I was doing a speaking engagement recently on the topic of leading with authenticity and a woman walked up afterwards. She had a dilemma. She wanted to be able to leverage her network to grow her customer base but felt inauthentic asking her network for help.
A lot of women leaders I meet have good networks but they have a hard time calling on their networks to help them. Why is that? They say it feels “icky”. They feel like if they use their relationships to help them in their business or careers they are being inauthentic. I believe there is a gender expectation that we all need to become more aware of. The gender expectation is that women are supposed to be caring, cooperative and relationship-building – for the sake of relationship-building. Thus, often when a woman wants to leverage her network for advancing goals, it causes her to feel “icky”. On the other hand, many men are happy to use their networks for mutual benefit. They benefit by networking “strategically”. This of course, has nothing to do with authenticity. It has everything to do with the unconscious gender expectations we take on. Authenticity is about connecting with values and a sense of purpose that inspires each of us rather than conforming to gender expectations of who we should be.
So I decided to talk to my good friend Kathy Hatala, SVP at Speakeasy, who is masterful at the art of building and leveraging relationships and doing this with great authenticity. I certainly learned a lot from her in this interview. I hope you do as well.