Being a female entrepreneur can present many challenges, but there are plenty of examples of successful female entrepreneurs who have managed to plow through obstacles and pave the way for a new generation of savvy businesswomen. Top female entrepreneurs have learned to thrive in their fields by focusing on diversity, communicating well, and employing emotional intelligence in their work.
Here are some of the lessons that top female entrepreneurs have learned throughout their business careers.
Focus on diversity. It is important for women entrepreneurs to embrace diversity in all of its forms, whether embracing cultural differences in the workplace or diversity of opinions. Says Allison Wistner, a director at Mercato Partners, in this Forbes article:
The best leaders recognize that diversity fosters different opinions and leads to better outcomes. In male dominated industries, there’s a tendency for women to pattern opinions and behavior around male colleagues to help fit in and succeed. Some of the most impressive female leaders I’ve encountered surround themselves with people who continually challenge their thinking. Different is good.
Communicate well. Women are often seen as naturally skilled communicators, and this can help in women-led business settings. Businesses thrive when open dialogue is encouraged and celebrated.
According to Cheryl Snapp Connor, founder of the successful public relations company Snapp Conner PR:
I’ve found that good leaders are also exceptional communicators. This is not a uniquely female trait, but women leaders are often better at fostering open environments with frequent dialogue with the senior leaders. The culture of a company is incredibly important, and a lack of transparency becomes a foundation for uncertainty and unhappy employees. Good communicators earn trust and loyalty among a team and foster better collaboration as a result.
Many female entrepreneurs have made it by communicating openly and including points of view. Monisha Perkash, co-founder and CEO of zero2one notes that good communication and an appreciation for diverse opinions go hand-in-hand:
. . .We openly talk about our strengths and weaknesses, and ways that we clash with and complement each other. For example, we’ve identified who gets energized from abstract vs. concrete thinking, who gets impatient with process and who wants more of it, and who embraces contrarian philosophies and who doesn’t. While these differences have at times been sources of tension, when we identify and celebrate these differences, we realize that we are an even stronger team.
Employ emotional intelligence. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman and former CEO of Carlson, one of the largest privately-held companies in the world, says that emotional intelligence is one of the keys of great leadership. Women may be more adept at recognizing and empathizing with the needs of others, and this can come in handy in a business setting. “Emotional intelligence is gained through understanding ourselves,” says Carlson. “When talking about leaders, they need to be authentic and consistent in treating all levels (of people) equally. True leaders have that sense of commonality; they make that kind of connection that relates to others.”
This doesn’t mean that women entrepreneurs are pushovers. ON the contrary, women entrepreneurs must often take the hard line and make tough decisions. It just means that in the most high-functioning work situations, these tough decisions are communicated clearly and with compassion and respect.
Kelly Keating provided this article on behalf of Navex Global. Navex Global has recently joined forces with ELT and Ethics Point! The conglomerate of certified compliance providers offers solutions from AB 1825 training to whistleblower hotlines. If you business is in need of a provider or consulting on compliance and governance solutions, give us a shout at 1-800-528-5745.