Why Abby Wambach’s message isn’t just for women

The opening keynoter for HR Tech shared 'new rules' for modern women in her 2019 book.
By: | August 30, 2021

 

Abby Wambach

In a recent HR Tech post, I mentioned that I had a week off at the beach. And what better place to catch up on some long-overdue reading that I have been neglecting? I brought along two books, one that I had been planning as a “fun” read, and another that was more for work, but which also turned out to be a captivating read. That second book is titled Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash our Power and Change the Game by this year’s HR Tech Conference opening keynote speaker Abby Wambach. Wambach was, in my opinion, the finest American soccer player ever and, when she retired from international soccer, she was the all-time leading goal scorer, male or female, in international play.

In Wolfpack, Wambach uses her years as an international athlete, activist and speaker to address issues impacting women across sectors, in particular setting out a list of what she calls the “new rules” for women that replace the traditional, outdated advice many had  been trained to follow. For example, regarding leadership, the “old rule” says women should wait for permission to lead; Wambach’s new rule states women can “Lead now—from wherever you are.” Each chapter talks about one of the eight new rules she has learned throughout her career as a leader—both on and off the soccer field.

See also: 4 ways to make your new hybrid workplace equitable for women

Advertisement

What resonated with me was that, while it seems the book was written for a female audience, the principles are relevant to all and are perhaps especially important for men to understand, as all too often men have controlled women’s access to opportunities. It’s important to acknowledge this imbalance in power, as it can have a resounding impact on women in the workplace, which Wambach demonstrates in the opening pages of Wolfpack. Once, when she was working with an organization that hired her to teach about leadership, a male executive said, “Excuse me, Abby. I just need to ensure that what you present will be applicable to men too.” Wambach fired back: “Good question! But only if you’ve asked every male speaker you’ve hired if his message is applicable to women too.”

That was an outstanding point and one that I took to heart as someone who has worked with literally hundreds of speakers over the years. I am really looking forward to meeting Wambach at HR Tech this year and her opening keynote to learn more about her approach to leadership, strategies for more meaningful inclusion, effective team building and more.

You definitely won’t want to miss it!

Click here to register for HR Tech and hear Wambach live and in person during the conference, being held Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.

Steve Boese is HRE's Inside HR Tech columnist and chair of HRE’s HR Technology Conference®, which is taking place Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2021, in Las Vegas. He also writes a blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

More from HRE