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Posted: February 14, 2011

She’s got clout

....and she knows how to use it

Liz Wendling

Nowhere have women made larger strides in recent years than in the business world. I don't know about you but I'm tired of the stereotypical portrayal of women - that we are fearful, have no clout, can't say no and wish only for life balance. I'm appalled at articles that claim women are indecisive, invisible and can't ask for a raise.

It's time to acknowledge that many women are assertive without being abrasive, know how to stand up and promote ideas and prefer a stimulating life to a balanced one. We get bored if our plate isn't full of new and exciting challenges. We're comfortable with power and clout, though our definition might differ from the male stereotype of taking command. Our greatest wish is that people would stop questioning our decisions and just get on board with our ideas. We're different, and so are our needs, wants and challenges.

If you're a man reading this article, my intention is not to offend you, it's simply to recognize and celebrate women in the workplace. I hope you join me in the celebration.

Clout is a powerful weapon in your arsenal. If only women were better at wielding it! The dictionary defines clout as "influence or power," but it's really both. Clout is a richly deserved by- product of talent, good judgment and hard work. It's also the most misunderstood and misused weapon. Having clout is only half the battle. It must be used and invested wisely and with integrity. If you do this right, more clout will come your way.

We are smart, talented, driven and exceptional in many ways, but if we want to keep climbing that corporate ladder, we need to know how to show up with power and confidence so that others know that we're around and we're not going anywhere.

Evidence of women's growing clout in the workforce is on display each year at the annual ATHENA Awards. In an annual survey, ATHENA found that its members generated an average of 76 percent of their household income, despite the fact that the vast majority were married. A study last year found that 80 percent of Athena members made more money than their spouse or significant other.

The Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce honors Denver women entrepreneurs with The ATHENA Award. The award is given to women who best exemplify exceptional professional achievement, devotion to community service and generosity in assisting other women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. The CWCC celebrates great women who are accomplishing great things. Also, a big nod goes to CoBiz Magazine, where each year they award and celebrate the top 100 women owned businesses. CoBiz Magazine honors and recognizes great business women in Colorado who have clout and are accomplishing great things in the workplace.

In achieving these workplace advancements, women have gained clout through "soft power" - the ability to influence or lead through persuasion or attraction, by convincing people rather than coercing them. Women are more inclined than men to use soft power through tools such as dialogue and engagement, rather than using aggression, pressure or exclusion. Women are excellent mediators and great networkers, and they place more value on building relationships than do men. This is not, repeat, not an article to take a jab at men, just pointing out some common and well known facts. Celebrating smart women in Colorado was my only intention.

The current environment makes it imperative to recognize the unique characteristics female executives, business owners and entrepreneurs possess and encourage women to bring about a much-needed transformation in business.

Women are stepping forward as never before. They're becoming leaders, business strategists, risk-takers and entrepreneurs and hundreds more. It's our time, let's take it. Go here for more information on the Chamber or ATHENA.
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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

Go to: www.lizwendling.com or email Liz@lizwendling.com

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Some of the best business people I have worked with have been women and I have learn much from them. I do think that many times women are abrasive though because they think that is how they need to be in order to be successful in the business world. In general though, men can learn a lot by watching women build business relationships. By MIke Webb - Alinco IT on 2011 02 22
Liz, Great article. I agree with you and I'm not offened at all. For years successful men have learn had to be assertive without being abrasive. As a rule, women have always been better about building business relationships, Which is something I had to improve on. Some men in my generation misunderstand a woman being assertive as something more that just good professional business. That is why the woman has to be clear. Keith By kevin on 2011 02 14
Great article, Liz. At the WomensVision Foundation, wew talk about the difference between "power with" and "power over." I believe strongly in the value of listening tonyou head, heart and gut when making decisions. The only point I'd question is the idea of choosing "stimulating" over "balanced". I don't believe in the assumption that balance means we're not working hard, or that we aren't extremely busy. For me, balance means allocating my time and energy to the variety of things that are important to me - my work, my health and well-being, my family and my community. My experience in each of these spheres makes me better at the others. I don't have a lot of free time, but my days are full of rewarding experiences that give me energy and enrich my life. Thanks for such a positive viewpoint! By Monica Hahn on 2011 02 14
I agree! Women have made great strides in the corporate world. The next step is to make the leap in building businesses. Many women are entrepreneurs, but a lopsided number are sole proprietors or are small businesses. Men continue to take the risks to build a growth company and it is rare when I run into a woman in the VC world much less one chasing dollars. Taking huge risks isn't in our nature, but I think it can be developed over time. By Michelle on 2011 02 14

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