Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Women Rise Up

When we all saw Ann Romney and Michelle Obama and so many other successful women take the stage to speak at this year’s political conventions, it made me hopeful for my daughter in college.  Women are the majority gender in this country but have often taken a place backstage at these quadrennial party gatherings, rather than taking center stage as the headliners.
It wasn’t just the GOP candidate’s wife and the First Lady though.  We saw women cabinet secretaries (past and current), senators, representatives, governors, mayors and mothers and daughters.  All were as eloquent as their male counterparts – some even wiped the floor with their male colleagues in terms of speaking skill.  I don’t say that with surprise.  I say it in a sense of “what took us so long to see it?”

In my job, I have the privilege of coaching successful business people across title, culture, geography and gender.  For male and female clients, their speaking success is about projecting poise, presence and power on whatever stage they occupy. It’s all about connecting with their audiences intellectually, physically and emotionally.  It’s being an “all-in” speaker – communicating from your head, your heart and your gut.
We saw a lot of that “all-in” speaking at both conventions – even from women whose only official title is “mother”.  None did it better than Michelle Obama.  Here’s some of what I saw her do:

She used self-disclosure to bring us into her world
She wrapped her thoughts in shared human experience
She dressed her ideas in the audience’s everyday reality
She spoke with controlled passion in a conversational way
She stood up straight and projected physical strength
She built a human bridge to her audience’s heart

Whether their preferred role model is Ann Romney or Michelle Obama or Susana Martinez or Tammy Duckworth, young women and girls had a lot of great public examples to emulate on these nights.  They can start though by emulating their mother/heroes, as many of these women did.  Those mothers struggled, in their own way, to crack the glass ceiling of prejudice.

As a man and a father, I offer one piece of advice to all those daughters. Don’t keep cracking your head against the glass ceiling.  I'm told it hurts.
Save your heads – kick the door down instead.

Soon it will be two men up on stage at their party conventions – praising their dad/heroes – and their candidate/wives – and their brave daughters.

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