Famed speaker and author Tony Robinson once said: “Success leaves clues. People who produce outstanding results are not lucky, rather they do very specific things to create those results.”
This statement couldn’t be truer as it relates to the most powerful female CEO’s in America. They share common traits that not only set them apart from their male counterparts but other female entrepreneurs as well. When you examine their behavior and thought patterns, it’s clear that they share a set of focused habits that have helped them achieve their amazing successes.
What do women like Marilyn Hewson, Mary T. Barra, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg have in common? What are their personal habits and what drives them to reach their goals?
These are the 5 most recognizable traits of the most powerful businesswomen in America:
1. High sense of empathy.
In general, women are known to be more empathetic than men. While this can oftentimes be considered as a disadvantage in the ruthless world of business, it’s certainly proven itself an advantage in the innovative start-up world. This heightened empathy makes it easier to effectively relate to a customer’s needs, providing a clear understanding of what buyers ultimately desire.This results in products that better resonate with end users.
Mary Barra outsold Elon Musk’s highly anticipated vehicle, the Tesla model 3 by understanding that people wanted a cheap electric car with a longer battery life and she saw to it that Chevrolet delivered with the “Bolt EV”. The Bolt EV is now the best-selling electric car in the US.
Similarly, Sandberg’s reforms are largely considered responsible for the record-high revenues at Facebook, netting nearly $30B in 2016. Empathy is one of the key reasons women thrive in the innovation’s industry, whether it’d be car manufacturing or advertising.
2. Success Modelling.
The most powerful businesswomen have mentors that give them guidance and serve as models of success. Sandberg met her mentor Larry Summers at Harvard where he worked as a professor before going on to become the U.S. Treasury Secretary. She credits him for giving her guidance in her formative years and often shares that she was groomed by the best. Summers described Sandburg as always “being in his face,” eager to get ahead and learn every detail.
This practice is a recurring amongst successful women: Meyer was mentored by Google’s CEO, Larry Page, serving as his protégé before she went on to become his biggest competitor. Oprah Winfrey was mentored by famed author Maya Angelou. Whitman was mentored by her father, Hendricks Hallett Whitman JR., founder and president of a prestigious financial advisory firm. Much like their male counterparts, not a single noteworthy female CEO has gone without guidance and mentorship.
3. Integrity.
The most powerful female entrepreneurs hold themselves and those around them to the highest standards of integrity. When they say they’re going to do something, they actually get it done no matter what. In an interview with The Guardian, Summers was quoted as saying “if Sandberg had 30 items on her to do list for the day, she would have 30 checks on it by sundown.” In this vein, Barra often shares a lesson learned from a former manager, quoting her as saying “Commitments are commitments, and honoring them demonstrates discipline.”
4. They don’t allow themselves to be limited by their gender.
These powerful women have achieved unparalleled levels of success by ejecting any perceived boundaries or limitations that are often expected of women. Instead, they were able to plow straight through the glass ceiling, passionately growing their companies with drive and precision. Referring to frustrations experienced as a woman in the automotive industry, Barra told the Wall Street Journal, “In many industries, including ours, we see women removing themselves from opportunities too early. Stay in the game!”
Their fearless dedication to their craft transformed them into unstoppable forces in the business world while still successfully raising families.
5. They’re confident negotiators.
How is Hewson able to consistently close multi-billion dollar defense deals? Through confident, calculated negotiation. As Hewson once said in an article posted to her LinkedIn profile, “The best candidates make a strong case for themselves. They can clearly articulate why they are the best choice for the job and they can tell what unique qualities they bring that no one else can offer.” Hewson has embodied this notion, ultimately allowing Lockheed Martin to retain the U.S. government as its main client, despite Trump’s comments on the “overpriced” F-35.
When looking at the powerful traits of these amazing women, it becomes abundantly clear that their successes were not created by accident or luck. Between the shrewd and strategic decision-making, commitment to hard work and absolute passion and enthusiasm for their craft, it’s easy to see how they have staked their claim as some of the most formidable figures in business. And not simply “for a girl.”