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A successful leader inspires, motivates, mentors and directs others toward a higher goal. Let’s be honest here: You’ll have to do more if you’re a woman in our male-dominated business world.
According to a study by Calpers, successful women leaders possess common traits found in all good leaders — assertiveness, action-mindedness, risk-taking and problem-solving abilities. However, they must also acquire other qualities to succeed and overcome the many obstacles they face at home and in the workplace. Over the years, women have progressed through the ranks of the professional world to represent more than half of the U.S. workforce. Still, women continue to hold a far smaller share of leadership positions in various sectors than men.
Leadership gender disparity remains stubbornly high. Experts say one reason for this is the unconscious bias that leads people to react differently to male and female leaders — for instance, male ambition is often lauded. In contrast, female ambition often results in hostility. Moreover, women are expected to be more compassionate, ethical and better at forging compromises than men.
How can women entrepreneurs succeed in a world dominated by men? The following are some qualities I found helpful during my journey as a company founder and entrepreneur.
Related: Rise of Women Entrepreneurs
Integrity — adhering to ethical or moral principles and keeping your word — is foundational to effective leadership. In addition, it builds valuable trust with people, from the employees you lead to the investors and partners you bring to the customers you serve.
People want to follow an ethical leader who acts with integrity, because they can be sure they’ll be treated fairly and that their leader will do what’s best for the organization. Furthermore, ethical behavior, honesty and respect starting at the top are crucial to creating a company culture based on those values.
2. Humility and a willingness to learn
Entrepreneurship is a lifelong process, and savvy businesswomen understand that. The business world changes so fast that you can be an innovation today and be obsolete tomorrow. Successful women entrepreneurs keep learning and studying so that they can adapt to the ever-changing trend swiftly. They humble themselves and learn when the opportunity arises.
3. Resilience and persistence
No matter your gender, entrepreneurship is challenging and full of uncertainty. With the heavier responsibilities women carry and the slowdown in career momentum that often comes with having children, the challenge is made even more complex. Yet, millions of women build businesses due to their resilience and perseverance. In business, nothing good comes easy. To succeed, you must work hard and persist in what you want. Persistence is necessary to grow as a businesswoman.
Women possess a strong sense of intuition. In addition to using facts and data to guide their decisions, strong female leaders can also tap into their intuition for guidance. Intuition is often what guides them through the ups and downs of business.
Women are also adept at reading their teams and spotting potential trouble spots. Using this skill, they can build loyal teams of employees who feel valued and understood.
Taking action is essential, but a deep understanding should inform it of your customers, your industry and your market. Women leaders are curious and open to new ideas.
Adaptability well enables us to see changes coming for the business, which is especially important in this age of high-speed change driven by technology.
6. Communication skills
Communication and leadership go hand in hand. Women are not only good at speaking — they’re also generally good at listening and hearing as well. Communication goes beyond talking. Women have an innate ability to perceive body language and feelings. Having a deep understanding of what drives people, women are excellent motivators for their teams.
Women are socially conditioned to be more empathetic. We naturally serve as caretakers and peacekeepers. The upcoming generations value spending time with their families and their mental health more than their predecessors, and they look for employers who understand their unique circumstances. Employers can create loyal employees by connecting on an emotional level.
8. Strong support system
It is common for successful women to support their female counterparts, champion women in the workplace and help others ascend the corporate ladder. Women are less likely to be “lone wolves” or “leaders of the pack,” lending themselves naturally to helping others.
As women, we must support each other and strive for recognition and support in our local communities, online and in our industries, by influencing decision-making and systemic change.
Do not be afraid to pursue a career as a female entrepreneur. Will it be challenging? It certainly will. Will you lose heart sometimes? Of course, but that’s what should keep you going. You need consistency, determination and a refusal to give up in order to take your business to the next level. You are not alone.
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