What a delight it is to welcome Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris to the highest level of leadership ever achieved by an American woman. Watching her is a master class as Madam Vice President models both the warmth and strength we recognize as the characteristics of the most powerful and successful leaders. This gives us hope! Our country will be in excellent hands.
An essential component of the quality of warmth? A healthy dose of good humor. If you don’t already know, Kamala Harris is quick on her feet with comedic timing that rivals her doppleganger Maya Rudolph.
VP Elect Harris’s performance in the Senate and on the campaign trail shows she takes herself lightly. And she takes her work seriously. These are the ideal qualities of a formidable leader, and uh, we sure could use some formidable leadership around here.
How is Kamala Harris rising to this occasion? We can’t help noticing that she embodies the Foundational Five skills we teach in Funny Girls, our leadership training curriculum for girls. You can see all five in action as Kamala Harris works Collaboration, Resiliency, Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Learning Agility.
Have you ever had serious beef with someone – and then had to team up with that person to work on something essential to your job or your grade for the semester? What if that person had roasted you live on television? Despite whatever ideological disagreements Harris had with her current work partner Joe Biden, she kept her focus on her bigger goals: to lead the country out of despair and despotism. Her ability to look beyond areas of disagreement and focus on the bigger goals allowed her to step up into a historic leadership role. The Funny Girls foundational skill of Collaboration is key for effective leaders, and we have to give props to Joe Biden himself along with his Veep. Nobody landed harder blows against Candidate Biden than Candidate Harris. He knows what a force she is, and we believe she will be one of his greatest strategic partners in overcoming the extraordinary obstacles their administration faces ahead.
Some obstacles are obstinate. We will be forever proud of Kamala Harris demonstrating the Funny Girls foundational skills of Agility and Resilience in the debate with sitting Vice President Mike Pence. Her quick thinking, and her ability to pivot when necessary were on display. Resilient in the face of repeated interruptions, her now-viral catchphrase “I’m Speaking” sent a plain and powerful message to her opponent (and the American people): I will not allow others to walk all over me. I have something to say, and I will say it. Every step in her career gave her the opportunity to learn what it takes to bounce back, getting up when the world keeps knocking you down. Get up enough times and resilience becomes second nature.
When it was time to declare victory, Harris and Biden addressed the country. It would have been impossible to achieve that victory if Kamala Harris had not developed the foundational skill of Self-Awareness, knowing herself and her values well enough to confidently invite others to share her vision. That speech also demonstrated her Empathy, acknowledging how little Black and Brown girls around the world must have been feeling as they watched her on that stage. In her latest Vogue article, Harris shares these recollections of that moment with the reporter:
“I always say this: I may be the first to do many things—make sure I’m not the last. I was thinking of my baby nieces, who will only know one world where a woman is vice president of the United States, a woman of color, a Black woman, a woman with parents who were born outside of the United States.”
As Kamala Harris officially takes the oath of office as the 49th person and first woman to serve as Vice President of the United States of America, we here at Funny Girls will be applauding the leadership skills that brought her there. And we solemnly swear to continue equipping girls with the ability to think fast, put themselves in other people’s shoes, get connected with their own feelings, work better together with others, and try, try, try again. Our Funny Girls know: Leadership Is No Joke.
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons