“I am not interested in power games; I just want to make a difference.” My coaching client, a smart and passionate woman leader, is bumping against a different glass ceiling: her ability to influence, mobilize resources and move people to action.

At another time, I sit for a chat with a small group of women leaders and I ask about their relationship to power: how they define it, how they express it. Some silence, and then some questions: Do I mean “strength”? Do I mean “influence”. No, I do really mean “power” with all the good, the bad and the ugly parts. These leaders don’t want to be seen explicitly appropriating power for themselves, but each of them is facing some serious limitations in moving their plans forward. They leave the field open for others to set the rules and end up playing a narrowly defined game.

I have yet to come to terms with how complex it can be to see myself as a powerful woman. I cringe as I am writing these words. This is a move still outside cultural norms; admitting to an intention of exercising power quickly brings up negative judgement.

Corrupted or overbearing public figures often shape our opinion of power. Inspiring, inclusive, generative and apparently sane female role models who overtly manifest their power are still too few. We also forget that no leader has power without corresponding vulnerabilities, and pretending not to be interested in power can be in itself a form of power play.

Power dynamics exist everywhere and they matter. Understanding and owning our power, exercising it carefully and wisely, being accountable for it – this is all part of leadership. Being passionate about leadership development, I am now inviting women leaders on an exciting journey of exploration and discovery: to explore different forms of power and its conscious and skillful manifestations through facilitated conversations.

Power offers a fascinating learning lens. For me it is an understanding of old patterns that come to life when I feel visible and exposed. New possibilities offer themselves when I am willing to move beyond discomfort and dare to push against boundaries (real or imagined). Time spent with Diane Musho Hamilton, an extraordinary teacher in the field of facilitation and conflict resolution, granted me the chance to delve into power dynamics in the company of other women. I am now on a mission to ignite women’s desire to step into their full power and to bring courage, wisdom and heart to leadership. Are you ready for the journey?

Maryse Lepage
Integral Consultant, Coach & Facilitator