Why Take The Lead Matters To Me On #GivingTuesday And Beyond
“To love what you do and feel that it matters, how can anything be more fun?”
That quote is attributed to Katharine Graham, the late chairman of the board and publisher of The Washington Post, more recently portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2017 film “The Post.”
I would have to agree with Graham. In nearly three years as editorial director at Take The Lead, enjoying the work and feeling it has true purpose, does make it fun.
Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, models the possibilities of what can happen when one person chooses to use her power to create big change in the world. For Take The Lead, that is a specific mission of gender parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025. Seven years to go, each of us has to get into action.
At Take The Lead, intentional contributions to the conversation create change in the workplace and beyond by illuminating the lessons from the leaders and making their stories accessible.
As editorial director, reporting and writing nearly 500 blog posts, conducting hundreds of interviews and producing 142 weekly Take The Lead newsletters demonstrates that connecting to the mission of an organization makes the efforts feel worthwhile.
Writing about women leading in the C-suite, the outdoors, space, science, fashion, retail, banking, philanthropy, fintech, cryptocurrency, medicine, law, film, journalism, television, sports, healthcare and so many more fields offers immediately useful lessons. And the information is fresh each time.
These leaders offer insight about empathy, ambition, tolerance, diversity, inclusion, fairness, kindness, humility, leadership and mistakes. Every story is an opportunity to connect Take The Lead’s audience to popular culture, new research, breaking news, trends and possibilities.
The infrastructure of Take The Lead is upheld by the pillars to Prepare, Develop, Inspire and Propel women into leadership positions. This is accomplished by transforming their relationship to power, by shifting the concept of having power “over” something to owning the power “to” accomplish a goal, or affect change.
The goals of Take The Lead are real, doable and they are authentically connected to the organization, its mission and its team. For many, a mission in your professional life creates deep meaning.
In a new study from the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Americans surveyed said family mattered the most to them in their lives. More than 34 percent said their career mattered.
“But after family, Americans mention a plethora of sources (in the open-ended question) from which they derive meaning and satisfaction: One-third bring up their career or job, nearly a quarter mention finances or money, and one-in-five cite their religious faith, friendships, or various hobbies and activities.”
Work takes up most of our waking hours and having a longer view of what you do with your work life makes it more enjoyable.
Author Annie Dillard wrote in “The Writing Life,” “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”
Take The Lead is how the Take The Lead team of leaders, movers, shakers and doers spends our days.
In a new piece for Harvard Business Review, authors Shawn Achor, Andrew Reece, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Alexi Robichaux write, “Meaningful work only has upsides. Employees work harder and quit less, and they gravitate to supportive work cultures that help them grow. The value of meaning to both individual employees, and to organizations, stands waiting, ready to be captured by organizations prepared to act.”
They concluded this from their recent Meaning and Purpose at Work report. “More than 9 out of 10 employees, we found, are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it,” they write.
As a part of the Take The Lead team, it is difficult to separate the mission from the 9 Leadership Power Tools created by Feldt and used in the leadership programs, including the expanding realms of 50 Women Can Change The World in the areas of nonprofit and community leadership, human resources, journalism, healthcare, finance, media and entertainment and more.
All these programs focus on changing the narrative. According to Feldt, “We change the focus from obsession with problems to shining a laser beam on the solutions—what is working to advance women toward parity, including internal and external thought leadership.”
Take The Lead offers solutions with a rubric of 9 Leadership Power Tools.
The first, Know your History, speaks directly to me as a journalist, because knowing your history is essential. With that, “you can create the future of your choice,” says Feldt.
The fourth Leadership Power Tool, “Embrace Controversy” speaks to my professional ambitions. As Feldt asserts, “It gives you a platform. Nudges you to clarity. It’s your teacher, your source of strength, your friend, especially if you are trying to make a change.”
Writing for newspapers, magazines, digital sites and books on issues related to gender, leadership, popular culture, politics and more for nearly four decades has taught me what I do want to write about and what I enjoy.
The final power tool aligns with the umbrella mission of my life as a storyteller and truthteller across platforms. “Tell Your Story.” As Feldt explains, “Your story is your truth. Your truth is your power. Telling your story authentically helps you lead (not follow) your dreams and have an unlimited life.”
Take The Lead honors the stories of every woman leader who dares to channel her power to change her life and the world we live in. This #GivingTuesday, please join me in giving back. Please do so on the Take The Lead Facebook Fundraising page.
We have more work to do together.
Back to my inspiration. As most all things in life come full circle, according to Quote Investigator, Katharine Graham said that line about loving what you do to journalist Jane Howard in an October, 1974 profile of her in Ms. Magazine.
Gloria Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1972, and Steinem is at the heart of the December 15 Take The Lead special fundraiser that includes a performance of “Gloria: A Life” and a live discussion with Steinem.
How could anything be more fun?
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com