Friday, July 5, 2013

7 Things that Characterize Women Leaders

In a recent article for Fast Company, Ekaterina Walter outlined the seven “traits that unite women in power”. What struck me about the article was that it was not so much traits (which I take to mean innate or non-acquired factors) but experiences and choices of women leaders. Here is my re-capture of these seven in a shortened form. You can read Ms. Walters original article at:

1. Effective role models. In short, be one and have many. Women leaders actively look for and learn from other successful women. They also willingly mentor and support women who aspire to leadership roles.

2. Hard Work. Add to this perseverance, determination and resilience. However, not all women who demonstrate these qualities make it to leadership roles. Why not? Education, street smarts and communication skills are all factors. Not to mention, that men who work equally as hard are more likely to find themselves promoted to leadership roles.

3. Confidence. Or lack thereof is a career killer for women. There’s a chicken and egg problem here however. Success breeds confidence and failure can be a confidence killer. “Media pioneer Arianna Huffington cites lack of confidence as “a killer to success for women. In order to advance their careers, women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.”

4. Support. Former Secretary of State in the United States, Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” A broad and accessible network often characterizes successful women. However, let’s not forget support that comes from families - partners, children, parents and siblings are all part of most women leaders’ network.

5. Knowledge. A solid and early foundation in technology, math and sciences is touted as furthering women’s success in business and political arenas. Knowledge (which is in your head) without skill (which is what you must do to apply your knowledge), discernment and judgment won’t like get anyone far however. Female leaders are often renaissance women. They possess an array of talents and abilities and they use them with integrity and good judgment.

6. Visibility. Women in leadership roles define a “new normal” of being comfortable being visible. They don’t mind standing out, being different, asking tough questions, taking on difficult problems that will likely attract attention from others.

7. Mentoring. According to Walters, “identifying and overcoming obstacles to their career progression at the early stages can have a huge effect on their eventual success. This should start in school and be a part of every stage of a woman’s education and training.”

Paula J. MacLean is the best-selling author of five human resource books. Visit her website at for more free resources and book information.

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