21st Century Business Women

 By: Jane Foster
When the first generation of women entered the workforce in earnest in the 1970s, they succeeded in the only way they could - by imitating men. Authoritarian leadership and tight control was the hallmark of that days businessman, and women were not exactly welcomed into the ranks of management. Well ladies, that was yesterday, and today is today!

Forget what your mama or your boss told you, because following the rules can be bad for your career. Todays CEO/entrepreneur can no longer tap his/her companys full potential using a "command-and-control" style. The 21st century business woman needs to be able to build a vision based on the awareness of economic transformation, then help her partners and staff fulfill that vision. She must draw on a wide range of skills to get to the top and stay there. Following are 7 Key Characteristics that are essential:

1. Sell the Vision: A leader with a fresh, independent plan for her companys growth and future has a distinct advantage in luring and keeping great talent and investors. Vision is not some lofty ideal, but an obtainable concept that is easy to understand and will make the company grow to another level.

2. Reinvent the Rules: While women have traditionally been socialized to please others, the 21st century leader knows that good girls rarely post great returns. The strong managers/owners today not only anticipate change, they create entirely new organizations that respond to shifts and search for innovation.

3. Achieve With A Laser Focus: Go where others fear to tread! Being aggressive and ambitious has long been considered male traits, but they are key qualities for new leaders. Todays business woman has the ability to home in on opportunities that others may simply not see, and then excel in that uncharted territory.

4. Use High-Touch in a High-Tech Era: When a number of leaders are conducting business by e-mail, voice mail, passwords, and PINs, the female entrepreneur succeeds because she guides with a strong, personal, bed-side manner. Todays business woman is just as technologically savvy as her peers, but her skill with staff and customers is "high-touch" which gives her a critical edge and separation from the "pack".

5. Challenge or Opportunity? - Women are great at turning a challenge into an opportunity instead of using the "slash-and-burn" approach. They are able to make bold strokes, but they also win the cooperation of others in the organization in making any transformation a success.
6. A Customer Preference Obsession: In this information age which makes it easier to shop around for the best "whatever", businesses must work harder to give people what they want before their competitors do. There is no substitute for spending time with clients to become expert at their businesses and learn their demands. Female leaders are almost intuitively adept in doing just that, and without the client even suspecting.

7. Courage Under Fire: Show me any career woman or female entrepreneur today that isnt able to "stand-the-heat" in any tough-call situation. Their decision-making skills are rooted in a high level of confidence, because theyve had to weather and surpass any and all "corporate" storms theyve encountered over time.

It takes a certain mind-set and bravado for anyone to start their own business and succeed, but its even more difficult for a female entrepreneur. Lets face it, ladies! Weve always had to be twice-as-smart and twice-as-confident as any male counterpart in the corporate world. After all, if we can bear and raise the future generation, how can running a successful business scare us?
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