Secrets of Successful Businesswomen
In February of 2002, Martha Lagace published an article that outlined five character traits and lifestyle habits observed by some of the most successful women in business. “Women have always been dynamic, and they’ve always been in business,” declared Nancy Koehn, a historian, author, and Harvard Business School professor. “How many of us multi-tasked to get here today?” Koehn asked the audience. Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand.
By a show of hands, “How many of you would be fifteen minutes late for an appointment with your CEO?”Gail McGovern, president of Fidelity Personal Investments, scanned the audience, but only a few hands went up. “Now, how many of you would be fifteen minutes late for an appointment with a friend or family member?” she asked. Nearly half of the 900 attendees of the Dynamic Women in Business Conference raised their hands. McGovern, one of Fortune magazine’s fifty most powerful women in corporate America in 2002, smiled and nodded knowingly.
Then McGovern gave the following counsel: “Treat the appointment with your family like you would treat the appointment with your CEO,” she said. “Put it right on your calendar. That is your appointment. It is as sacred as the appointment that you have with the CEO.”
She then went on to five important principles for women working in business:
1. Strike a Balance Between Work and Personal Life
Striking a proper balance between work and personal life is often the greatest challenge for Women in Business, but always the most important! Establish a balanced lifestyle from the very beginning of your career. And consider having a personal checklist that you go through each day to make sure your life is staying balanced.
2. Attract, Attain, and Motivate Bright People
Of all the five principles, McGovern acknowledged that this was the one that has helped her most in her career. She pointed out that if you take the extra time to staff your business or organization with the best people possible, rather than operating in the interest of expediency, you’ll save yourself time and trouble in the long run. Even if you have bright people in your organization, they will leave if you don’t create and maintain an environment that allows them to achieve balance in their own lives.
3. Love and Embrace Change
The nature of business is change. Learn to deal with it effectively and use it as a launching pad for greater success.
4. Be Resilient
Deal with the “bumps” of business by maintaining a long-term perspective and being resilient.
5. Make Decisions Based on the Company Impact
Make every decision based on whether or not it’s good for the business. You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Well, what else would you base a decision on?” said McGovern. But surprisingly, there are many pressures and other commitments that factor into any business decision: What will my boss think? What will my team think? If you make smart business decisions, she said, you will make fewer mistakes. “And you know what? You’ll like yourself better. You’ll wake up in the morning, you’ll like who you see in the mirror. People will trust you. They will think you have integrity and that’s because you DO have integrity! You’ll also make decisions faster because you’re not thinking about what everybody else will think.”
In closing, McGovern expressed the unique traits and abilities that women bring to the business world. By following the five principles she suggested, McGovern promised greater success and happiness for women in the field.