How to Build on the Momentum of the Women’s March

In my last post, I challenged readers to make 2017 the Year of the Woman. Last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington—and hundreds of Sister Marches around the world—show that we’re starting off the year in exactly that direction.


The marches collectively brought millions of women together in solidarity and empowerment. The mission of the Women’s March is for women to “stand together with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families—recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

The Women’s Marches are a wonderful first step in exactly the right direction. Now it’s up to all of us to figure out how to harness this energy and channel it toward realizing the vision of this growing women-led movement. These goals include, as the organizers noted, not resting “until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society.”

To help us get there, I’d like to suggest two strategies that I explore in detail in my latest book, Make Room for Her: leveraging your personal and organizational power.

Leverage your personal power. One of the most critical things you can do to help advance your own career is to “show up” as ready to take on a role in senior leadership. To move into an executive position and succeed once you get there, it is essential to be ready to step into the role of a powerful person. Power leads to possibility, whether you want to impact decisions on a broader level, create shifts in corporate culture, motivate others, or influence large-scale change initiatives.

In conducting research for my book, I discovered that women often have misconceptions about power. Some believe it to be solely connected to a specific title, and thus assume it doesn’t apply to them in their current position. But when you don’t understand what power really is or how to leverage it, this lack of awareness can keep you from having influence—and from even being heard at the table. If you don’t know you have power, you can’t summon it to help you achieve your goals.

I believe that your personal power comes from four sources:

  • Knowledge base—having others recognize you for your thought leadership.
  • Leadership persona—how you affect others through your presence and general style of interaction.
  • Level of resilience—how well you can bounce back from change and failure.
  • Communication style—how effectively you present your ideas, opinions, and arguments.

Each of these four areas is within your own control. Use this awareness to begin building your personal power base.

Leverage your organizational power. Effective use of your organizational power involves understanding how to leverage four key areas:

  • Role, position, title—you can enhance your power by recognizing the value of your position and continually reinventing yourself.
  • Control and allocation of resources—people are your best resource, so you can enhance your power by developing your team members and finding innovative ways they can visibly impact the business.
  • Breadth/depth of network—you can develop a plan to be intentional and purposeful in expanding your professional network through strategic affiliations and alliances.
  • Reputation at work—this is about trust and credibility, which can be built by developing your personal brand to enhance your power.

Like many people across the globe, I was inspired by women’s show of empowerment through the Women’s Marches. Now let’s take that momentum and build on it by finding ways to tap into these eight dimensions of personal and organizational power within your own career and organization.

Rebecca is an internationally acclaimed and sought-after keynote speaker, leadership expert and contributing editor for Harvard Business Review and the Huffington Post.

Learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s leadership solutions and how they can build and sustain gender balance across your organization. Accelerate your female talent through SHAMBAUGH’s customized In-House Leadership Programs for women and our signature Women in Leadership and Learning (WILL) Program. For more information visit:

Rebecca is author of the best-selling books It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky FloorLeadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton, and Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results.


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Rebecca Shambaugh

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