While the number of women in top business leadership roles still lags behind that of men, there’s no question that women have made great strides in the workforce – in the realm of business, politics and beyond.
And though there’s no one recipe for success, successful women do tend to share some of the same characteristics. So – what is it that helps some women rise to the top? Below, we’ve put together a list five traits that many successful women leaders have in common – along with some inspirational quotes from women leaders who have paved the way.
1. They’re persuasive
The ability to persuade others to believe in your ideas is a quality that both men and women need in order to be effective leaders. Interestingly, characteristics that are traditionally seen as “feminine” – such as empathy and the ability to read people – may contribute to being more persuasive in the workplace. These characteristics allow women leaders to see all sides of a situation and read coworkers more accurately. This increases others’ trust in them, as well as their ability to persuade others to come around to their way of thinking.
“90% of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.” –Dianne Feinstein
2. They set goals
Women leaders don’t rise to success on accident. They do so because they set concrete goals and work hard to reach them. They don’t get sidetracked by their personal lives or other responsibilities. Instead, they find creative and innovative ways to balance work and family time, while still giving both their all. An added benefit to this laser-like focus is that it makes these women appear more confident to their coworkers and team members. These female leaders know what they want, and how to get it.
“The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.” – Barbara Sher
3. They build teams
Another area where women leaders tend to excel? Fostering personal relationships that develop strong teams. That requires the ability to sense internal conflict and take action to resolve it – before it creates distrust and discord. In addition, great women leaders often prefer to tackle issues using a team approach rather than requiring individual workers to stand alone. They hear and respond to multiple points of view in order to make the most informed decision possible.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” –Rosalynn Carter
4. They have a strong sense of self
Successful women leaders also tend to have a strong sense of self. They know exactly who they are, what they want and what they bring to the table. This characteristic isn’t egotism. Instead, it’s simply knowing and being comfortable in their own skin. While these women are likely to face the same changes as others, they don’t allow those challenges to change who they are. They face roadblocks head on, with poise and confidence. They stand by their decisions and convictions, rather than second-guess themselves.
“Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” –Sheryl Sandberg
5. They’re not afraid to break rules
One final area that sets successful women leaders apart? They’re not afraid to break rules. Women leaders are used to having to fight the system to get ahead, so they’re not afraid to think outside the box and question the status quo. They don’t shy away from questioning corporate procedures and company structures. They push back against habit, and they find innovative solutions to workplace issues. They solve problems – even if it means taking the road less traveled.
“I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” – Nora Ephron
What qualities do you think successful women leaders share? Let us know in the comments!
Liz Seasholtz writes about jobs, workplace culture and business solutions at Talent Tribune, a Software Providers blog.
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