“Who runs the world? Girls”. According to Beyoncé at least. I’m not going to argue with her. Do you know who her husband is?
And oh that this were true, IMHO. I am a proud feminist so I would hold this view. And it is the natural pecking order after all. Woman creates man.
Lest I lose my male readers I should refocus on the topic in hand: leadership. Not an uncommon topic for an executive coach to be writing about. And recently I spoke at an event for “Exceptional Female Entrepreneurs”, sponsored and hosted by Haysmacintyre. So it got me thinking about what makes an exceptional female entrepreneur and business leader? And, as I listed out the ‘ingredients’ – or values - that are at the top of my female leadership list, I realised I conveniently had four words that begin with C (convenient because it makes it easier for my addled brain to recall!):
Courage – exceptional leaders have the courage not to be scared about what other people think, the courage to be authentic, to show emotional intelligence, and to show vulnerability (I recommend you read Brene Brown’s work on this subject, starting with her amazing TED Talk: “The Power Of Vulnerability”)
Compassion – exceptional leaders show warmth, respect, kindness and benevolence. When they see suffering they want to help. The business world is tough and there is much stress and anxiety. Those leaders who empathise, who don’t accept the status quo and who have their employees’ backs are the great ones.
Camaraderie – exceptional leaders understand that “we’re in it together”. It is rarely just a job to an exceptional leader but a journey that we’re all on together. Exceptional women leaders and entrepreneurs seek close professional connections, don’t feel threatened by one another and in fact support and empower ‘the sisterhood’ towards success. Conversely, women who criticise
other women, turn their backs on other women, and abuse positions of authority or influence to tell women they’re not good enough are beyond contempt, in my book. As my friend and mentor Mary Keane-Dawson said on a women’s networking panel: “those women will burn in hell”. And more than concurring, I am actually keeping a black book with these women’s names in it. So feel free to let me know if you have any names to add to Satan’s register.
Care – exceptional leaders understand that in order to excel and to succeed they must create time for self-care, for regular recovery. This can take the form of ‘pauses’ throughout the day – time to reflect, breath, be in the present. A walk around the block, a cup of tea away from your desk, a run before work or yoga session. Or a week’s retreat every year. Companies are historically poor at overtly encouraging or prioritising recovery time. So what happens? Thrive turns to survive turns to burnout or inertia. So we have to take it upon ourselves to take great care of ourselves.
Women are different to men - it is biologically proven. And we should make no apology for being so – in life and in business. Successful organisations need more senior female execs not because equality per se is important, but because of what human nature demands: humanity. Successful leaders are courageous, compassionate and supportive – they are leaders who win not just the race but hearts and minds too.
“My persuasion can build a nation. Endless power, the love we can devour” (you gotta love Queen Bey!)