As a female CEO and founder of multiple seven-figure businesses, I’ve been around the block a few times and understand what it takes to start, grow and scale a company. I’ve also spent a great deal of time with fellow CEOs, and I love understanding what works, what doesn’t and—especially—why.
Women have immense potential to lead but less than 2%—only 1.7%—of female founders ever break the million-dollar annual revenue mark.
So what makes women qualified to be great CEOs? Often, I’ve found, it’s exactly the attributes they’ve been antagonized for that are now taking center stage in the business landscape.
1️⃣ They’re Great At Collaboration
One thing recent events have shown us? We won’t win alone. To be successful in business today, we need great collaboration. Whether that looks like your sales team going the extra mile to meet objectives or allowing for enough flexibility to accommodate your employees, a Korn Ferry study found that female CEOs were “more likely to engage the power of teams” than their male counterparts. They scored “significantly higher than the benchmark group on humility—indicative of a consistent lack of self-promotion, an expressed appreciation for others, and a tendency to share the credit”—and “were more likely to leverage others to achieve desired results.” If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you’re building a business to last, fostering that sense of camaraderie and collaboration is what will stand the test of time.
2️⃣ They’re Capital Efficient
Let’s talk money. Companies with women at the C-level typically have profits that surpass those led by men, according to a 2019 S&P Global analysis. The same study demonstrated that organizations with female CEOs have more success producing “superior stock price performance, compared with the market average.” And in their first two years in the CEO role, these women’s companies saw a “20% boost in stock price momentum.”
Results matter, which is why it’s smart to appoint female CEOs as “companies with a female CEO or head of the board of directors had a 25% annualized return over eight years, compared to 11% for the broader worldwide index of firms,” according to a 2017 study by Finnish bank Nordea.
Even Shark Tank alum “Mr. Wonderful,” a.k.a. Kevin O’Leary, agrees, sharing in this article that his best-performing businesses are run by women: “One hundred percent of my returns the last six years have come from companies run by women,” O’Leary said, across different sectors and geographies. He speculates that women are more mindful of risk and better at time management, both crucial for the small companies in the Shark Tank pool.
3️⃣ They’re Emotionally Intelligent
The next time a male colleague claims you’re being “too emotional,” take it as a compliment: Emotional intelligence gives a distinct leadership edge. Emotionally intelligent CEOs understand that business is personal and rooted in relationships, and by proactively fostering those relationships, they also build their businesses. So much so that recent research confirms that women are rising to the top tiers of companies due in large part to their emotional intelligence.
4️⃣ They’re Multidimensional
So, what are women using all that emotional intelligence for? (Aside from growing profitable, collaborative companies?) According to studies, women tend to use both sides of their brains simultaneously. These studies show that women tend to connect both sides of their brain with more ease, which means they can think in a linear, logical and serial manner at the same time that they generate intuitive, holistic and creative thought patterns. This allows women to use both sides of the brain simultaneously, whereas men tend to use each hemisphere sequentially.
5️⃣ They Care
The science is clear: On average, women tend to be more empathetic and sensitive to the emotions of others than their male counterparts. A recent study measured fMRI brain activity and found that women in the study were more empathetic to other people’s pain. Women are often nurturers, and that inherent level of care often extends to their work, companies and teams.
The science is clear, but today, society is clear, too: Women who tap into strengths of empathy and being emotionally intelligent, capital-efficient, multidimensional and collaborative have a tremendous opportunity to lead and succeed.