I am on the board of a small organization where all board members have equal power. However, our current President is on a power trip and is trying to use the organization for his own personal purposes. Another woman and I are countering his efforts but we go about it very differently and get different results.
The other woman is upset because he doesn’t respond to her. At first she assumed she intimidated him and made him back down. But, now she realizes he dismisses her entirely – like she isn’t even worthy of a response or acknowledgement. She is very upset by his dismissal.
She doesn’t realize that the reason he dismisses her is because she doesn’t assert herself as his equal.
For example, he cancelled a next board meeting with no explanation. My response was to question why the meeting was cancelled and when it would be held – I wanted an explanation. By making him owe us an explanation, I didn’t let him treat the rest of the board as insignificant minions, subject to his whims. I didn’t let him off the hook. I asserted our equality.
The other woman’s response to the cancellation was “Thanks for the update. Do you have a future date in mind?”
She responded as if he were her boss. She subjugated herself and put all the power in his court. She didn’t ask for an explanation and therefore gave him permission to treat her according to his whim. She left it to him to decide when and if the meeting would be rescheduled. She gave him exactly what he wants – control with no accountability to the rest of the board.
When he didn’t respond, she didn’t have anything left in her court to reassert herself with. But I did. And I continued to assert myself and the rest of the board.
If you are going to challenge a man then you must continuously assert yourself. Once you concede your ground you will not get it back. You will be dismissed from that point on. This is the situation the other woman put herself in and got very frustrated by.
She, like many women, believed that if she asserted yourself, it would be interpreted as her trying to subjugate, diminish or control the man. She was afraid of getting into a conflict with the President. However, asserting yourself is about establishing and maintaining yourself as an equal, as someone who has a right to information and to exercise your role.
When you are dealing with a man like our board President, who I label an Alpha-Wannabe, it is easy to be intimidated by your fear of a big, nasty conflict. But Alpha-Wannabes are typically very conflict adverse and back down – that is why they are Wannabes. When they do lash out, it is as a means of last resort. They are a sinking ship on their way down.
When we continuously assert ourselves, we establish our own power. This enables us to counter the over-reach of men like our board President who are on a power trip. We create a powerful dynamic of full equality for all.
Update: What I said would happen, did happen. He realized the rest of the board wasn’t going to be a bunch of bobble-headed minions subject to his whims. He quit and blamed me. I gladly accepted “the blame” as well as the thanks of many people for asserting myself and holding my ground.
Empowered Women Always Assert Their Equality
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