5 Tips for Aspiring Women Leaders & Entrepreneurs

5 Tips from Nikki Watkins for the Aspiring Women Leader and Entrepreneur

Whilst mentoring some enthusiastic girls at the recent WOW Talks “Women in Tech” event, which introduced over 400 young females to tech in all its forms, I was struck by a thought.  Like countless young women before them, these girls were full of hope and aspirations of success, and yet the business world was still a mystery to them.  They had not yet considered that how they enter the professional world might define just how far they get.  Which led me to wondering – how many of us have really thought about how we approach our professional lives, and our futures?

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” – Roseanne Barr

Whether you’re a corporate leader mentoring the women in your organisation, or a business owner considering your own future success as an entrepreneur, here are 5 questions to ask and 5 tips which have helped women get to the top of their chosen business sectors. . . and stay there.

Q1:     What’s your genius?
Having spent six years running my own business which helps individuals, teams and their businesses become their own version of extraordinary, it is a relief to see that the world is starting to recognise the important role women do, can, and should, play in the world – both in business and at home.  Where once women were subordinated, ignored, or passed over, there is an awakening from all corners that we are equal.  But this does not mean that we are all the same.  It is vital to remember that whilst we bring value to the world, we do so in our own unique ways.

Tip #1:  Identify what differentiates your way of working from other people’s.
When you are at your best, how are you being?  The more congruent we are with our true self, the more we bring that whole self into our businesses, resulting in more contributions, more success and better connections.  You don’t need to be like someone else to succeed – you just need to be your best self. As Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Q2:  What’s your future?
It is always delightful to see the sparkly eyes of young women who are aspiring entrepreneurs or future leaders – they are the ones who know they can impact the world, but haven’t yet figured out who they are or how they will achieve it.  They might still hold some of the old patterns of thinking that we were all once plagued with (and perhaps still are), and yet they are willing to try new techniques and new ways of overcoming these unhelpful habits and thoughts, understanding that their future sits in their own hands.

Tip #2:  Visualise your future and embrace it.
Every thought leader on manifesting success talks about this concept.  You need to help your brain to become crystal clear on the future that you want; the clearer you are, the more able you will be to communicate it, get buy-in to it, align others behind it, and ultimately manifest it, for yourself and others.  Capture it, pictorially or otherwise, and keep revisiting it.  Behave in ways consistent with it and be open to learning opportunities.  As Amy Cuddy says in her TED talk on Body Language: “Fake it until you become it.”  The brain doesn’t know the difference.

Q3:  What’s your passion?
We are in the age of connectivity, increasingly obsessed with our digital devices – technology seems to be taking over.  It is vital therefore that we communicate and interact on a human level with other human beings.  Women have an edge in this because they generally have higher Emotional Intelligence, which means more resilience in the ever-changing work environments, as well as collaboration and relationship skills vital to maximising business motivation.  We need to balance out impersonal technology with personal human passions.

Tip #3:  Be Interesting and Interested.
Widen your horizons.  Consider your passions and become a thought leader in whatever those are.  Above all, be curious – about your own experiences and about others’.  The most successful entrepreneurs, leaders and team members don’t know all the answers; they are interested in multiple viewpoints, and open to learning.

Q4:  What’s your impact?
It is nearly two hundred years since organised campaigns for women’s suffrage began to appear in the UK, and although we still have some hills to climb, it is also true that women have more to shout about than ever. Women-led private technology companies achieve 35% higher return on investment than male-led tech companies. However, they also get much less access to funding in the first place, and are likely to understate rather than overstate their potential performance.

Tip #4:  Don’t just work hard – shout about it!
It is likely if you are a business owner that you have no marketing budget so utilising social media will need to become a major strategy for you.  Using your network for introductions to the right people, and getting them talking about you and introducing you, will make a difference. Women are renowned for not sharing the good news or self-promoting, expecting that people will ‘just know’ that they have performed.  Encourage them to build this muscle early in business, so that they understand the importance of sharing impact without bragging, and taking ownership for their success.

Q5:  What’s your brand image?
The connection between your company brand and your talent brand has never been more important. Glass Door provides insider information on the type of company that you really are, as some companies have found to their detriment.  It doesn’t matter whether there’s a fussball table if the company has no intention of expanding the knowledge and skills of its people.  It is not what is written on the walls or having a cool office: you need to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.

Tip #5:  Authenticity matters to both women and the younger generation
Attracting and developing aspiring females plays into this too. The millennials are a particularly selective group when it comes to working on something they believe adds value; they want a life, not work-life balance, they want to be included in problem solving, and they want to work for companies with a purpose.

Written by Nikki Watkins via Business Zone