In the past, business was viewed as very much a man’s world, but as opportunities for women in the workplace have expanded, female entrepreneurs have started to seize the initiative and make their presence felt. Indeed, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor there were an estimated 126 million women starting or running new businesses around the world in 2012. Meanwhile, 98 million female entrepreneurs were in charge of established companies and 48 million women business owners employed one or more people in their companies.
It’s not surprising that women are taking to the business sphere in such numbers. Female entrepreneurs can possess a whole range of skills and strengths that make them excellent leaders and decision makers, and here are just a few.
Social and emotional intelligence
One of things that can help to set businesswomen apart is their impressive levels of social and emotional intelligence. According to Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, while men tend to think in a more systemised manner, women can be better at empathising.
This may help female entrepreneurs in a whole range of ways. By being attuned to the feelings of those around them, women can build strong interpersonal relationships that benefit their businesses. These skills are helpful when it comes to building trust and growing influence. They might also help women to create more harmonious working environments. In addition, strong emotional intelligence could prove useful when it comes to responding to customer needs and desires. Ultimately, this is good news for companies’ sales figures and their bottom lines.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the personalities of men and women in the business realm, but women are typically associated with higher levels of this particular type of intelligence.
Curiosity and lifelong learning
Many women, particularly those working in male-dominated industries, must work especially hard to achieve the success they’re after. They also often feel a strong need to prove themselves and show that they’re more than capable of performing their roles. One effect of this continual striving is that women can be more open to and curious about lifelong learning opportunities. By taking additional qualifications to enhance their CVs, they can be sure to demonstrate their skills and expertise beyond all doubt.
One popular option among ambitious entrepreneurs, both men and women, is the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Many people who are either already running a company or in full-time employment opt for the executive MBA. Designed for working professionals, these courses tend to be flexible and allow students to fit their study around their busy schedules. For instance, learners can often attend classes in the evenings and at weekends. This can be a must for busy businesswomen who struggle to take time out during the typical working day.
The thirst for knowledge and readiness to learn that many female entrepreneurs show is helping to redefine gender roles and stereotypes in the workplace.
Cooperation and collaboration
Another skill that is often associated with women is a willingness and desire to cooperate and collaborate with others. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that women are often eager to pool their knowledge and abilities with others to achieve the best results, and a number of scientific studies have backed this idea up. Research conducted by Peter Kuhn and Marie-Claire Villeval for the National Bureau of Economic Research suggested that women were more likely to defer to their peers in group scenarios.
Knowing when to delegate tasks and when to tap the expertise of others is a crucial business skill. It can help people to run their organisations more efficiently and effectively, and enable them to gain a competitive edge over their rivals. In contrast, trying to be a jack of all trades and micro-manage all aspects of a business can have disastrous consequences for bosses. As well as causing potentially unmanageable levels of stress and pressure, this approach can lead to mistakes, not to mention foster discontent among workers, who may feel undervalued or unappreciated. The best business leaders tend to be those who know how to put a good team together and who then go on to make full use of the talents of their personnel.
Striking the right balance
Another string to the bows of many businesswomen is the fact that they often have interests outside of the work arena that can help to give them a more balanced approach to their tasks. Lots of women play important roles looking after loved ones. This can bring a myriad of benefits to businesses. By striking the right balance, bosses stand a better chance of being able to think clearly and avoid suffering from tunnel vision. Also, by operating in different capacities in the office, at home and elsewhere, women can ensure they bring a wide range of skills to the workplace.
Given the many advantageous qualities that women have to offer the world of commerce, it should come as no surprise that they’re making such big waves in modern business. It seems likely that as opportunities for women continue to expand in many countries across the globe, the influence and success of female entrepreneurs will go from strength to strength.