Throughout the years, women have faced – and continue to face – numerous challenges when it comes to succeeding in business. Yet despite significant challenges, female leaders are becoming more and more common – and they’re making a positive and powerful impact on society.
What are some characteristics that great women leaders share? We’ve put together a list of 5 of the best traits of powerful female leaders, as well as a few inspirational quotes from real women who are paving the way for future generations – in politics, business and beyond.
“Hope and change are hard-fought things.” – Michelle Obama
1. They work hard
Women who excel in leadership roles have a clear vision of what they want and what they need to do to get there. Their personal and professional goals are important to them, and obtaining success (whatever that means to them) is at the top of their list. They’re aware that it takes hard work and commitment to succeed, and they’re willing to work to achieve it.
Women leaders often need to juggle multiple roles or balance different areas of life in order to focus on their careers and professional aspirations. But they know with complete clarity what they want, and they’re willing to do what it takes to get there. The enthusiasm and strength these women possess is apparent to all who meet them, in both professional and personal settings.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you.” – Oprah Winfrey
2. They recognize their own strengths (and weaknesses)
Great women leaders have a strong understanding of their own gifts, and they understand the significance of these strengths and the role they play in their ability to succeed. Great leaders know what they can do well, and they use these assets to their advantage to help them excel in what they want to do.
Conversely, great women leaders also know their own weaknesses. Instead of letting weaknesses limit them, however, great leaders surround themselves with people who can support them and make them better.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
3. They take risks
The greatest women leaders are confident in making decisions, even when those decisions are difficult or represent big risks. They rarely procrastinate or hesitate, and they are are remarkably assertive and influential. They don’t wait for direction – they jump in and get things done. They’re known for coming up with innovative solutions, because they aren’t afraid to take big risks or question rules and regulation in order to get the results they want.
Perhaps most importantly, as Margaret Thatcher reminds us below? Great women leaders aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers when it comes to getting things done.
“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher
4. They welcome change and challenges
Successful women leaders don’t just embrace challenges – they face them head-on. Moreover, they are excellent listeners, they seek out feedback, and they are genuinely interested in what others have to say about the issues they are faced with. Highly respected women listen to multiple points of views before they decide on the best possible decision.
Great women leaders welcome challenges, but they also welcome change. Women who are frontrunners in any industry embrace change, because they know that true progress can only be achieved through adaptation and innovation.
“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” – Nadia Comaneci
5. They have a strong desire to make a difference
All great leaders, regardless of gender, should be kindhearted and giving of themselves. This is a trait that’s even more evident in great women leaders, in every field and from all walks of life. Truly successful leaders not only have an incredible desire to lead, but also to help others and make a difference.
The most successful female leaders believe in the value of paying it forward, and they practice what they preach.
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” – Mother Teresa
What characteristics do you think great women leaders share?