Women leaders reached an historic milestone in 2023 when 10 percent of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were women, according to an article in Forbes. This represents a significant shift from prior years when only one or two women were on the list.the leadership landscape is changing. For many, that change is distressful, especially the men who previously occupied those top jobs.

Reframing views on power

A new book, released in June 2023, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman explores how men and women view power in different ways. “The Power Code: More Joy, Less Ego, Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone Else)” offers a version of power that is appealing to women and most men. Based on the research of the  authors, women view power differently than men, seeing power as a way to influence others to effect change. Men, on the other hand, see power more in a someone wins, and someone loses scenario. The authors summarized this difference as Power Over vs Power To

If women leaders are winning that must mean men are losing. “In this case, we’re talking about a deep, primal loss—the loss of status and the legacy of power that men, in particular, feel is at stake,” the authors noted. “It’s the very measure of what they feel a successful and meaningful life looks like. No wonder they try so hard to bar the door to the old boys’ club.”

This very human perspective leads to gender bias, a part of the broader issue of the status quo. The status quo–keeping things as they’ve always been— is the source of the mostly hidden structures that hold women back. Learn more about the common barriers holding back women leaders in my 3-minute survey.

Shift your perspective for better solutions

Feeling stuck behind barriers and resistance negatively impacts seeing yourself or being seen by others as a leader, your self-confidence, and even your sense of purpose. New solutions are possible when you reframe the resistance or bias you experience in the workplace less in terms of  “willful male bias” and more about “considerable anguish” over what men may see as a loss of their place in the workplace hierarchy.

If this feels Pollyanna, say to yourself, “what if this were true.” The possibility that seeing through a new lens yields a creative thought is worth it!

What can women in healthcare do?

Three-quarters of the workers in healthcare are female. At the upper levels, though, women make up only 30 percent of leadership, and even less at the CEO level, according to Oliver Wyman’s 2019 report, Women in Healthcare Leadership.

Now is exactly the right time to leverage the power you already have, find new sources of power in yourself and your community,and  to create needed changes in your workplace and your home life. What women can do personally to ease the angst of change:

  • Convert men to allies by demonstrating what’s in it for them. For example, show men how they can benefit from  emotional connections with family and friends that they often miss.
  • Discuss how having more options and opportunities for women also means more options and opportunities for men.
  • Discuss the big picture–why having a diverse leadership team matters. Multiple studies show that organizations with diverse leadership have better patient outcomes and are more profitable. Prove to peers that change will boost the bottom line.
  • What gets measured, matters. Advocate for diversity metrics in program goals you influence; job assignments, job reviews, and promotions..

Power is shifting in the healthcare industry. As the status quo shifts, there is going to be resistance. It’s helpful to understand how this affects male leaders so women can create more effective approaches to the changes that occur. People cling to the past because they don’t want to lose what they’ve got. Women have the opportunity to reframe how they see obstacles, shape their professional futures, and maximize their power for the benefit of others.

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