For me, one of the most pleasurable things about aging is finding space to step into more of a leadership role.
Our society might idealize young women’s beauty—but it doesn’t often give younger women a whole lot of space to lead.
And while as a society, we still have a ways to go to embrace women’s leadership in general, there really is a more widespread acceptance of female leadership once we’re past our 20s and 30s.
I’m finding that now that as I age, the people around me are embracing my shift into a leadership role.
Most importantly, I’m discovering that it’s easier for me to give myself permission to lead. It’s easier to share what I know, and really take pleasure in that process.
Here are a few things I’ve experimented with that have opened up my own journey to becoming a leader.
Think of sharing your knowledge as giving a gift.
I remember when I first realized I had some knowledge and wisdom worth sharing. At the time, I worried about how people would perceive it if I shared what I know.
Who was I to think I knew anything that other people didn’t? How could I presume to lead anyone
Humility is something I really value, and I was worried that sharing my own knowledge would make me seem snobby or arrogant or boastful.
But the fact is, once you’ve logged some time on the planet—especially if you have a curious approach to life and are committed to learning and growing—you wind up knowing stuff!
And each of us knows different stuff (not more or less, just different), so there’s a lot of value in sharing what we know with others.
Once this clicked for me, I realized I could look at sharing what I’ve learned as a gift.
We’re all learning from each other. If I’m not sharing the things my unique experience on the planet has taught me, I’m hiding something that might be really useful to someone else!
I started experimenting with thinking about leadership as generosity. It was not in a way that said: “I’ve got all the answers.” It was in a lighter way, “hey—this might help, maybe you’ll find it useful!”
And I found that like any gift, those little acts of generosity feel really good to everyone involved.
Remember that the best leaders are lifelong learners.
I think the three most beautiful words in the English language—next to “I love you”—are “I don’t know.”
Our society puts such an emphasis on having everything all figured out, on perfection, on knowing all the answers. I think in a lot of ways women bear the brunt of those perfectionistic pressures.
It was revolutionary for me to get comfortable with not-knowing, with curiosity, with exploration—to get comfortable with “I don’t know.”
When I’m in a leadership position, and I’m comfortable not having all the answers—it frees up everyone around me to be in that curious, exploratory frame of mind.
I believe that mindset is incredibly rich and nourishing to creativity. And it feels so good to have permission to explore and discover.
Being a leader doesn’t have to mean having all the answers. It just means being comfortable enough to explore and find what works.
Try looking at leadership as a form of collaboration.
We live in a patriarchal society, so we’re all used to the idea of a “leader” being an authority figure, a boss, someone up there by himself, talking down to the rest of us.
But it doesn’t have to look that way.
These days, there are a lot of pretty cool women (and men!) out there experimenting with different models for leadership. I’ve been experimenting with the idea of leading from inside a group, rather than from above it.
So “leadership” becomes just another form of collaborating. That feels a lot more creative and fun—and a lot less lonely—than the idea of leading from way up on some perch, separated from everyone else.
How have you been stepping into leadership as you get older, and how do you think being a woman informs your leadership style? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!