…we all learn through life and many people in positions of leadership and power today, were once rookies. Do not think your opinion does not count, it does. Do not assume you are wrong, what if you are right? Do not think you do not know enough, there are many people who do not know what you know. Have no fear you will sound stupid; many have no courage and are glad you are bold enough to stand up.
I will begin with a charge that wherever you are, ‘let the silent speak, let the hidden be seen and let the powerful exercise their might.’ That you are reading this means you have a voice. You are not one of 796 million illiterate people in the world. By being educated, you have validated the famous words of Lord Henry Peter Brougham that: “education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
I respectfully ask you to adopt and internalise a new motto, a new mantra, a new slogan that you will lead the charge to do three things for women and girls: That you will not be silent, and that you will help silent women find their voice. That you will not hide, and you will help the hidden to be seen. That you will declare and demonstrate your power, and help women gain power and exercise their might. Women and girls have long been silent, now they must speak. Women and girls have long been hidden, now they must be seen. Women and girls have long been powerful, now they must exercise their might. How can you do it from your corner?
Move From Silence To Command (Let the Silent Speak)
Your voice is your power and presence. Your voice is unique, it is an outward representation of who you are to the world. Every girl, every woman, has the right to be heard, to be seen and to act. Every girl, every woman, has a voice that she can act upon, to make the world better. You have currency. Your currency is the right to express an opinion, to have a say in what concerns you and what affects your organisation, community and the society at large. Spend the currency, speak up. How can you be heard? Here are the tips.
Trust Your Voice, Master Your Words: Within your family, in school, at work, everywhere, the society may tell you a woman should not have strong opinions, that you are trying to be masculine if you attempt to claim space and speak up. Trust your voice. If you aspire to any form of leadership, it is important to trust; that what you feel, what you know, and what you see, is valuable. After developing trust in your own voice and what you feel, know and see, you must always plan what you are going to say, decide the words you will be using and how you will say your words. With the confidence and mastery of your own voice, the next step is learning to speak your words in a way that compels you to be listened to, and your words acted upon. You cannot be influential by being silent. Your voice is who you are, it is how you show up, it signals your passion and the determination to see it through; it is taking a stand, it is your authentic self. How can you trust your voice? You can do so by:
Using Confident Language: concise language commands the attention of your audience. Do not soften what you say, by using words like “I suppose”, “I think”. Those words portray you as unprepared, unsure and not confident. Avoid filler words like “you know”, “em” as much as you can. The volume of your voice, the tone, cadence, eye contact, gestures, and your posture affect how people hear your message. Rehearse before you speak.
The cliché that your voice is your power is rooted in wisdom. When you have everything in place to lead, leading and staying in the lead depends on your power. Your voice and your choice of words determine your confidence and shape your ability to influence others. To declare your power and exercise your might, there are some things many of us do, that we must stop doing.
Step Out of The Shadows and Unveil Yourself (Let The Hidden Be Seen)
Representation matters. It is time to be seen. For us women, the narrative about us has always been around domestic life, children, husbands, friends and family, and less about work life, collaborations, leadership and finance. To step up, out of the shadows, you will need to learn how to speak differently. Tone matters. Women are blessed with high pitch voices but humans have evolved to associate lower vocal frequency with authority. Which means, a lower voice (not whispers, not being inaudible) is the voice of authority. If you want to be taken seriously in public, end your sentences on a lower tone than you started with. The world believes you should guard your tongue as a woman, lest you dance at the edges of socially acceptable norms. Guard your tongue by being modest in speech, not by being silent. Not by being hidden. Do not fold up when you should open up. Come out, do not hide. Your power lies in being able to say what you want, for as long as you want. Speak with confidence, let your words speak volumes, by sharing your experiences, ideas, and perspectives.
Own Your Voice, Declare and Demonstrate Your Power (Let The Powerful Exercise Their Might)
Malala Yousafzai said: “To be powerful, I only need one thing: education.” You are lucky to be educated. If you are not educated, you wouldn’t be reading this. It takes a lot of heavy lifting to gain power. To be powerful in any way takes a lot of persistence, grit and a strong belief in one’s own ability to realise set goals. Even though there are obstacles to women gaining power, significant internal barriers exist within us that undermine our success, our effectiveness and prevent us from realising the extent of the power we have. The cliché that your voice is your power is rooted in wisdom. When you have everything in place to lead, leading and staying in the lead depends on your power. Your voice and your choice of words determine your confidence and shape your ability to influence others. To declare your power and exercise your might, there are some things many of us do, that we must stop doing. Here are some of them:
1. Do not apologise for who you are, for your thoughts and ideas. Offering unnecessary and frequent apologies is a no, no. Saying too much sorry makes you look pathetic and subservient.
2. Avoid the use of weak words like, “I think”, “I feel”; they make you look unsure and project a lack of command. Use words like, “I know”, “I am convinced”.
3. Don’t let men appropriate your ideas. In many work settings all over the world, it happens that a woman brings up an idea, and it is ignored, until a man echoes it. Do not let it go. Reclaim it. Take ownership. Say something like; thank you for bringing up the idea I mentioned earlier.
4. Be a helper and a volunteer – declare your power by wielding influence. You wield influence by helping others achieve their goals. Volunteering your time and skills also project competence and influence.
Be proactive – ambitions are realised when we have an end in mind and set goals to achieve that end. The powerful are strategic people who have goals and plans to achieve them. They do not leave things to chance and luck. Be proactive, not reactive.
5. Promote yourself – self-promotion is a skill men have that we, women, have not mastered. I am guilty of this myself because I believe my work should speak for me. It is work in progress for me too. I’m struggling to know how to do it without looking like a braggart. Lack of self-promotion often leads to the lack of visibility and loss of power. Self-promotion is important in leadership. Leaders often promote themselves because they understand that you are your best advocate. Self-promotion helps in understanding our own value proposition and how we contribute to our organisation and community. If you do not blow your own trumpet, who will? Blow your own trumpet, promote yourself.
6. Leverage your relationships – women help out a lot. By helping others, we gain influence and recognition. What we do not do so well is to ask for help when we need it. Leveraging relationships is a leadership skill and a projection of power. Not asking for what we want or need from those who expect to return favors is a lost opportunity and loss of potential influence and social capital.
7. Be proactive – ambitions are realised when we have an end in mind and set goals to achieve that end. The powerful are strategic people who have goals and plans to achieve them. They do not leave things to chance and luck. Be proactive, not reactive. Reactive people do not have the drive nor the strength of conviction that proactive people have in goal setting and execution.
8. Have a network of strong allies, supporters and champions – to build power, you need a network of allies, supporters and champions who are willing to speak for you, support you and back you up. Take interest in people and what they do. Love is a two-way adaptor. Give and take.
9. Be effective – we all want to be liked but it is more important to be effective. That you are liked does not mean you are respected. Being liked is good, being respected is best. Effectiveness in leadership gives power. If you focus on being liked, it forces you to seek other people’s approval. Be effective, it is more rewarding because you earn respect.
10. Keep learning – this is a life-long process. Continuous learning keeps you ahead of the pack.
In conclusion, we all learn through life and many people in positions of leadership and power today, were once rookies. Do not think your opinion does not count, it does. Do not assume you are wrong, what if you are right? Do not think you do not know enough, there are many people who do not know what you know. Have no fear you will sound stupid; many have no courage and are glad you are bold enough to stand up. Be authentic, be genuine, connect, share what you know, be confident, take pride in your accomplishments, be fearless.
Again, let the silent speak, let the hidden be seen and let the powerful exercise their might.
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú, an advocate, strategist and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Twitter: @BamideleUpfront; Facebook: facebook.com/Bamidele. BAO
Only Georgia State University and Premium Times have the permission to publish this. It may be shared but not published on any blog or website.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...