5 simple rules can help women in business capitalize on their strengths to successfully lead
I am sure all of you have read business books about what people do or what they tell people to do lead, follow, invent, innovate, time manage the top 10 ways to get ahead in today’s business world without losing your mind. Add to this book specifically aimed at women in business and you have another entire genre. With all these self-help business books, there doesn’t seem to be any room for different thoughts.
My own experience in becoming a corporate executive and then a female entrepreneur is unique to me. Just recently, I left a 34-year corporate career to become a small business of one! I had learned everything about what to do, and what not to, while in my various corporate jobs. It was time for me to build my own practice. What I realized most of all was that in following a few rules I had gained the confidence to be a businesswoman in my own right:
Here Are the Five Simple Rules
Rule 1: Permission to Get Help
We constantly hear about work life balance, having it all or not having it all.
Let’s face it these options are just plain hard. I have been a wife, mother and corporate executive sometimes all at once and some more successfully than others. I can tell you now; it all needs to work as one. Compartmentalizing may work for some but I have found that the female nature makes it difficult.
For example, for women in business it’s hard to pretend on the day of a big presentation at work that our sick child at home isn’t consuming all of our thoughts.
I found that when I let others in on a problem like this, especially other female bosses, we were able to find a work-around that helped the business and me. In turn I encourage the many young women I mentor to not be so hard on themselves and to ask for help. An executive or entrepreneur’s work is a big part of each day, sometimes all of it.
Women in business need to allow themselves to have good days and bad days and get help when you need it.
Rule 2: Be Who You Are
This is a continuation of the first point.
There was a time when I didn’t even have a photo of my child on my desk at work because I feared being placed in the mommy track. Fortunately, it’s not the 80s anymore and those days are gone. Mothers who hold professional jobs are more the rule than the exception.
Being a working mother in a professional job is as much who you are as any other choice that you have made for your life. Your characteristics such as emotional intelligence, empathy and highly collaborative work ethic are also who you are.
Resist the urge to suppress traits that can sometimes be viewed as too soft and build them as strengths, not weaknesses.
Rule 3: Kindness
Speaking of building strengths, being kind to others is probably one of the easiest things to do and yet is so often overlooked in today’s competitive business world.
Has your mother ever told you this saying: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Think about the pesky fly and how you want to stop him when you contemplate that saying.
No matter what treatment you receive from others, imagine first that it is not about you and always reply with kindness. You will begin to view unkind people with a different lens and the reputation you build of yourself will be a better lasting memory.
Rule 4: Listening and Learning
My Dad, who was a professor, used to always say, Listen, you might learn something.
This emphasis on learning helped me learn the fundamentals of how businesses run. I carried this knowledge to the small business I own today. I also learned that the best salesperson is a good listener. Listening helps you make a better sale because you know more about what the customer truly values.
If you are the only person in the room talking, you will convey a lot of information to others and give a lot of yourself, but what will you gain?
Rule 5: Give Back and Share
The expression pay it forward came from a movie and a novel of the same name.
In the movie a down-in-his-luck teacher challenges his seventh-grade class to think of an idea that will make the world a better place. One student presents the idea that if everyone who receives a favor does a good deed for several others it will create a branching tree of good deeds.
The communities where we work and live, now more than ever, need that branching tree.
Giving of your knowledge and experience in community service can be very beneficial. In doing so you connect with like-minded people from the business community. A Latina businesswoman can expand their networks while helping your own community. It can build your reputation as a thoughtful community leader and as a businessperson.
I am sure other women leaders can add more lessons to this list.
These are the five that stand out for me. I know many great Latina business owners and the quality they all share is confidence. And they also intuitively know to ask for and receive help from those they have worked with and influenced along the way.