The One Thing Griselda Blanco Had That All Women Need to "Lean In" and Win


This post is part of Monday Musings, a series of reflective blog posts on professional growing pains from a millennial perspective. Griselda Blanco is the perfect example of how a woman leader leans in. So you're probably on this page like "Let me get this straight Emmelie, you want to talk about how the cocaine godmother and the queen of drug trafficking found work-life balance? I gotta hear this one.." But hear me out for a minute. While I was doing my weekly catch up session with my dear friend Cristine, we were sharing our addiction for the soap opera or novela which is capturing Spanish-language audiences. As we were commenting about the latest episode, I mention " I can't believe she's killing men and moving coke, with a baby on her arm." Christine replies, "Lean in on that!" and thus this post was born.

This post isn't to glorify the Colombian drug dealer and murderer, but rather shedding light on the new kinds of women we are seeing in the media. The modern day woman has no choice but to lean in and blur the lines between her personal and professional life. But with all the controversy surrounding the roles that women like Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union and Sophia Vergara play on TV, it is refreshing to see a woman that is in control, takes crap from no one and whose distribution network brought in $80 million a month.

There is one characteristic from Griselda that more women should adopt in order to really lean in: Fearlessness. In the novela, Griselda gave birth, turned part of her Queens, NY factory into a nursery and proceeded with her business of drugs and murder with her son on her arm - All while telling her husband and her gunmen exactly what to do and when. “She could woo you with her acumen and make you a loyal follower...Anybody working for her also knew she wouldn’t ask anyone to do what she wouldn’t do herself.” said Bob Palombo, the former DEA agent who helped bring her down. That kind of fearlessness and confidence are what women need to lean in. It will help them ask for that raise they deserve, get their husbands to help out around the house more, and make people happy to support them because they see the vision.

By being fearless, there are no second thoughts about the consequences of being a leader, permission isn't asked, and leadership is simply an expectation. However, that's a tough pill to swallow when society is telling us otherwise. There are decades of social science research that point to what we already know: stereotypes and gender bias exists. While men are not only expected, but raised to be assertive, confident, and opinionated, women are left to be the nurturing, compassionate caregiver. Thus, our leadership isn't welcomed and our performance discounted. Our voices aren't heard and we are still making less money than our male counterparts. So while we discuss these issues, complain and try to figure out how to work through these biases, women like Griselda are out there making it happen, fearlessly.

If you like this post, tune in on Sunday to Street Soilders with Lisa Evers. We will be discussing Good Girls Vs. Bad Girls: Who really comes out on top?