The Power of Influence: Women Empowering Each Other


I sat in dismay last night as I watched the news and saw women being brutally beaten by authorities in Cairo, Egypt. The one thing that transferred my anger and sadness into strength and a sense of empowerment was seeing the many women who joined together in marching and protesting against such injustice and senseless violence. Witnessing their strength in a time when the expectation of others might be to run and hide caused me to experience an indescribable feeling of connectedness and power although we were thousands of miles apart.

We all know that there are many types of power and have probably had the misfortune of seeing power misused and abused. Power, in the case of the violent authority figures in Cairo, was coercion. The use of billy clubs, kicks, and threats of rape were how they chose to express it.  The women in the march/protest chose to exercise personal influence power–the act of extending one’s influence by building coalitions and developing informal relationships (as noted by Dr. James Appleton in Exceptional Senior Student Affairs Administrators’ Leadership, 2011). This impactful demonstration of influence power became a force to be reckoned with! These women chose not to stand by idly and wait for someone else to come to their rescue. In the words of Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, “the phone was ringing,” and these women chose to answer the call!

Attending the Women’s Leadership Institute earlier this month reminded me of the importance of personal influence power and how it is expressed by women through sheer connectedness and genuine care. This connectedness  is more than just “knowing of” or simply being aware of another person. It is holding and sharing a sense of responsibility and accountability for that individual  especially as it relates to their success and well-being. It is a selfless form of giving.  It is what was often referred to as the “sister/girlfriend” connection at WLI 11!

Because of this conference, I feel more renewed and assured by the influence power that I possess. It has sparked new declarations as it relates to my career goals and aspirations.  It has caused me to reframe the purpose of  my interactions and remember the women whose shoulders I stand on today. I  have expanded my network of sister/girlfriends who I cheer on enthusiastically, and they do the same for me. It has reminded me of the work that must continue throughout this journey, and for this,  I am forever grateful.

Cynthia Polk-Johnson

Bethune-Cookman University, Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students

Connect with Cynthia on twitter: @PolkJohnson



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Robyn Kaplan on December 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Wonderful reflection – so glad to have connected with you at WLI!


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