“When you realize you are an eagle, don’t eat the chickens.”
Jill “J.R.” Labbe, Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs
JPS Health Network
I recently heard an extraordinary panel of women leaders in our community at the Women in Leadership Symposium at Texas Christian University. Their comments, though I am sure that some of them would disagree, pointed to a conclusion that I have reached over a 30 year career in Corporate America and an equally active participation in my community. Not everyone is chosen to lead. I realize that this is not a politically correct statement. I hear regularly, “Everyone leads somewhere – in their home, office or community.” I am coming to the conclusion that this is not true. Some are destined to lead and some are not. My observation is that, if you are one who is destined to lead, you won’t like that statement. It strikes you as elitist. Who am I to decide who is to lead? If you are not destined to lead, my observation is that – though you may voice some muted opposition – you are actually relieved to learn that it is not you.
By the way, it has nothing to do with your demographics. Leaders come in all shapes, sizes and colors. If you are one, you already know it. If you aren’t, you have other gifts that are equally important. If you are one, no one can stop you – except yourself. However, if you are one, you are chosen for a unique responsibility. It is both exhilarating and exhausting.
It devolves to the leader to make the way for everyone else. For women leaders, this is particularly tough. You will have to make the hard choices. You will have to be the one who carves out the time and space to make a difference. You will have to be the one to reach a high enough place in the company/organization/community to say,
- “We will work sane hours.”
- “We will allow flexibility for families.”
- “We will advance on merit and potential.”
- “We will pay a fair wage.”
It does not work if, having reached the place of influence, you say, “I worked hard to get here. The women behind me will have to do the same.” That thinking will never change the world. “When you find out you are an eagle, don’t eat the chickens.” It is your job to change the world in which we live. You must “Lean In” to borrow a phrase from Sheryl Sandberg. No one else can do your part.
It was for this destiny you were called. You know who you are. Will you accept it?
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