AMA Playbook presents a week-long series celebrating workplace equality, exploring the challenges, obstacles and frustrations faced—and overcome—by businesswomen. The series will run through Women’s Equality Day on August 26.
We recently sat down with Anese Cavanaugh, creator of the IEP Method® (Intentional Energetic Presence), active entrepreneur, advisor, author, movement maker, and speaker for the last 14 years.
How do your leadership programs empower women in particular to become their best selves?
I start with the idea that you’re fantastic just as you are and that all of this work is about optimization. Sure, you may have a leadership style, a presence, or some behaviors that are getting in the way of you having the best impact possible, but those are all remediable.
To give people a solid, grounded base for Showing Up well, we start with the “Essential You,” which is about core values, purpose, vision, and authentic self. We also do work on optimizing their IEP® (Intentional Energetic Presence), and holding their “energetic space”– so they can be truly present for themselves and others and better equipped to deal with all the moving pieces. We humans can get so “busy” and move so fast that we forget about this magic “space” that’s an untapped leadership superpower.
When we reconnect with the Essential You and what drives us, we have deeper access to a fuel source of purpose and clarity that makes it easier to say “yes” and “no” to the right things. It also becomes easier to stand powerfully for what we want and what we’re creating. A woman tuned in, turned on, clear, and on purpose is an unstoppable force.
What issues have your female clients brought to your attention that caught you by surprise?
First, I’m always surprised and delighted by how incredibly human and similar we all are in what we bump up against, regardless our position, financial status, family status, sex, etc. I used to be surprised by amazing women experiencing their own version of “Impostor Syndrome.” But over the years I’ve realized it’s something that most humans deal with on some level and can be navigated through awareness and self-management.
Aside from that, common themes I see in terms of “issues” are a lack of time for self-care (which is essential), this epidemic of “busy” (which is trashing and exhausting our culture — and ironically totally unproductive), and more recently, I’ve seen an increase in some of the challenging dynamics in relationships with women and their partners as they grow and step into bigger things.
A pleasant surprise (which is really NOT a surprise) Women who take care of themselves, focus on impact, stay true to themselves and Show Up— instead of getting stuck looking at what opportunities are not available to them, who’s holding them back, or being distracted by some of the cultural stories about men vs. women, working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, work-life balance, etc.—they rock it out, enjoy the journey a lot more, and ultimately have great impact.
Do you feel organizations are doing enough to create equal opportunities for both men and women to advance?
Yes and no, holding that this is a very beautiful two-way street. On one side, as organizations (who are basically the people) we have to pay attention to what kind of impact we want to have, and what kinds of opportunities we need to make space for to have that kind of impact. Decide what “equal opportunity” even means to us, what beliefs are driving our organizational systems and pathways for growth, and what kind of a growth culture we’re creating—intentionally or not.
On the other side of that street, we have to look at ourselves individually (and together) in how we’re stepping up, creating our own opportunities, focusing on the right things, contributing to helping the organization grow, and creating impact and results together.
How can organizations create a supportive environment for women? Why do you feel this has been an ongoing issue?
The clearer and more intentional you can be about the kind of culture you want to have—and why—the clearer your next steps are for creating that environment.
Here are some places to look: What is the experience and feeling you want your people (and your customers and clients) to have? How do you want your people to talk about your organization and culture when they go home at night? What do you want your legacy and story to be? How productive do you want people to be, and what do they need? What things, ideas, principles, structures, do you need to put in place to make all of the above come true?
When an entire organization considers this and gets intentional—great. But in the meantime, these are questions we can ask ourselves personally: Am I Showing Up in a way that will contribute to making things better, or worse? Am I Showing Up in a way that will help create the culture and environment I want to have? How am I Showing Up? When we ask these questions together as an organization, we can create a more sustainable, authentic, and healthy, contagious culture.
Looking for a training program customized to your needs? Explore AMA's range of leadership resources specifically designed for businesswomen.