“Political and economic might” – Is this the definition of ‘power’ we want?

Forbes has just published its annual list of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women. http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2012/08/22/the-worlds-100-most-powerful-women-2012-this-year-its-all-about-impact/.

I applaud these women for their amazing impact and success, and I applaud Forbes for recognizing them. Yet it makes me wonder. Do Forbes’ more traditional criteria for power – “political and economic might” – seem broad enough? These are good and valid measures of power.  I just don’t think they’re broad enough, because I don’t think they help us rethink power in the ways that power needs to be rethought.

I’d like to see a list of the most powerful peacemakers; the most effective educators; the most inspiring role models; the greatest champions for those without a voice.  Whether or not you will ever hear about them, these are women of power as well. Forbes won’t be heralding them, but someone should. Over the coming months, I’ll be working with InPower Women www.inpowerwomen.com to establish an annual award to recognize women who demonstrate an expanded, more current form of power: measured not by the size of title or income, but rather by the quality of their impact and character.  Stay tuned!



6 replies
  1. Broadcasting Sunny
    Broadcasting Sunny says:

    I watched an episode of the TV series Sliders (since cancelled). In it the main characters went to an alternate universe where the women were those that were in power. Cool, I thought. As I watched the show, they portrayed the women in positions that were traditionally men, positions of “political and economic might” 🙂 The women even acted like the men did. I groaned, I was hoping the positions of power would be those that were traditionally women, care giving positions, teachers, nurses, doctors, caregivers …

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one thinking this way. And I wish all the power to your efforts. I’m looking forward to reading more as things unfold 🙂

  2. Lorrie
    Lorrie says:

    Thanks, Leslie. I was speaking with my 24-year-old daughter yesterday about what it is to be a woman in leadership. We covered much the same territory as you explore in this blog. I’ll share the In Power Women resource with her and we will both follow along with your progress.

    I must admit that being over a decade into the 21st century and finding us still grappling with these questions as well as those of basic human biology leave me feeling a little exhausted.

  3. leslie.williams
    leslie.williams says:

    I hear you, Lorrie. Exhaustion makes so much sense to me. When I started this work five years ago, I worried: “Hasn’t the time for women’s work come and gone?” But I keep being shown that the need has never been greater.

  4. Patti Miller
    Patti Miller says:

    Leslie – GREAT post! I also hoped that the time had ‘come and gone’ – but, sadly, it has not.
    I eagerly await your next works as you navigate this most important subject.
    I’ve spent hours in discussion over this subject with a dear friend, Dr. Massouda Jalal – the woman who ran for president in Afghanistan’s 1st 2 post Taliban elections. Her global insights are both breath-taking and heart-breaking – and may be useful to you. She has a clear vision of a peaceful world. Let me know if you’re interested in talking to her.

    • leslie.williams
      leslie.williams says:

      Patti, first thank you for your enthusiastic support. I would love to speak with Dr. Jalal, and have absolutely no doubt that her insights would be gold. I will search the web to find out more about her, and will let you know if I would like an introduction. I certainly would want to feel that I was coming to her with an inquiry worthy of her time.

      Thank you so much!

  5. Patricia Hayes
    Patricia Hayes says:

    I fully support your endeavour to herald the women who are making a difference, independent of their economic and poltical profile.
    In a world where results are so important, we need to look beyond the formal positions from which people contribute and look at the impact they’re making. Those being helped won’t care if they made it into Forbes.

Comments are closed.