so they can one day take over the world.

    In my world, a powerful woman is one who owns the responsibilities she has,
    doesn’t look for excuses, but instead focuses on what there is to be done.
    She lives according to her priorities and values, and she follows through on
    her commitments, especially to herself. She is powerful in the extreme when
    she’s helping others. She wields her power by saying yes or no according to
    her beliefs and goals, rather than blaming someone else that things are the
    way they are. She’s definitely not a bully.

    That said, I sure don’t like the way I sound sometimes when I’m frustrated
    with my kids. My oldest is starting to test me a little, asking why he has
    to do something I tell him to do. It’s hard not to fall into the power
    struggle trap that is just waiting there for me. Sometimes I fall. Other
    times, I avoid the power struggle and am able to lead and parent in a
    powerful way that is respectful of my kids, but in which I am not
    questioning myself.

    Thanks so much for the conversation!

  7. That is a great quote from Thatcher and post. So true about our thoughts and how we can limit ourselves without even realizing it.