Photo by Daria Pimkina on Unsplash
Women have always been great leaders. From Joan of Arc to Rosa Parks, women leaders throughout history have transformed the way we live and advocated for a more progressive, equitable future.
But in the business world, conventional wisdom wrongly dictates that men are better entrepreneurs. Of course, that’s utter nonsense — just ask Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, or Mary Ellen Egan.
However, becoming an entrepreneur and running a successful business takes more than confidence and a desire to break societal norms. To be successful as entrepreneurs, women need to develop and define their core leadership qualities.
In a truly egalitarian world, there would be no need to promote and celebrate women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. However, we do not live in an equal, egalitarian society. Despite recent advances, only 15% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. This means that female entrepreneurs should consider certifying their business as run by women.
Certification as a women-owned company can help women entrepreneurs break down social barriers and create a level playing field for women leaders. There are two types of certifications supported by the federal government:
Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSM)Women-Owned Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses (EDWOSD)
Certification as a WOSM or EDWOSD can help women define their leadership qualities as the certification grants women entrepreneurs access to unique development opportunities. WOSM or EDWOSB certified companies can also work with larger companies and have networking opportunities not normally afforded to women in the business world.
Women are often stereotyped as being less focused or motivated than men. Some people even justify this opinion with “neurosexism,” claiming that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently — a claim recently debunked by researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. This cliché is so wrong and pernicious as it holds women to unattainable standards of laser-like focus and determination.
Nuerosexism is an issue best left behind, but it’s important to recognize that many women entrepreneurs have far more responsibilities than men. Women who lead in the workplace often return home and have to change hats to become housewives or homemakers, while men in the same profession may be more likely to relax after an equally tough day in the office.
Wearing multiple hats as an entrepreneur can be rewarding. Leading as a businesswoman during the day and being a great mother in the evening, that is the wish of many entrepreneurs. However, juggling these roles requires great mental clarity.
Women can improve their mental clarity and critical thinking skills by learning to create mind maps. Mind mapping can reduce stress when making important decisions. Visual thinking can also help women identify problem areas and create space for analysis and evaluation of upcoming events or challenges. Learning to mind map is a surefire way to improve key leadership skills and ensures women entrepreneurs can thrive in every aspect of their lives.
The business world can be a difficult place for anyone. Emotions are often high when the company’s success is at stake and it’s hard to know who’s right in the heat of the moment. Women entrepreneurs can navigate difficult decisions with grace and clarity by learning important conflict resolution skills.
Conflict resolution is an important skill for all leaders. In business and in life, learning how to handle arguments and disagreements is just as important as having a great product or business plan. Women entrepreneurs can develop their conflict resolution skills by:
Practice conflict resolution in a safe, workshop-like environment Attend professional development conferences that focus on conflict resolution Take time to deliberately address conflict (mind maps, active listening, reassuring participants) Reflect on conflicts after they are over and better ones Consider steps for the future
Becoming a conflict resolution expert is not just an issue for women entrepreneurs. However, it is still one of the most important skills to master during the growth phase of a company. Learning to manage conflict when it arises will ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the company’s culture and goals.
Women entrepreneurs often have higher standards than men. This can create stress as female leaders believe they have to be better than their male counterparts in order to prove something.
However, practicing self-care is essential to the long-term health and success of all CEOs. This is especially important for women leaders who may face additional resistance compared to men in the same position. Regularly practicing self-care in any form can help women leaders protect their sanity and ensure they have time and energy for all of their employees.
Women entrepreneurs can define and improve their leadership skills by regularly investing in themselves. Being certified as a women-owned business is a good first step as it can open up funding and networking opportunities in the future. Women can expand their leadership skills by seizing opportunities for self-care and learning to manage conflict as it arises.