How women can take back their power at work

Do you often use the phrase “girls” or “guys”, irrespective of people’s age group, position, or gender?

For many years I have been wrong. I had been calling men and women in any audience I’m speaking to “guys” not realizing that I was excluding the women. I am still doing my best to change this, now that I’m aware of it.

Another friend recently pointed out on film production, that the producer was calling the actors (girls). Both award-winning actors who won funding to make a film, who are professionally qualified actors, who won a writing award, and yet they are called girls. Can you see that it’s demotivating and degrading?

And then I heard some stories from Pakistan, Dubai, and Egypt that made me furious. And I will share some of the advice I gave to these women.

A senior business development consultant, with 15 years of experience, 7 years at this company sat in a meeting with mostly men. A few of her clients were in the meeting, as well as juniors who had only been with the company for a year.

She was presenting in the B2b space when they degradingly turned to her and said:

please can you organise us tea and cut the cake, we are sure you will be able to do it”.

Not only was this damaging to the reputation of the business, but what this person did was impact her Status in front of her client.

When you look at David Rock’s SCARF model, Neuroscience proofs that we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. And as a Leader to Team member, you can choose to either boost someone’s status: make them look like a winner in front of their boss or clients. Or bring them down.

Which option do you think they went for?

Here is a short video of me outlining the SCARF model.

Through the many examples of backstabbing, emotional manipulation, and bad politics, my inspiration to the Women was the following:

1. Take back your power.

Stop making wishes that things will change. Set goals for yourself. Develop a Strong Personal brand on how you want to be seen by your team, your boss, and your clients.

2. Develop your assertiveness and stop playing the victim

Even if your culture says that men outrank women. If you are legitimately in a Leadership position, take back your power and set healthy boundaries. Say no, and stop rescuing and doing everyone else’s jobs.

I encouraged them to read: The Choice by Edith Eger who says that everyone will have a tough time in life, but that victimhood is optional.

3. Notice your triggers and develop your Emotional intelligence

A lot of the women in the course said they can easily get overwhelmed with emotions and then get treated badly by men who would say: “Is it that time of the month again”.

By noticing your own triggers, you can calm yourself down in various ways. This is one of the techniques I taught them:

  1. During the meeting, if you notice you are accessing fight and flight mode.
  2. Imagine yourself getting up from your chair and moving to the other side of the room.
  3. By doing this you are “disassociating” yourself and can talk yourself down. From that place on the other side of the room give yourself words of encouragement like:

“you can do this, it’s ok-you are strong and powerful. Just breathe.”

4. If you need further support imagine a mentor or role model touching you behind your back or on your shoulders and what are they whispering in your ear. What is their take or input in this situation?

5. If you look up you will access visuals in your mind, while if you look down you are accessing feelings and making yourself feel worse.

Please note:

Emotions are simply your mind and body’s way of saying to you. This is really important to you. Or this core value of yours is being disrespected. If you notice what makes you feel emotional(no matter what that emotion is), ask yourself what is really important to you right now, that is being triggered. And could you calm myself down-to rather solve this problem or value clash with the other party.

If we ride out emotions in front of colleagues, or clients and don’t stop ourselves from emotionally (jumping down the bridge)-this is where contracts get cancelled, people lose respect and you are not seen as a professional. You need to find ways of snapping yourself out of your Reptillian brain. I wrote an article about this for Entrepreneur magazine that can be very helpful.

4. Have a healthy debate

So many of the women in this course tended to stay away from conflict and would rather keep quiet than confront someone.

Dr. John Gottman calls this act of keeping quiet Stonewalling. In most of my Emotional intelligence training, almost 1/3 or 2/3’s of people stonewalls. But what ends up happening is:

  • You are exerting your power by not resolving the conflict.
  • By not talking about it. It leads to anger and frustration for everyone involved.
  • Prolonged stonewalling allows a breakdown in relationships, marriages, and business relationships.
  • If you can have the courage to rather have a meeting with someone and tell them what you are upset about. So that they can know and do something about it. You will move your relationship forward, rather than breaking it down by Stonewalling.

Patrick Lencioni in his book 5 dysfunctions of a team speaks about the need for having a healthy debate. And I hope that you will rather want your teams to problem-solve and come up with solutions rather than keeping quiet and not stirring the pot.

5. Other topics they really enjoyed were:

  • Practical negotiation skills
  • Developing their career development plan
  • Understanding their Strengths, limiters and deciding on an action plan
  • Coaching skills
  • Networking and dealing with Power and Office politics.
  • Becoming a leader and an ideal team player

This course can be offered online all over the world, but you are welcome to book an in-house live session for your team. Contact us at to set up a call if you want to look at developing your Women in leadership.