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Metamorphosis: the initiation process of Empowerment

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Categories: leadership, women


To eradicate your own defects can be dangerous. You never know which defect is holding up the whole building. (Clarice Lispector, Brazilian writer)

Business transformation is a very trendy topic amongst managers now, right? There is a lot being said about focusing on people, human interactions, mindset change, diverse teams, participative management, collaboration, etc. to promote the so-called transformation. One thing they all have in common is assuming everyone is empowered enough to take the first step into the unknown, break barriers, and lead others. Well, we know it is not true.

Empowerment necessarily goes through self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-criticism. It is a process of discovering, learning, and understanding one’s own SWOT matrix and it could be a very dangerous path if taken alone. Having alongside someone who has already gone down that road or someone who is so self-assure that can serve as a reference for you to know where to go back to, if need be, can make this journey a lot more pleasant and even fruitful. This is what we project managers do for business transformation, and it is not different when the process is of personal transformation.

Yes, empowerment is a personal transformation and, although it is full of “self” processes, it achieves better results if orchestrated with those around you. We all know the comfort of a “me too!” and the power of a “you’re not alone”. We know. Look around you. These people sitting next to you every five days of the week are probably subject to the same influences that are mining your self-esteem. Those rumours, the interruptions during the meetings, that stolen idea, the underestimation of your competencies, second guessing your opinions, the sex jokes, the lustful eyes, the touchy colleague, the inappropriate boss, the sexual harassment… If you do not relate to most of these examples, well, then you are probably a guy.

One is not born, but rather become, a woman”. That’s Simone de Beauvoir. She was not talking about gender identity there, that is a more profound sense and understanding of your feminine condition. Those examples? Yes, they are a way to make us women remember “our place”. The thing is: it is a very powerful place, once you understand what makes you a woman, which might not be easy if you try to do it alone. Embracing that place as the core of your being – that is empowerment. Talk to your girl peers. Share. Collaborate. Soon you will also learn the value of women coming together. And that is what is called sisterhood.

Sisterhood is a force. Once a woman connects to this feeling, there is absolutely nothing that will bring her down. Now imagine one woman holding the hand of another women, holding the hand of a third and so on, you will have a network of unbreakable women and here is when the transformation begins. Quoting Franz Kafka, “from a certain point onwards there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached”.

Empowered women can do anything, and sisterhood can be a powerful source for social transformation. But I guess this will be the topic for another conversation. Oh, and business transformation? Yeah, that’s a piece of cake.


--- Español

Metamorfosis: el proceso de iniciación del Empoderamiento

Erradicar tus propios defectos puede ser peligroso. Nunca se sabe qué defecto está sosteniendo todo el edificio. (Clarice Lispector, escritora brasileña)


La transformación del negocio es un tema muy de moda entre los gerentes ahora, ¿verdad? Se dice mucho sobre el enfoque en las personas, las interacciones humanas, el cambio de mentalidad, los equipos diversos, la gestión participativa, la colaboración, etc. para promover la llamada transformación. Una cosa que todos tienen en común es asumir que tienen el poder suficiente para dar el primer paso hacia lo desconocido, romper barreras y liderar a otros. Bueno, sabemos que no es cierto.

El empoderamiento necesariamente pasa por el conocimiento de sí mismo, la autoconciencia, la autocrítica. Es un proceso de descubrir, aprender y comprender la propia matriz FODA y podría ser un camino muy peligroso si uno lo toma solo. Tener al lado a alguien que ya haya recorrido ese camino o alguien que sea tan seguro de sí mismo que pueda servirle como referencia para que sepa dónde regresar, si es necesario, puede hacer que este viaje sea mucho más placentero e incluso fructífero. Esto es lo que hacemos los gerentes de proyectos para la transformación del negocio, y no es diferente cuando el proceso es de transformación personal.

Sí, el empoderamiento es una transformación personal y, aunque está lleno de procesos "propios", logra mejores resultados si se organiza con quienes te rodean. Todos conocemos el alivio de un "yo también" y el poder de un "no estás solo". Lo sabemos. Mira a tu alrededor. Estas personas sentadas a tu lado cinco días a la semana probablemente estén sujetas a las mismas influencias que minan tu autoestima. Los rumores, las interrupciones durante las reuniones, la idea robada, la subestimación de sus competencias, el cuestionamiento de sus opiniones, las bromas sexuales, los ojos lujuriosos, el colega “demasiado afectuoso”, el jefe desubicado, el acoso sexual ... Si estos ejemplos no te son familiares, bueno, entonces probablemente eres hombre.

"Uno no nace, sino que se convierte en mujer", dijo Simone de Beauvoir. Ella no hablaba de identidad de género sino de un sentido más profundo y una mayor comprensión de su condición femenina. ¿Esos ejemplos? Sí, son una forma de hacernos recordar a las mujeres "nuestro lugar". La cuestión es que una vez que entiendes lo que te convierte en mujer, lo cual no sería fácil si tratas de hacerlo sola, alcanzas un lugar muy poderoso. Abrazar ese lugar como el núcleo de tu ser, eso es empoderamiento. Habla con tus amigas mujeres. Comparte. Colabora. Pronto también aprenderán el valor de la unión entre mujeres. Y eso es lo que se llama hermandad.

La hermandad es una fuerza. Una vez que una mujer se conecta con este sentimiento no hay absolutamente nada que la derribe. Ahora imagina a una mujer sosteniendo la mano de otra mujer, sosteniendo la mano de una tercera, y así sucesivamente tendrás una red de mujeres inquebrantables y aquí es cuando comienza la transformación. Citando a Franz Kafka, “a partir de cierto punto ya no hay vuelta atrás. Ese es el punto que hay que alcanzar”.

Las mujeres empoderadas pueden hacer cualquier cosa, y la hermandad puede ser una fuente poderosa para la transformación social. Pero supongo que éste será el tema de otra conversación.  ¿Y la transformación del negocio? Sí, eso es sencillo.

Posted by Vanessa Guimarães on: October 28, 2018 12:50 PM | Permalink

Comments (19)

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Congratulations Vanessa Guimarães for the excellent article and for always being in defense of equal conditions for all project professionals.

Thanks for sharing; An english version of the same would be of great help

Very interesting, thanks for sharing

Vanessa, good article although you go to the extreme by touching on very sensitive subjects. Equality is important but with your view, you are calling for an unbreakable circle of women alone. Why not for example, one woman holding the hand of her man colleague and so on so there is a circle of unbreakable equality and familyhood ?

Rajesh, I think she did. The first part is in English so not sure what you are referring to.

Congrats Vanessa! Great article!

Because a "network of unbreakable women" is what is needed for the network of unbreakable men right? Result: a network of breakable families and society. I think we should ease up on the rhetoric and just get on better :-)

Very interesting...

If you can only envision a network of unbreakable women as an opposing --and destructive--force to a network of unbreakable men, then I would suggest following the authors' previous posts with recommendations for having honest conversations with the women in your organization.

An unbreakable network of women does not have to be perceived as a threat. An unbreakable network of women could be considered a community, a safe space to try out innovative and collaborative ideas and actions that push the boundaries of risk tolerance in an organization.

An unbreakable network of women can amplify the voice of a single woman. Surely, that is more efficient than waiting for a man to invite the woman to come hold his hand so her voice can be heard. And definitely more effective than having the man "speak up" for the woman, because then he becomes the mouthpiece for all her un-voiced thoughts.

Families, and communities, and lives are birthed and built and sustained by unbreakable networks of women. Whole societal movements are forwarded by unbreakable networks of women. And those movements can be reinforced when those networks of men and women move collectively together.

To suggest that women coming together to move into that unbreakable network of men they see at their organization is counterproductive or destructive suggests a desire for more incremental change. But when I read this blog post, and the other similar ones on, I'm convinced that what is needed is something a bit more radical than that.

Something radical like an unbreakable network of women.

Thanks for your comment Romiya!
I agree 100% with you!

Thanks for your comment Romiya!
I agree 100% with you!

As the author, I didn't feel like discussing the article on the comments - and I will not -, but I was waiting for someone to come forward and explain the real meaning under my message.

Romiya, you totally nailed it!

Thank you for your spot-on words.

Good point. Diversity of opinion is everything after all :-)

Thank you very much to everyone for your contribution to the goal of having a wide range of opinions. All this enriches the exchange of ideas and allows us to make these issues available to a greater number of people, in different areas.

We give our authors total freedom to express themselves, and the same applies without a doubt to anyone who wants to participate in this blog.

Let's continue on this way!

Thank you Vanessa for confirming my interpretation of your article is appropriate. And thank you Sante for being open to my interpretation. :)

I agree, Marcela, that freedom to express ourselves is important to the discourse of this topic!

Yes, some of the topics are sensitive because not all women or men think and behave the same, at the end we are all individuals and it’s not helping the dialogue to assume that women or men interpret things only one way.
But I’m very happy to bring the topics on the light and see where we need more awareness and discussion. Isn’t it actually part of the PMBOK that conflicts are good?

Well said Lenka. Conflict keeps the brain active. Healthy conflict that is. I include debate and diverse opinions in that category.

Thanks for sharing this information!

Yes women have to be more assertive and influential in a positive and constructive way. Women are mostly visualised as threat when we only encroach our boundaries, however some boundaries have to encroached!

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