Which characteristics do the most powerful and successful women in business all have in common? What sets the likes of Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Helen Clark apart? Whether it is ownership all or a combination of these enigmatic traits, it takes something special to rise to ‘Leader’ status on a grander scale. But what really makes them tick? What actually constitutes to an influential female leader in business?
Self-belief is key. What all strong female business women strive to do is abolish any fears and insecurities which may arise as a result of gender stereotypes in the work place. They act upon ambition, hopes, and dreams to accomplish their goals to their full potential. As American politician Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Woman who adopt this approach in their day to day lives, don’t just become leaders, they become role models. Strong business women worldwide demonstrated acts of fearlessness on a daily basis, including: Marjorie Scardino, Karren Brady, and Safra Catz, to name a few. Karren Brady, one of the UK’s most high profile business women famously resumed answering emails 24 hours after emergency brain surgery. Her spin on things was that surgery can also be treated “like a business problem”.
A common attribute which is undeniably present in all female leaders is their thirst for life and the opportunities life throws at them. You won’t find a successful business type who spends any portion of their life wasting valuable time. These ladies take ‘Carpe Diem’ to a newfound extreme and subsequently prosper as a result. Proactivity is always key and the likes of Indra Nooyi, Maria das Gracas and Arianna Huffington are proof of that. They never stop at one project; instead they constantly juggle numerous ventures and endeavours simultaneously, not letting any one of them slip through the cracks. All of this is done not only to succeed personally, but in rightful attempt to gain respect in more than one business sphere. They write books, they make extensive motivational speeches at events, and they sit on various committee boards.
Being a Community Leader First
The capacity to prosper beyond the walls of an office is an attribute most business leaders uphold proudly. And it all has to begin somewhere. Thriving in your own local community is the first step to mastering the wider world. There is no habitable place on earth where something can’t be done to help improve the quality of life, which is why for hundreds of years business has been so integral to community welfare. Naomi Tarry, business owner based in East Anglia, specialises in letting Suffolk cottages, is a well-known figure in her local community. She is valued and respected in her area because her business boosts the local tourism industry considerably each year. More importantly, Tarry’s company buys up decrepit cottages and buildings, renovating them into spectacular properties for rental which help transform the villages and towns in which they are situated. “I don’t think we realised at the beginning the kind of difference we could have on the community, but now it’s one of the most important things we take into account”, said Tarry.
Innovative Approach to Business
Opting to ‘Break the Mould’ is essential. Half-way through 2014, there are countless businesses we could quickly dub as ‘a-been-there-done-that’ attempt. Accomplishing something in a distinctive way can be considered cutting-edge and is naturally going to gain some acknowledgment. The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award accolades such achievements. It is regarded as the ‘Oscar’ for female entrepreneurs and is awarded in 27 countries. The award recognises fearlessness, sheer willpower and an enterprising spirit in business. It aims to honour Madame Clicquot, the first woman to lead a company of men in the 19th century.
Inspiring the Masses
Making a profound statement has a much louder echo in a twenty-first century society. In a world of popular blogs, viral videos and bestselling books, ideas and moments can be eternalised with just a push of a button. With all this content constantly being created and shared, the pressure is on to impress. The women go the extra mile to inspire the hundreds or thousands, or millions for that matter are the ones who acquire that ‘leader’ status, and the ones who shall be remembered for years to come. These are the women who have overcome an obstacle and never looked back to let it hinder them. Mary Kay Ash for example continued to build her business Mary Kay Cosmetics despite grieving the loss of her husband. Leading women like Sheryl Sanberg have taken the leap to be a household name, and not just a respected name in business spheres but all across the board. Her book, Lean In, sparked an incredible debate about women in the workplace, as well as claiming the top spot on Amazon’s best seller’s list in its first week of release.
Caring about the greater good is something every inspiring leader has to at least dabble in in order to gain valuable recognition. The difference with these women is they do a lot more than just ‘dabble’. They invest a considerable amount of time in to worthy causes, which simultaneously influences the masses and makes a change in some way or another. Case and point: not only is Susan Wojcicki the CEO of YouTube, but she also casually donates hefty sums of money to worthy causes. In 2012, she donated a mere 223 million dollars to charity through her own project, the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, which tackles a range of causes internationally. These women are not just about the money though. ‘Doing good’ extends to really caring. Sanberg founded a non-profit organization herself, inspired by her novel, which shares the same name, Lean In. The organisation is aimed at producing a global community that inspires women to remain being active and ambitious in their careers even as they start families.
A strong and innovative approach to business can really go a long way.