Despite statistics showing that women only make up a mere 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs in the United States, their capabilities to lead industries are shown time and time again to rival and surpass those of their male counterparts. Beating the odds is quite an achievement for women CEOs in corporate America due to numerous obstacles, but even better is the possibility of doing so while gaining much deserved respect.
Let’s explore the best ways in which your leadership can be the example that earns you the utmost accolades as an entrepreneur.
Earning Respect as a Woman CEO
Make Time for Self-Reflection
Self-reflection is a quality that all leaders should have or at least work on to set a better example for their teams. It allows you to understand if you’re navigating through your day teaching and playing up your strengths, while working on yourself where weaknesses exist. A desire to continue to learn and improve continuously is all part of the equation to succeed as a leader.
Stay in the Know Through Communication
You should understand what your employees are working on and the effort it takes to achieve the goals you want them to meet. If you’re unfamiliar with your team’s projects, a small meeting can help you grasp exactly how much work goes into completing a task; this can help you set realistic expectations and avoid misunderstandings concerning deadlines.
Since communication is one sure way to win as a team, as the CEO, you should work on being approachable, having an open door policy, and checking your superiority complex at the door. No one likes a know-it-all or a boss who doesn’t value others’ opinions. If you close yourself off to your employees, you can create a comfort imbalance and prevent people from sharing useful ideas that can benefit the company in different ways.
Being approachable is not only the right attitude with which to lead, but it’s the best to have. Anything that will help with this is bound to set you apart from bad leaders; try something as simple as a smile, greeting, etc. An inviting demeanor will make it easier for your employees to keep you informed and will ensure they let you know when work issues arise sooner rather than later — without fearing a negative response or other repercussion.
Learn to Listen
Listening to your employees is always key. Allow them to suggest ways in which your company may become more efficient or even better. Some repetitive, large tasks may have a faster and easier solution that can be solved by an employee assigned to said task.
Based on the level of experience, employee suggestions can be priceless as they could lead to more productivity and the employee to feel heard. Even newcomers will have fresh ideas and be able to assess company routines and daily dynamics with an objective eye and a different perspective.
Listening creates a sense of mutual respect, makes employees feel valued, and turns you into a caring and great boss. After all, we all have so much to learn from each other. By using this approach, everyone wins!
Support Your Biggest Supporters
Needless to say, people should feel support from you as their CEO, especially since your employees' actions are supporting your company and vision. If you are a likeable boss, your employees will want to see you and your business thrive and succeed.
You can support your team by providing the right tools to get the job done and expressing appreciation for completed milestones. It’s important to celebrate your team, department, and overall company victories. This creates a team mentality and shows gratitude for the efforts your employees make on a daily basis, while maintaining a happy, productive workforce.
Another way to support your employees is by showing empathy when your employees are going through difficult times. Remember, we’re all human and life happens. Learn to accommodate their needs whenever possible. They will return the favor through their actions in the workplace.
Don’t forget to acknowledge and reward employees, especially those who always push to improve themselves and your company. Pointing out a job well done or giving out a bonus or even a small raise may help you retain a good employee who works hard, but may feel unappreciated.
If you keep this in mind, you’ll have so much more to gain than supporters — you’ll gain loyalty.
Stay on Top of Your Game
It’s imperative to read up on your industry and keep an eye out for innovation. This will not only make you knowledgeable, but will determine whether you or your competition will survive future changes that may affect your business. By further learning about your industry, you’ll stay current and figure out how to improve or expand your company and increase profitability.
Leading is about educating yourself, taking calculated risks, working and leading by example, being proactive, and figuring out the unknowns throughout the process.
Let Others See Your Passion
Know that passion is contagious. If you love what you do and strongly believe in it, others in your team will also feel the same. Passion can inspire a team to strive for more and can be the determining factor in driving your company toward success at a faster rate — it’s a bit of a catalyst.
Passion can also be a form of internal marketing. If your employees see how much you care for your business and see you get involved in creating new strategies to promote success, it can lead your employees to work harder and do the same.
Learn to Embrace Failure
Nothing will be perfect all the time. The best leaders have failed many times and learned from their mistakes. Remember, no one is born knowing how to run a company and lead. As the old adage says, “Leaders aren’t born, they’re made;” this is because different situations have served as lessons on how to figure out or improve upon previous strategies and new goals. The key is to embrace the bad with the good and remain positive at all times.
Entrepreneurship can be a bumpy ride, but don’t give up on your dreams due to occasional mishaps — it’s okay to be imperfect and human. Whenever failure strikes, read and educate yourself on how your industry and other leaders handle whatever trouble has surfaced. Confront the problem sooner rather than later head on, so you can quickly correct the mistake.
Try not to dwell on the problem, but rather focus on solutions that will give you the best result. If you need to do so, consult other company owners who have faced similar problems and ask how they were able to overcome them. There are many women networking events that can provide the support you need to help you get through any difficulties.
Always keep in mind that you too can overcome obstacles and failure, especially because others have proven that it’s possible. All you have to do is continue moving forward in the direction of success.
Understand Your Priorities
Identify and execute priorities in your daily routine. If tasks seem overwhelming, create a list and start from there. As you check all your to-dos, you might even find yourself with extra time to add additional items to your list. Priorities lead to productivity, which leads to accomplishing goals and becoming a better and organized leader.
Set High Goals
If you plan on overachieving, you will always raise the bar a bit and accomplish more than your competitors' average expectations. High goals mean better work ethic, improved quality of products or services, and more profits you can use to take your company to the next level. If you always aim high, you’ll reach more than your envisioned goals.