Even though we continue to cheer each time a glass ceiling is shattered, consider this shocking stat: Today, women make up just 4.8 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. In fact, one recent report found that in the workplace, women continue to face “greater barriers to advancement and a steeper path to senior leadership.”
Yet, a more optimistic study reveals that businesses that actively support gender equality in management positions perform better as a corporation. The evidence behind female entrepreneurs is equally solid: The number of woman-owned businesses has actually increased by 74 percent since 1997 — that’s 1.5 times the national average.
The translation? Whether you’re aiming for the C-suite or kicking off your own venture, it’s key to continue to build skills and expertise. Read on for the expert-approved leadership qualities and tactics that will get you to the #girlboss level.
1. Tackle fears head on.
You’ve heard it before: In interviews, meetings, and boardrooms, many women tend to doubt themselves. Rather than push fears aside, Nicole Williams, founder and CEO of career consulting firm WORKS, suggests taking a more active approach. “Concerned you’re not experienced enough for a more senior role? Attending training courses or getting feedback from a mentor might do the trick,” she says.
2. Keep it real.
“You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can believe in you,” says career coach Ashley Stahl. Make sure your mission comes from the heart. “The more your ‘why’ is attached to something meaningful, the more endurance you’ll have,” says Williams. And don’t be afraid to be transparent with your team — even if that transparency makes you appear vulnerable. “When leaders stay genuine, their team feels a commitment to perform better for them,” Stahl tells us.
3. Develop ‘emotional fitness.’
“Leaders show their true colors when they react to failed deals, lost clients… even the coffee that spills on them,” explains Stahl. If you freak out during the inevitable ups and downs of a business, you may send ripples of panic through the entire team.
4. Leave your ego at the door.
No matter your success, a ‘queen bee’ attitude is counterproductive. “A true leader does whatever is required to get the job done,” Stahl says, “even if her paycheck and title suggest that the task is far beneath her.” This can-do approach will not only ensure that projects get finished, it will do wonders for morale.
5. See opportunity where others don’t.
“Nobody is a born leader — you have to earn that title,” Williams tells us. That means honing business acumen and focusing on the bottom line. Come up with ways you can increase efficiency, earn new clients, develop strategic partnerships, and see setbacks as opportunities for innovative solutions. According to Stahl, “This is what separates great leaders from the average employee.”