Now you're a councillor

Now you're a councillor

A site for women councillors in Victorian local government

Woman power is about finding balance…

The late Joan Kirner AC (June 1938-June2015) was Victoria’s first woman premier and had a well deserved reputation as a powerful advocate for women’s place in politics.  “Everyone has a share of power, and if you don’t use your share, others will use it for you!” was how Joan saw things.

Joan wrote a book with Moira Rayner called The Women’s Power Handbook (1999).  It remains a relevant ‘bedside bible’ for women wanting to know how power works.  A central idea is about each woman leader finding her own balance through:

  • Being centred.

This is a shorthand for being clear about what you want and why, who you are, and who you value.  People respond to clarity and vision. This does not mean becoming egotistical and or big headed.  It is not tied to a particular job either.

  • Self-confidence.  This is an essential prerequisite.  You have to believe that you can effect change, that you have the ability, the right to try, and the will.  You must believe that you are worthy of power.  Self-confidence is the key.
  • Understanding the three levels of power:

1. Power over yourself (self-discipline, self-possession, steadiness under fire)
2. Power to influence others (persuasion, example, encouragement)
3. Power to communicate and act as part of a group (political power)

  • Working your way up.  You can’t become Prime Minister overnight.  You shouldn’t try to take your first political action at the top.  Start at the level just about where you feel comfortable, and the likelihood that you’ll feel effective after you’ve done it will be stronger.

Claiming your personal power is essential if you are to have any political power.  Starting where you feel comfortable, you can actually make a difference.

  • Not being afraid of power.  Women need to be willing to claim political power – whether at work, in ‘real politics’, or in the community.  Women should not be deterred by those who say that they are selfish or are asking for special privileges.  Nor should women be jealous or possessive about power.  A lot of women say ‘We don’t want to be political.’  But by that very argument they are being political.  They’re handing their small piece of power as a person, and a citizen, to someone else.
  • Getting beyond wanting approval.  By definition, ‘nice’ girls have only personal power.  They depend on other people to do the things they want, to achieve their desires for them. But this is seldom effective.  Powerful women make their own decisions; they have independent opinions and express them freely; and they act positively to get what they want for themselves and others.