I was speaking with the founder of an entrepreneurial company about women in business. He said, “You know, my wife is the most incredible multi-tasker. She can integrate work, family and personal commitments with an ease and grace that I will never have.” His comment got me thinking about how women can build on their strengths in business. Anyone who has started their own business knows that multi-tasking, being agile and follow-up are essential to their success as entrepreneurs.
Another key factor in entrepreneurial success and as a leader in general is your level of “emotional intelligence.” The biggest reason that executives fail is not IQ, but lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions effectively in ourselves and with others. It describes the behaviors that sustain people in challenging roles, or as their careers become more demanding. Two of the building blocks of EI are self-awareness and empathy.
Women make great entrepreneurs for many reasons. The three major ones I’ve observed in working with CEOs of growing companies are:
- Ability to multi-task
- Superior emotional intelligence
In brain research, women have consistently been identified as having different wiring than men which helps them to multi-task more easily. With limited resources and the need to be able to juggle competing priorities, women are well suited to the multi-tasking required by the entrepreneurial environment. Most young entrepreneurs want to be able to balance their work and personal life. Women seem to be able to hold a variety of tasks from different categories like marketing, shopping for meals for the next 2 weeks, proposal development and child care with efficiency.
If you can’t “turn on a dime,” and be agile, you usually miss out on an opportunity. You lose your competitive edge. Agility involves the capability of a leader to engage their team to stay nimble and act quickly in fast-paced environments. The highest performing organizations are quick to identify opportunities and dismantle any barriers that impede effective execution of strategies and plans. Women are team players. There is mounting evidence in the communication literature that in general, women tend to be more consensus building than men. High performing teams find a common goal and they put aside their individual egos to achieve results. Women seem to find it easier to focus less on what they want and more on what the collective wants.
Women are often more self –aware than men. They take time to listen and empathize with others. Empathy is the ability to capture the feeling and meaning of what another is experiencing and conveying it in such a way that the person feels understood. Often men go right to helping with a solution and don’t take time to understand where others are coming from or empathize with them. Emotionally, women are usually more attune to what is going on. As a result, female leaders have the capacity to build trust and rapport with others. They model some of the core elements of EI.
Whether you are a woman who works for a company that requires entrepreneurial thinking or are an entrepreneur, recognizing the strengths outlined above and building on them will enhance your leadership success.
Are you a women entrepreneur? A supportive peer forum can help you to forge your own deliberate plan towards a rewarding career and life. Learn more about joining our Key Women’s Leadership Forum.