No matter what role you’re currently in, there is always the opportunity to lead. Whether you’re taking on more leadership opportunities at your day-to-day job, are in charge of a project or event with a volunteer organization, want to improve your mentorship skills or are simply looking to learn more about how you can refresh your leadership skills for a role you’ve been in a while, it’s often helpful to take a step back examine what skills and qualities successful leaders have.
To help get a better understanding of the specific traits and qualities female leaders embrace, we connected with Kali Rogers, CEO and founder of Blush Online Life Coaching, and Heather Marie, founder and CEO of Shoppable. Here’s what these two CEOs have to say about which qualities we should focus on to help us be successful leaders.
According to Rogers, empathy is a key trait of successful female leaders. Fortunately, many women embrace this quality without even trying, especially when it comes to dealing with others. Because understanding people can be arguably just as important as understanding your business or job, she says this can increase your success as a leader, as “you will be able to better understand the hardships, frustrations and motivation behind all of your team members.”
Surprises and obstacles are inevitable, but it’s how you bounce back that counts the most, suggests Marie. Whether you take two steps forward and one step back, hear “no” more often than you hear “yes” or something knocks you off your path, keep going. Setbacks happen. And often times, setbacks provide good opportunities to re-evaluate, re-organize and, sometimes, re-approach. This takes grit and commitment, but is critical for growth.
Not only is communication an incredibly valuable skill for everyday life, this skill is key to running a business at all levels, not just as the CEO or as a leader. “Keeping team members informed, being able to express yourself accurately during meetings and having the ability to connect with others is a strength for leaders,” says Rogers.
Aside from communicating with large groups, leaders make people feel comfortable one on one. The more comfortable team members, potential investors or clients feel with leadership and/or the CEO, the better for the company, suggests Rogers.
As noted above, effective communication is so important for female leaders, but leaders also need to be excellent listeners. Successful leaders and CEOs listen to their teams and clients about their grievances, victories and setbacks.
In addition to listening to others, “you should also listen to yourself,” says Rogers. “Successful leaders are in tune with their own feelings, which allows them to have a pulse on the people within their company at all times.”
Whether you’ve committed to a morning workout or need to make tough decisions for your company or team, making and keeping commitments can be tough. But you have to do it, Marie says. “People will try to talk you out of decisions all the time, but only you know what’s really best for your life, career or company. Being a leader and the road to CEO takes commitment, and that means sticking to your guns and doing whatever it takes to stay focused on moving forward toward success.”
Be confident in what you know and what you don’t know. If you know the answer, speak up and say so. Even if you think it will be unpopular. If you don’t know, that’s okay, too. And remember, it’s always appropriate to say, “I’m not sure about that. Let me look into it and get back to you.”
“It’s also good to educate yourself as much as possible from all angles, as it will help you feel more confident. Keep in mind, 90% of what people hear is not what you say but how you say it,” Marie says.