How Women Lose Power and What They Should Do

A lot has changed today, especially for women: they are no longer confined to the limits of the home and tasks and jobs that are “meant” for women, and like their male counterparts, they can climb up their respective career ladders just the same. Now, the problem many women face is not really acquiring power; rather, it is maintaining it. And while there are factors that are out of your control, there are also things that you can change and work on for yourself, in an effort to keep that power and respect that you have. Here are ways women lose power and what you can do about it.

Failing to see your worth

Many women tend to rely on their hard work and perseverance to be recognized, but the truth is, at times, these are simply not enough. As a result, others who are rather more vocal about their selves tend to get the recognition, even though you may have contributed more. The thing is that the way you see your value is also projected in how others see you. No matter how good you are at what you do and how deserving you are of great credit and reward, you will remain unnoticed if you do not recognize how truly worthy you are.

What you should do: It is understandable that many find the idea of self-promotion uncomfortable, and while this discomfort is often not unfounded, that does not mean that there is no case where it is actually acceptable to do so. In fact, there is also a need to do so. The hard reality is that workplaces are usually competitive, and naturally, nobody else cares about your career as much as you do. This is mainly because others are also busy working their own way up.

Having a habit of over-apologizing

It is not merely a stereotype: women actually do apologize for way more than men do. Most of the times, they even say sorry for things they should not be sorry about. One search in Google would show you countless articles that tell you of the things women apologize for – asking for some direction, following up an order that the waiter kept on forgetting, and bumping into someone who even spilled a drink on you.

This is not to say that women are actually sorry for those things. It seems that women have developed some kind of habit of using the word “sorry” in place of other phrases and words we actually are thinking of. It’s easy to say that nothing wrong with that, right? It’s just a word, after all. But the thing is, it does affect how other people perceive you. Instead of being seen as likable, it gives off an aura being unsure and even defensiveness, two qualities that are not exactly good in relation to power, authority, and leadership.

What you should do: Don’t get us wrong here; it is good to say sorry when it is due. Doing so shows that no matter what position you are in or how great the power and authority you acquire, you are humble enough to admit and take responsibility for your faults and mistakes. The key, therefore, is to know when and when not to apologize.

How Women Lose Power and What They Should Do

Letting other people take credit for your work

You have probably encountered that coworker who hogs all the credit after a successful project; probably almost every workplace has at least one. And there are women who let them do it anyway, at times, without realizing the consequences it has on your overall image and career in general.

What you should do: If you are aiming to be an effective leader whom your subordinates would respect and follow, you better start learning to stand up for yourself. Speak out and let yourself be recognized for your ideas. What would be better is to be able to do it in a classy, non-aggressive way. For instance, you can express your gratitude for appreciating and using your idea.

The use of weak, minimizing language

Do you notice yourself constantly trying to soften your words when speaking to your subordinates? Do you usually make use of the words “just”? As much as many like an overly nice boss, it would take a toll on your leadership and image at work when you try to be too likable. You might think that they are just words; however, whether unconsciously or consciously, your choice of words impact not only their effectivity but also the way your coworkers perceive you. If you want to be seen as a strong-willed leader, you have to accept that you will not be able to please everyone.

What you should do: Learn to be more assertive, even when it comes to your words. That does not justify being cocky, bossy, or simply mean, of course. You can start by minimizing the use of “just” and utilize words like “I think”, “I expect”, and “you should” in place of it.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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