“WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT, AND THEIR DIFFERENCE IS NEEDED”: SHAPING THE WOMEN WHO WILL CHANGE THE WORLD
Dr. Rita Lustgarten, Founder of Women on the Leading Edge, Inc., has a Mission – to Prepare Today’s High-Achieving Woman to Lead in the Global Shift to Conscious Capitalism
The current climate of unprecedented social, political and environmental change is leading to tremendous challenges, as well as tremendous opportunity, in the business world. Few dispute that we are in the midst of a fundamental and necessary cultural shift. However, questions remain as to where that shift will ultimately take us, and perhaps more importantly, who will guide us through the tumultuous times ahead. With over 35 years of experience in the field of personal and professional development and transformation, Dr. Rita Lustgarten, has a unique perspective on who is best poised to lead the way through this state of upheaval to a brighter future.
“Women are different,” she explains, “and their difference is needed.”
Dr. Rita is the founder of Women On The Leading Edge, Inc., a global consulting, leadership and business development company providing high level mentorship, business, executive and leadership coaching, strategic and brand consulting, facilitation, professional speaking, Global Leadership Summits, and transformational programs for high achieving women entrepreneurs, executives and business leaders. Working to prepare today’s women leaders to co-create a radically different future for our troubled planet, Dr. Rita’s mission is to empower high-achieving women and women of influence, to define success on their own terms, be engaged in meaningful endeavors, and become an active, powerful part of a new economic force reshaping the world.
“Women on the Leading Edge are women who are fulfilling their leadership potential and desiring to leave their mark on the world,” explains Dr. Lustgarten. “They are leaders who are motivated by hope, vision and action. They are connected to the needs of the world but not determined by them. They have an inspirational vision for the future and a clear direction for how to get there.”
As a psychologist, global organizational and business consultant, executive/leadership coach, mentor to women business leaders, international speaker, facilitator and seminar leader, Dr. Rita has worked for many years, with individuals, teams, and their companies. Many of her clients are from Fortune 500, 300, and 100 companies, along with a number of non-profits. Her partial client list includes Exxon, General Electric, Motorola, The Gap, Citibank, Smith Barney, Google, Williams-Sonoma, Chicago Tribune, and Lucent Technologies, and she regularly consults with top leaders in the financial world and retail industry and several well-known public figures.
In her coaching, mentorship, and leadership work, she enters into a unique learning process that powerfully affects and transforms the leader and her business in such a way as to impact their ability to think differently, access new possibilities, and perform with extraordinary results.
Along the way, Dr. Rita has demonstrated a true gift for working with complex group dynamics, earning a reputation as a skilled synthesizer and integrator who facilitates the emergence of new levels of understanding and creates new possibilities and openings for direction and action.
Those decades of experience have led Dr. Rita to the conclusion that now is the time to take a powerful stand for women as our greatest untapped resource. As a longtime mentor to high-achieving women in and outside the corporate world, she has witnessed a common and disturbing trend in cultural and social expectations and what women feel they need to do to become successful, be recognized and stay relevant. In her estimation, far too many of them are more concerned with proving their worth, competence and credibility than actually striving for excellence. Mentoring these Fortune 500 executives, as well as many powerful and successful women entrepreneurs and leaders, Dr. Rita has come to a profound understanding of the transformation that must occur for women to come to leadership mastery and become the groundbreaking economic, political and social force we need for inspiring change.
“I often put my work in terms of redefining the glass ceiling,” Dr. Rita says. “For too long, women have been psychologically impacted by the internalization of a culture that is patriarchal, and which does not allow their uniquely feminine gifts and differences to shine. In an effort to be relevant and successful in a culture that does not mirror and honor their gifts, and differences, women often deny their own authenticity. I agree with what Sheryl Sandberg recently wrote in her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Women have to lean in, have a voice, and speak their truth. When women get caught up in trying to prove their worth and deny their feminine nature in the quest to be successful, the psychological impact of this holds them back. They end up doubting themselves, their worth and their own credibility.” The real glass ceiling, Dr. Rita so eloquently speaks to, “is inside of women”…Hence the transformation women need to undergo, to come into their true power as leaders.
“My goal is to help women embrace rather than deny their feminine nature,” she adds. “Greater access to their own authenticity, creative nature and abilities as leaders, has the potential to bring forth new emerging paradigms in leadership and a new economic force in reshaping the corporate world. This boils down to two elements, the emergence of the feminine in the workplace and conscious capitalism.”
This shift away from the old business paradigms and toward conscious capitalism, along with shifting the power base back to the Feminine is what Dr. Rita believes may be the most significant shift in the business world – and may prove to be the arena where women will have the opportunity to exercise the most significant impact. “I believe there’s a big change already underway in the entrepreneurial world, and I think it will eventually happen in the corporate world. People are bringing greater consciousness to the work they’re doing. They’re connected to a greater meaning and purpose in their work. They understand the value and power of relationships as a fundamental contributing element to their success. They are much more aware of their impact and the kind of impact they want to have. They are embracing a triple bottom line –it’s not just about the money. I truly believe that today’s business’s need to be mission driven, aligned with a greater purpose that enables them to become an active force for good in the world. Companies need to be far more responsible, far more conscious of the impact they’re having and to align with a much greater positive direction. I do believe the transformation of the world will come though business, and through women.”
Women on the Leading Edge, Inc. was developed to prepare women leaders to enjoy a higher level of success and visibility while facilitating these changes and spearheading progress. The heart of this work is the Women’s Global Leadership Academy, a year-long program highlighted by three invitation-only, in-person Global Leadership Summits. This groundbreaking program provides a select group of influential women with access to transformational leadership training, high-level masterminding, collaboration and an ongoing provocative dialogue in a think tank like setting, exploring the positions women should be taking now in order to grow their influence, deal with the obstacles they need to overcome, and how specifically to accomplish their goals.
The Academy will also focus on select initiatives that will give its members a real opportunity to bring about positive change, as well as providing a support system that will enable its members to go back out into the world and catalyze change within their organizations.
And according to Dr. Rita, many of those changes have already begun. “As a result of our work, helping women unleash the creative potential in themselves, their businesses and organizations, women are experiencing greater credibility, visibility, influence and income.”
So what does it mean to be a powerful woman in the 21st Century? “Women feel powerful when they are making a difference and expanding their own capacities. A powerful woman is in control of her journey and destiny. She knows who she is, what she is here for and what she is able to express in the world. Knowing that financial independence is extremely empowering, we want women to realize their potential, express their passion and be highly paid for it.” Hence her organization’s tagline: Empowering women to lead lives of significance, influence and affluence.
Dr. Rita believes that this process starts with women empowered to cut through the pressures to conform to a male-defined, male-driven world, then becoming leaders in their own lives and defining success on their own terms. That means having the courage to define success from the inside out. She summarizes her empowerment philosophy this way: “When we transform women, we transform the world. As women begin to transform they have the capacity to become a transformative force for change in the world. Women need to break out of the old paradigm of trying to be successful in a man’s world and actually be on the creative edge of bringing forth a new world; one that honors the gifts, brilliance and intelligence of both men and women.”
Empowering a new generation of woman leaders to make the world a better place is a natural next step for a woman who has played a central role in the human potential movement almost since its inception. While studying psychology and philosophy at Cornell University, the New York City native co-founded, (with a group of like minded individuals), the Center for Philosophical Studies, which remained a powerful force in her life for 22 years. The center embraced many different schools of spiritual/philosophical thought, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Scholasticism, Mystical Christianity, Neo Platonism, Jungian Analytic Psychology, Sufism, ancient Astrology and Kabbalah, and allowed Dr. Lustgarten to meet and work with a wide range of spiritual leaders including the Dalai Lama. Through her years she has had the privilege and honor of being in the intimate presence of and mentored by some of the greatest teachers and lights, both Eastern and Western, on this planet. Inclusive of her many eclectic talents, she has been engaged in a lifelong cultivation of a spiritual practice, infusing all of her leadership work and is deeply dedicated to contributing to the transformation and evolution of our world.
Decades later and a world away from the halls of both academia, and the center, that same vision of tapping the best in human potential within organizations, businesses, political figures and people of high profile, with the goal of creating a better world, continues to inform every aspect of Dr. Rita’s work. She has recently received the prestigious honor of being knighted as Dame of Honor by the orthodox order of St. John, Russian Grand Priory (the oldest humanitarian order on the planet) for her philanthropic endeavors and lifelong service to humanity.
Dr. Lustgarten holds master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and Human and Organizational Development and a doctorate in Human Development & Organizational Systems with a specialization in Women’s Leadership. She was awarded a fellowship for her outstanding work in the field of women and leadership and her concomitant contribution to a national initiative called Creative, Longevity, and Wisdom, a project of the Institute for Social Innovation. She is also the mother of two grown children.