This is a post from Jacinda Ardern’s Facebook wall dated 10th Aug 2017. She’s thanking Annette King for having stood by her during her entire election campaign. King and Ardern traveled together throughout the latter’s campaign.
King is one of Australia’s longest serving politicians. King describes Ardern’s journey to the top simply – a “reluctant leader” to a “fully-fledged, confident, emphatic Prime Minister”.
Ardern didn’t see herself as a leader while she was Deputy Labour Leader and Annette admits, neither did she and that was where she was wrong.
The result is there for all of us to see. Jacinda Ardern is the world’s youngest female head of government, having taken office at 37. Decisive, strategic, inclusive, transparent and kind – these are some of the words being used to describe this leader of the free world. They are being used to describe a woman.
While I don’t necessarily credit all of Jacinda’s rise to Annette King, but having a long serving female politician in your corner while you are campaigning for a top post says a lot about how transformational women to women mentorships can be.
Let me also share something closer to home. My home. For as long as I remember, I have had many mentors and a majority of those mentors are women. Women who’ve been there, done that. Women who don’t necessarily aspire to top rungs themselves. Women who are subtle king or should I say ‘queen makers’. Thrivewithmentoring came into the picture some 2 years ago, it hasn’t changed the world (yet), but has definitely changed my world. In this space of women to women mentorships, women boss together. They pull each other up. They don’t compete with each other but stand by each other. They volunteer their time and skills generously.
For women to generate the kind of influence that “man” made power structures have, they need to band together. There are fewer women at the top, because there are fewer women at the top. Women at the rungs have very few role models to look up to. The very few at the top won’t have the time to reach out and offer mentorship. It’s up to the rungs to seek it themselves. Don’t wait for things to happen, go out, take initiative, ask for mentorship.
If you want to be a woman at the top, go do what a woman at the top does.
What women to women mentorships do?
They can create a powerful network of women who you have solidly in your corner. Networking is one virtue that drives the world. Who you know and who they know makes the world go around. Influence and authority obviously make a difference but also how many you know and how well you are connected to them.
Take it a step forward. Don’t stop at how many you know. Get on with how well you know them. Barring a few, a majority of women will have had similar life experiences. They will have dealt with the cycle of education, prioritising family over career or vice- versa, being primary caregivers at home, for both children and aging parents and so on. While men might have the same experiences, societal expectations don’t lead them to choose between what they should do and what they want to do. Having a woman mentor who’s braved that journey helps in such cases. Help is an understatement here.
With networking and deepening breadth of connections, it opens a plethora of opportunities for women. So many women that I know today want to come back to the compensated working world. Some are keen to join as volunteers first. It’s like dipping your elbow into the water to check if it’s the right temperature for the baby. They want to feel if they are still suited to the workforce and if they can still contribute. And in doing so they contribute countless working hours of specialised expertise for free to all those around them. Many are willing to upskill themselves and prove their resilience. Every day I seem to meet a woman who is changing the world in her own small way – or helping another woman to do so.
I am not jumping to big conclusions here. This is neither exaggeration nor euphemism. This is the actual, factual truth. The significance of woman to woman mentorships can’t be overstated. There’s so much out there about the lack of things when it comes to women- lack of mentors, lack of leadership roles, lack of key networks, lack of time, lack of real relationships, lack of structural support. The only way to best it is the generosity of women to women mentorships.
Mentorship can create the power surge that it will take to rocket women to top positions and leadership roles.
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