I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some spectacularly smart and strong women throughout my career, and I’m frequently reminded of the values that these women have displayed – things I’m working hard to implement in my own business. Whether you believe that gender differences are the result of nature or of nurture, don’t miss out on the lessons you can learn from successful women.
- Self-worth derives from community service. Some men tend to be trophy hunters – racking up accomplishments and money in an attempt to demonstrate their value to the world. Women tend to see their relationship to their community – and the vital ways in which they are connected to their community – as the hallmark of success. Keeping in mind that we are part of our community and that it is our interconnectedness that makes and keeps us relevant and necessary can help us focus on strengthening ties rather than creating distance.
- Presentation matters. Women have been judged by their appearances to a much greater degree than men have, and it’s worth remembering that we only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure that you present yourself as organized, neat, and capable … every time. And hey – stylish doesn’t hurt either!
- Balance work and home. While no one gets it perfect every day, women tend to make the effort to flourish in their careers, while still making time to spend time with their families. It’s important to maintain the vital support of our home lives – the support that will actually help us succeed in business. Don’t devote all of your time to your career at the expense of your partner and your family.
- Tolerate pain. Running a successful business is hard work – much like the labor that precedes a delivery. Women are masters as gritting their teeth, settling in for the long haul, and getting the job done. Growing a business is a struggle, and it’s never painless. Entrepreneurs can’t afford to be wimps!
- Multitask. Women tend to be much more adept than men at juggling multiple tasks efficiently. While there is something to be said for a single-minded focus, sometimes concentrating on just one task is a luxury we don’t have. When you’re faced with many things all competing for your attention, observe some women working on multiple tasks and see if you can improve your multitasking abilities.
- Ask for help. We joke about the man who will drive around forever and never stop to ask for directions, but the joke hits close to home for some men. Realizing that you’re not an expert in everything and that asking for help is actually a sign of strength lets you avail yourself of the expertise that’s all around you. You don’t have to be the best at every task that keeps your business running, and asking employees or mentors for advice or assistance shows your confidence in them.
- Use social skills. Women are master networkers. They use their ties to the community as a powerful asset, and nurturing those connections will put you in contact with more clients and more collaborators.
- Collaborate. As fields become increasingly specialized, we’re going to find more tasks that require us to collaborate with other experts. If you’re focused on producing the very best products and services, that goal will nearly always be more easily achieved by collaboration. Look around you for folks who can make you better.
In listing these values that I’ve seen in so many successful women, I’m not guy-bashing. I work hard to keep an open mind about techniques for improving my abilities to run my businesses, and I’ve learned that success had no gender. It’s available to us all.