To quote loosely from the book, change is not happening as fast as we might think: women still struggle to gain leadership roles in most industries.
A report published in July 2019 revealed that, despite government-backed initiatives, 14 companies in the FTSE 350 still have no women or just one on the board.
Undoubtedly this is one of the causes of the UK’s glaring gender pay gap.
In 2018, the European Commission published a report which showed that they still earn on average 16% less in business than men.
So, as Antoinette points out, in this and many other ways, true equality is still a far-off goal on a dim and distant horizon.
This book is about how women can harness their power, rather than having it engulf them. How they can become attuned to its presence, and gain confidence.
Antoinette is clear that her aim in the book is “to create a new power paradigm which is no longer about one-dimensional win/lose power”. So, the book is not about manning up or putting on your power pose or faking it till you make it (Thank God!)
Many people have a narrow definition of power and believe that either you have it, or you don’t. In fact, power has many different forms, all of which can be used positively and negatively.
Understanding the different types of power that exist enables you to broaden out your power repertoire, giving you greater flexibility in your communication style and greater control over your emotions.
Her key point is that the expression of power – or lack of it – can be measured on a continuum, with passivity at one end, aggression at the other, and assertiveness in the middle. A neat model.
She goes on to point out that powerful women have learnt how to access both their soft power – e.g. emotional intelligence and influencing skills – and hard power – e.g. being directive and exerting force where required.
More importantly, in my opinion, “powerful women are clear about their purpose, role, identity, values and beliefs and have spent time defining their goals, boundaries and areas where they are prepared to flex”.
The book is set around the Power Up Model. “It is a unique tool to help you assess your personal strengths and track progress on your route to personal power. It’s based on research into the qualities that truly powerful women have honed and developed to be successful in all aspects of their work and life”.
Imagine a six-pointed star:
The right-hand side of the model represents your internal power sources and includes: Intuition, Knowledge and Resilience.
The left-hand side of the model represents the external power sources: Magnetism, Relationships and Assertiveness.
At the centre of the model is the word ‘Purpose’, which is the force that propels you forward.
“If you’re looking to develop your personal power, a useful first step is to examine the sources of power that are strongest for you and which might be holding you back. You can then use the tools, techniques and exercises in this book to build on your strengths and develop areas of weakness”.
As I have said elsewhere, my hackles rise when I see the word purpose. After Simon Sinek’s Power of Why TED Talk, everyone thinks they need a purpose. The original idea seems to have been hijacked by the personal development industry such that people feel inadequate or embarrassed if they don’t have one of these things – one of these things that everyone defines differently whether talking about personal or corporate purpose. OK, I’ll stop now!
Antoinette elegantly defines purpose as the force that propels you forward. What a relief. A sensible approach.
The book is well-written. It has been thoughtfully written and properly researched which makes a change. The exercises and stories and quotes complement Antoinette’s simple, straightforward style. The book’s approach to fulfilling your potential could be read by men as much by women but I get that Antoinette is talking to women and I get that she is talking from a specific point of view to a specific set of smart women – hence the title. However, I did not feel excluded.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the book. It made me think and it made me reflect. I have taken on board that there are numerous ways that one can be heard and listened to. Everyone can benefit from thinking about and working with the Power Up model.