Women in Business: The Most Undervalued Leadership Trait


The statistics are startling about women in leadership positions. As of July 2013, there were only 19 female elected presidents and prime ministers in power around the globe. In the business world, women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and the same percentage of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.


As women continue their upward trajectory in the business world, they have yet to be fully appreciated for the unique qualities and abilities they bring to the workplace. What are some leadership traits that women need to succeed in a predominantly men’s world? Below are excerpts from http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2014/02/03/the-most-undervalued-leadership-traits-of-women/#bc072cb690c2. An article by Glenn Llopis

Opportunity-driven

When confronted with a challenge, the women I know look for the opportunity within. They see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. They push the boundaries and, when faced with adverse circumstances, they learn all they can from it. Optimism is their mindset because they see opportunity in everything.

Estée Lauder, the child of Hungarian immigrant parents, was quite the opportunist in the cosmetics industry. During the postwar consumer boom, women wanted to start sampling cosmetic products before buying them. Lauder noticed and responded to this shifting dynamic by pioneering two marketing techniques that are commonly used today: the free gift and the gift-with-purchase. It’s exactly this type of inventiveness that other women use to pursue the opportunities in front of them.

Strategic

Women see what oftentimes others don’t see. As one of my women mentors told me, “A woman’s lens of skepticism oftentimes forces them to see well beyond the most obvious details before them. They enjoy stretching their perspective to broaden their observations. Many women are not hesitant to peel the onion in order to get to the root of the matter.”

At times they “play the part” to test the intentions of others and to assure that they are solidly grounded and reliable. Successful women leaders know how to play the game when they have to – and can anticipate the unexpected. They know what cards to play and keenly calculate the timing of each move they make.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a woman leader made the word “organic” a business term. I learned that women who enjoy the ebbs and flows of business activity also know that the best things are accomplished when they are done naturally – and unforced. When things are happening organically, this means that they are functioning within a natural rhythm and speed – that is safer and risk-averse.


This is not to say that women are uncomfortable with risk – in fact, they will often tackle risk head-on in order to get to the root cause of a problem and solve it (they value time and money). Women leaders who don’t allow their egos to stand in the way of good business are in the mindset of getting things done for the betterment of a healthier whole.

Passionate

While women in general were historically viewed and stereotyped as emotional leaders by men, I believe they are just passionate explorers in pursuit of excellence. When women leaders are not satisfied with the status quo, they will want to make things better. These women leaders get things done and avoid procrastination.

As another one of my women mentors said, “They enjoy order and stability and a genuine sense of control. Many women have learned not to depend upon others for their advancement and thus have a tendency to be too independent. A woman’s independent nature is her way of finding her focus and dialing up her pursuits.”

When these women leaders are locked into what they are searching for – move out of the way. Their passionate pursuits allow them to become potent pioneers of new possibilities. No wonder minority women represent the largest growing segment of entrepreneurs. According to a report by the Center for Women’s Business Research, U.S. Hispanic and African American women entrepreneurs grew at rates of 133.3% and 191.4% respectively from 1997 to 2007.

Entrepreneurial

Entrepreneurship is just a way of life for many women. They can be extremely resourceful, connect the dots of opportunity, and become experts in developing the relationships they need to get the job done. Many women leaders also see through an entrepreneurial lens to best enable the opportunities before them. They know that to create and sustain momentum requires 100% focus on the objective – and so they don’t enjoy being disrupted by unnecessary noise and distractions.

As one of my former women bosses told me, “Women can play into the politics of the workplace, and do so if it means adding value to the momentum they are attempting to create.”

Many women leaders find excitement and motivation by being extremely creative and resourceful when completing tasks and other duties and responsibilities –. They avoid falling too far behind on projects – knowing that if they do it will disrupt their focus and momentum. That is why I learned never to disrupt a woman’s focus and concentration if I can avoid it.

My former female boss continued by saying, “This is why women like control. Not necessarily to be in charge, but to not lose the rhythm or compromise the momentum they need to accomplish their goals.”

Purposeful and Meaningful

I have found that many women leaders enjoy inspiring others to achieve. They know what it’s like to be the underdog and work hard not to disappoint themselves and others. Women leaders in particular often have high standards and their attention to detail makes it difficult for others to cut corners or abuse any special privileges.

Women leaders with a nurturing nature are good listeners and excellent networkers/connectors. They enjoy creating ecosystems and support a collaborative leadership style that melds the thinking and ideas of others; this is what multiplies the size of an opportunity and/or its speed in execution in order to create a larger sphere of influence and overall impact. Women who don’t have to be right all the time make good consensus builders and will more likely enjoy participating in a team environment.

Traditions and Family

Whether at home or at work, women are often the glue that keeps things together and that is why they represent great leadership for America’s future. When they sense growing tensions that can lead to potential problems or inefficiencies, the most successful women leaders enjoy taking charge before circumstances force their hand. Women are usually the ones to secure the foundational roots of the family and to protect family and cultural traditions from wavering. They provide leadership within the home and in the workplace to assure that legacy remains strong by being fed with the right nutrients and ingredients.


The most successful women leaders are big believers in team building and the enforcement of mission, goals, and values to assure that everyone is on the same page with like intentions. This secures a sense of continuity making it easier for everyone to have each other’s backs. No wonder women are assuming more management and leadership roles in family-owned businesses.


To the great women in my personal and professional life, thank you for the opportunity to be inspired and mentored by your leadership (you know who you are). I’ve read many things about women in the workplace and their lack of advancement into senior executive roles and in the boardroom. Rarely have I read something from a man who has been inspired and influenced by the wisdom of a woman’s leadership. Hopefully, this perspective helps awaken more of us to the opportunity of learning about leadership from the women in our lives, whether in the home or at work.


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