Susan Patton: One More Reason the World Needs Your Leadership

The world loves a provocateur, even if that person says some pretty messed up things about rape and in so doing, helps perpetuate rape culture.Susan Patton, a life coach turned author who has written a book presumably for young women who are terrified of not finding a husband (or who like the idea of turning love and marriage into a project) is making the rounds to promote her book, Marry Smart. And the media is eating it up.Image via Okano, Flickr Creative CommonsPatton makes me crazy not because of what Patton says she believes is important to her and should be important to straight young women. If you want to be hell bent on finding a husband instead of living your life while making room for love and making real human connections, fine by me. If you want to advise other women to do the same, that’s fine, too. But it’s a problem when you put the responsibility on women to make sure they don’t go and get themselves raped. It’s a problem when you make the world more dangerous for women. And our culture, the world, our businesses/organizations have a big problem when they give Patton a microphone because they want more reads, views, shares, whatever.But here’s how Patton is useful. She says herself that she is “just being authentic.” And she’s a reminder why the world needs more authentic leaders. People who come out strong saying what they mean, doing what they mean, modeling other ways of being in the world that DO NOT perpetuate rape culture and instead, advocate for women or very simply, RESPECT WOMEN. If Susan Patton is going to go and be her authentic leader-influencer-self, we really need to go be our authentic selves also—in our work/activism and in the world. (If anything, just to balance out her harmful rhetoric).This whole Patton thing is a reminder, too, that authenticity is not just something we have or are. It’s something we do. Authentic leadership is about the contribution we make in our organizations and communities, and the larger culture. And we have options. We can make a contribution like Patton’s… We can choose to be quiet on the issues that matter most to us… Or, whatever our work is, whether our work directly benefits women or not, we can choose to contribute what we have to offer, knowing that we collectively create the culture we live in and pass on to our children.Let Patton be motivation for the rest of us to do our own work in bigger, bolder, or more authentic ways. And shame on Today and New York Magazine for giving Patton a platform, and in the case of New York Magazine, propping her up as an example of one glamorous, powerful broad.And if you’re a young woman looking for advice that isn’t Susan’s, here’s a great piece on life and love in your 20s and beyond by the very funny Tracy Clark-Flory, who says she “did everything the Susan Pattons of the world said not to do and [ended up] marrying a freaking wonderful man — not despite disobeying these retro rules, but because of it.”Interested in learning more? Join me for one of two webcasts, May 1st or June 26th to talk authentic leadership, influence, and power. You’ll leave with a new understanding of the difference between the three and learn how you can use principles of authentic leadership to advance your career or move your projects forward, whatever your field. This will be a highly interactive discussion. Join us!

Read more posts by Lex Schroeder.