When women entered the workforce in earnest in the 1970s, many succeeded in the only way they could – by imitating men. Authoritarian leadership and tight control was the hallmark of the day, and women were not exactly welcomed into the ranks of management. Well ladies, that was yesterday, and today is today!
Forget what your mum or your boss told you, because following the rules can be bad for your career. Today’s CEO/entrepreneur can no longer tap her businesses full potential using a “command-and-control” style. The 21st century business woman needs to be able to build a vision based on the awareness of economic transformation, and help her partners and team fulfill that vision. She must draw on a wide range of skills to get to the top and stay there.
Following are seven key characteristics that are essential for success today:
Create and sell the Vision
A leader with a fresh, independent plan for her company’s growth and future has a distinct advantage in luring and keeping great talent and investors. Vision is not some lofty ideal, but an obtainable concept that is easy to understand and will make the company grow to another level.
Reinvent the Rules
While women have traditionally been socialised to please others, the 21st century leader knows that good girls rarely get great returns. The strong managers/owners today not only anticipate change, they create entirely new organisations that respond to shifts in the market and culture and search for innovation.
Achieve With A Laser Focus
Go where others fear to tread! Being aggressive and ambitious has long been considered male traits, but they are key qualities for new leaders. Today’s business woman has the ability to home in on opportunities that others may simply not see, and then excel in that uncharted territory.
Use High-Touch in a High-Tech Era
When a number of leaders are conducting business by e-mail, voice mail, passwords, and PINs, the female entrepreneur succeeds because she guides with a strong, personal, warm manner. Today’s business woman is just as technologically savvy as her peers, but her skill with staff and customers is “high-touch” which gives her a critical edge and separation from the “pack”.
Challenge or Opportunity?
Women are great at turning a challenge into an opportunity instead of using the “slash-and-burn” approach. They are able to make bold strokes, but they also win the cooperation of others in the organization in making any transformation a success.
A Customer Preference Obsession
In this information age which makes it easier to shop around for the best “whatever”, businesses must work harder to give people what they want before their competitors do. There is no substitute for spending time with clients to become expert at their businesses and learn their demands. Female leaders are almost intuitively adept in doing just that, and without the client even suspecting.
Courage Under Fire
Show me any female entrepreneur today that isn’t able to “stand-the-heat” in any tough-call situation. Their decision-making skills are rooted in a high level of confidence, because they’ve had to weather and surpass any and all business storms they’ve encountered over time.
It takes a certain amount of bravado for anyone to start their own business and succeed, but evidence shows that women are excelling in this area. Let’s face it, ladies! We’ve always had to be able to multi-task and manage the people and commitments in our lives and if we can bear and raise the future generation, how hard can building a successful business be?!
Photo credit: Photo by Nick Wheeler.