I come across a lot of women entrepreneurs or women who are in leadership positions and I’ve noticed a few things about women that give them the edge over some of the men entrepreneurs I’ve worked with. These women are my friends, clients I’ve worked with or still working with and I also happen to be dating one ?. My experience is very personal and maybe biased, but here are some of the things I’ve picked up on.
First Impressions Lasts
All of the female entrepreneurs I know have style and sass to them. Each one of them are very different and distinct, they light up the rooms they walk into. You may argue and attribute this to the fact that they are women and they are beautiful. You are right about the beauty part, but its not the beauty that lights up the room. It’s the way they present themselves. The clothes they wear, and the way they carry themselves. It all starts with being well dressed and well groomed.
I have yet to see a female entrepreneur who doesn’t look good when they walk into a room. They always put out the best versions of themselves, whether they are going into an important meeting or just showing up to work at the office.
On the contrary some of the men entrepreneurs I’ve worked with seem to think its ok to neglect looking after themselves, just show up to work wearing old and or ugly looking shirts that don’t match their pants. The worse one I’ve experienced a lot is weak handshakes and not making eye contact when greeting someone. I have never experienced this from a leading lady.
Work Life Balance
Men entrepreneurs are horrible at this. I was guilty of this in the past as well. Where I was never able to leave work at the workplace. I would always carry my stress from work over at home, and this turned out to be a disaster in the long run.
I have yet to see a woman entrepreneur who is not able to just ‘switch off’ from their work and be in the moment and enjoy life outside of work. Most women entrepreneurs will have something they love to do outside of work whether its yoga, salsa dancing or diving. Whatever it is they seem to be able to just ‘switch off’ and ‘switch on’ when they want. When I talk to these women they may have had a rough day at work but when they are out they seem to just be in the moment, eating, laughing, talking, dancing and having a good time. All they need is for someone to listen to them talk about it for 5–10 minutes, throw in a glass of wine and its done, time to have some fun. I don’t see this with us men and no drinking your way into oblivion just so you can have fun doesn’t count. I am talking about the emotional strength to compartmentalize problems and walk away from it knowing you will re-visit it later.
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Some of the guys I’ve worked with stress over work even when they’re out with their friends. They can’t stop thinking or talking about all the stress and it carries over into the weekend which is extremely unhealthy.
I think this is where the fact that women solve problems by talking comes in handy. They talk about it and then poof! For that moment it’s over. Men seem to just want to work at the problem until its solved without being aware that by not taking a breather and giving it some time and space they are actually making the problem worse. I’ve seen so many professional and personal relationships ruined just because someone didn’t get enough sleep and was unable to deal with the stress because of the anger and frustrations due to lack of sleep or adequate rest. Such a small thing, that leads to huge losses. Just for the fact that they couldn’t ‘switch off’.
A lot of men seem to really suck at this and are not aware of it. I am not sure what it is maybe its ego, or wanting to show dominance or wanting to be ‘right’ all the time. But listening is probably the most important skill a good leader / entrepreneur can have.
When you are a leader, you set the tone, vision and culture of your company / organization / group. Once you’ve communicated your vision and direction for the team you need to be able to trust your team with the execution. You don’t always need to be right, your job is to create an environment where the best ideas and execution that gets your team closer to the vision wins. You may need to ask questions and curate ideas with your team, but you don’t always need to be right or have the last say. Your team needs to be able to talk to you and be open and tell you their problems, hopes and dreams. You need to be able to listen because the reason why you hired the people you are working with is because they are better than you at the task they are hired to do.
Women seem to be able to do this much better than men. Even when women are not listening, and you tell them, ‘could you please hear me out?’ they’ll be able to switch to full listening mode very quickly without feeling like their ego is under attack. If women are not good listeners they are usually aware of the fact and want to work towards being a good listener. They seem to be much more aware of the importance of listening.
Asking for Help
I think this issue is related to the fact that as men we just don’t like to ask for directions. I get it you want to be the man, the one with all the answers. Again this goes back to the fact that being a good leader doesn’t need to have all the answers all the time. Being able to take a step back and letting someone else come up with an answer while you are just curating and making sure the answer fits the vision shows strength as a leader. The strength to ask for help, accepting it and being able to give credit to your team.
Women seem to have no problem reaching out to get help. It doesn’t make them feel less or feel like they are losing control when they ask for help. Sometimes this can mean the difference between losing or keeping your business.
Leading with Emotion
This seems to be a natural one for most women I’ve talked to and worked with. They lead with their emotion. They know what they feel is needed and they just make it a priority. It’s based on emotion. They ‘feel’ that something is ‘right’ or ‘feel’ that something is wrong. Most men I’ve worked with seem to think of this as a weakness and they’re wrong.
Most successful leaders lead with their emotions. Elon Musk put his entire life’s savings into his current batch of companies, Tesla, and Space X there is nothing rational about putting your entire life’s savings into something you ‘feel’ like doing. Richard Branson did the same thing when he started Virgin Airlines. Steve Jobs said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. I know its ironic that the examples I gave were all men, but I am trying to prove a point here.
Women are emotional creatures and as a result they seem to be very good at ‘trusting their gut’ and ‘following their heart’. I think what we’ve been taught in business today, to be 100% rational just doesn’t work. I’ve found that for me leading with 80% emotion, and following up with 20% rationalization seems to be a good balance. I’ve personally saved time and money because I made decisions based on my emotion and ‘trusting my gut’. Having emotional quotient that will give you the balance to lead successfully is extremely important. Gary Vaynerchuk said that “EQ is more important that IQ” for leadership and entrepreneurship, I completely agree.
I am extremely lucky to be an entrepreneur here in Bangkok, Thailand. Equality in the workspace seem to be much better here than other countries. As a result there are now a lot of strong women in leadership positions. I’ve also had a chance to meet and work with a lot of them and exchanged thoughts learned from them to fill my own personal gaps over the years. I’m still continuing this journey.