I always see successful and hardworking women hashtag their social media posts with “grind like a man,” but hard working women need to change their language and be proudly saying “grind like a woman.” Women in executive and leadership roles can play a huge part in driving creative, thought-provoking solutions that yield huge success. Plus, let’s be honest, us women know how to handle the daily grind. We do not need to “grind like men” in order to be successful, but we do need to start changing the way we are seen as executives, leaders and business women.
Before we dive into my Top 5 Tips to Succeed as a Business Woman, let’s look at a few facts:
Despite the growing cracks in the glass ceiling, women still face challenges related to cultural norms and values in the business sector. Women are still disproportionately represented in the business sector and especially in C-Suite positions. Among the 50 highest-valued privately held “unicorn” companies, for example, of those with COOs, 70% have men in the post, 30% women. But that 30% is a striking contrast to the mere two out of 50 CEOs in the same group who are female. Compared with the 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies that had female CEOs in 2017, or to the 10.7% of Fortune 500 COOs who are women, that 30% looks even more significant. This C-suite shift gives advocates of gender parity in the workplace plenty of cause for hope—even as the minuscule number of female CEOs reminds them of the stubborn obstacles that remain. Overcoming these barriers has fueled my determination to share my experiences as a woman in business, as a C.O.O of a successful company, in order to improve the involvement of female leaders everywhere.
A few years ago I stepped into the C.O.O role of a small Construction company. Within two years, I helped transform the company into a highly successful, award-winning construction company. I took the company from a 2-person operation to a 20-person powerhouse team, and all within the year. The company’s revenue is now generating 10 times the amount that was being generated before I came on board. The company has been up for numerous business awards, and won. I’ve been in local magazines as “Woman of the Year,” and “People to Watch.”
How did I do it? I have put together my top 5 characteristics that I believe I possess, and that are needed in order to be a successful business woman in an executive position.
1. Have courage
Whether you’re a man or woman, it takes guts to run a business, and to deal with all the difficult challenges you will undoubtedly face. You have to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward, boost confidence and ultimately succeed. When I first started in my C.O.O position, I was really intimidated by all the men I had to deal with on a daily basis. It took me a lot of courage to walk into the “boys club” and be able to hold my own. I was dedicated to not giving up, and being the best at my job. Every single day I faced my discomfort and showed up. When I am the only female in the room, I remind myself that I am there because I’ve earned my spot. To drive phenomenal outcomes, you have to confidently present your unique skills, perspectives and ideas.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
2. Know Every Detail Before Taking a Risk
I believe in taking risks, but educated risks. Being in an executive position in a company means being willing to take risks; however, ensuring that you have done extensive research before making a decision, will help you achieve a positive outcome. Being aware of all the details, big and small, can be a real game-changer, and is what I call “smart risk taking.” I always make sure that I know every single detail and scenario before I move forward with an action; I am always prepared for any outcome. Knowing the details means being methodical, going through every situation, environment, and set of data available, and to know any detail that others may have missed. This drives the pursuance of your worth to the company. Be ready to take risks, but be ahead of the game and know every detail beforehand, and you will likely take all the right risks.
3. Be Resilient
Failure is a necessary part of success, and it happens to everyone. You’re going to fail big, or you’re going to fail small, or you’re going to fail in both big and small ways at the same time. The point is that it’s going to happen. Don’t be afraid of it. Failure comes when we move out of our comfort zones to try new things, and that’s also the same space where wonderful things happens.
4. Embrace Ambiguity
Ambiguity, or uncertainty about the meaning of something, has been traditionally seen as negative, toxic, confusing and chaotic. However, ambiguity is not only a space of anxiety, it is the home to creativity and innovation. When we don’t know what is going to happen, we can be more creative about what we do next. It’s pretty clear that tomorrow’s leaders are going to face the “new normal” of constant change. It is no longer enough to be a business woman who can master today’s complexities, you have to be prepared to deal with tomorrow’s complexities as well, and to continue to think creatively and innovatively. Through befriending ambiguity, we become more aware of the possibilities available to us.
5. Gritty is Good
Grit is the perseverance and passion to achieve your long-term goals. Grit is a diligent spirit; the nagging conviction that keeps you pressing on when it’d be easier to give up. Grit is what makes you get back on the horse after you’ve been kicked off. Grit is the realization that achieving one’s greatest potential comes from running a marathon, not a sprint. Having the “grittiness” to thrive in the face of adversity is necessary to be successful long-term. I believe that we need to decide to have grit and decide to succeed.
The word “decision” comes from latin roots de, which means “from” and caedere, which means “to cut.” Making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility. If you fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on a new path to achieve the outcome you are looking for.
“It is in your moments of decision your destiny is shaped” (Anthony Robins).
I think we have been chipping away at the glass ceiling long enough, it is now time to obliterate it. Own your skills, own your strengths, own your emotions, own your ideas and capabilities. We are the women pioneers of the business world, and we need to pave the way for future generations of women leaders.
Be the inspiration — for yourself, your company and female leaders everywhere.