1. A belief in oneself. For both men and women, there’s a fine line between healthy self-confidence and an oversized, “look at me” ego. Certainly, an unshakeable belief in oneself is an essential trait for women leaders—not in the sense that they have to prove they’re better than everyone around them, but rather being able to forge a culture where no one seeks to undermine or demoralize others at their own expense.
In fact, women with a deep sense of self-confidence are often more inclined to accept critiques and feedback on their leadership styles.
2. A willingness to nurture. In the frequently cutthroat world of business, “nurturing” can appear to be a soft or even disposable trait.
Not so, says performance coach Jackie Moore. She contends that a woman’s “nurturing spirit is often confused with being lackadaisical or an inability to hold people accountable which is not the case.” In her view, “being a nurturer, having a sense of being fair and just, and use of our women’s intuition are some of our strongest traits.”
3. A focus on achieving one’s goals. The most effective women in business maintain a clear vision of what they wish to achieve—both in the short-term and over the long haul. Aspects of this vision may change depending upon circumstances, but the commitment to reaching one’s objectives remains unwavering.
This is frequently illustrated by a woman leader’s drive to balance her professional obligations with her life outside of work. Maintaining this precarious balance requires creativity and flexibility, additional traits demonstrated by effective leaders (of either gender).
4. Building and leading teams. It probably can’t be said that women are better at developing relationships and building teams than their male counterparts. However, they can make use of their intuitive natures to discern conflict within a team—and then seek to resolve that conflict—as well as follow their instincts to favor a team approach, rather than asking an individual to take on too large a challenge.
5. Willingness to question the status quo. Strong female leaders frequently feel the need to challenge “the way business has always been done.” They don’t necessarily accept a traditional approach to strategy and may be more willing than some male leaders in pushing back against convention when they feel strongly about finding a more effective solution.
6. Not afraid to ask for help. Of course, broad generalizations are to be viewed skeptically, but women leaders often feel less inhibited about reaching out for input and guidance when necessary. They understand the limitations of trying to do everything themselves and (as noted previously with the quality of nurturing) see great value in empowering others to assume greater responsibilities. They’re also unafraid to seek the insights and feedback of other business leaders.
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