The old saying “It’s a men’s world” seems to be no longer as popular as it used to. In the recent years, women entrepreneurs have become a growing force in the U.S. economy leading both firms and self-employed businesses. Scholarly data confirms women’s importance in business. Despite the fact that only a small percentage of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies are held by women (as of 2006, it was 15.6%), the dimension of women’s participation in the business world is expanding worldwide and, in particular, in North America (Werhane xvii; Periz-Ortiz, Rueda-Armengot, & Osorio 343). To illustrate this statement the following examples can be used: 10.4 million firms were headed by women in 2006 (Werhane 1).Besides, these days the percentage of female students who study for an MBA degree makes up a third, while two leading schools Wharton and Harvard are about to achieve the MBA gender parity (Symonds). As more and women take leadership positions and succeed in the modern business world, the question of the key qualities women should possess for becoming successful in this sphere is getting widely discussed. This essay looks into the key qualities needed for a woman in order to succeed in business and discusses how I can develop these qualities during the studies at Hult. It also reflects on why it is important for the society to have women in leadership positions in business.
Before defining the key qualities women need to be successful in business, let us first decide what is meant by business. The accepted understanding of business is that of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship, in its turn, is “the study of sources of opportunities; the processes of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities; and the set of individuals who discover, evaluate, and explore them” (Shane & Venkataraman 218 in Periz-Ortiz, Rueda-Armengot, & Osorio 345). What does entrepreneurial activity involve in terms of personal qualities? According to the researchers Periz-Ortiz, Rueda-Armengot, & Osorio, this kind of activity is carried out in three dimensions: individual, corporate, and social. The individual dimension relates to an entrepreneur’s ability to display the traits that are useful for opportunity discovery; the second one, the corporate dimension, relates to cooperation and experience related to working for an organization; finally, the social dimension is that of commitment to social needs (Periz-Ortiz, Rueda-Armengot, & Osorio 344).
Based on the definition provided above some key qualities for a woman who wants to succeed individual or corporate entrepreneurship are a strong sense of the goal, excellent leadership qualities, integrity and a strong sense of personal ethics. In the following paragraphs these qualities will be discussed in detail.
Having a strong sense of the goal is a crucial quality for a woman who wishes to succeed as an entrepreneur. If we look at career paths of successful women entrepreneurs, we will see that they have been committed to achieving the set goal and filled their everyday activity in business with that higher sense of the importance of what they do. For example, Debbie Fields, a famous U.S. female founder of a snack food imperium Mrs. Fields Bakeries, confesses that on her way to success she acted as a woman who had a mission. She says, “I would stop people, even buses I would stop and say ‘Here, you’ve got to taste these cookies’. Just try them.” (Martins).
Further, excellent leadership qualities are vital for a woman who wants to succeed in the world of business. Leadership is about the ability to inspire, motivate, and amass other people towards reaching a common goal. Also, a leader is a person who is a professional and moral authority for other people. To be a true leader any woman involved in the business world has to possess the following crucial qualities: assertiveness in taking action, willingness to explore new dimensions and learn new things, self-belief, and willingness to fail. Assertiveness in taking action is about making things happen rather than thinking that these things will happen. As Stephanie Aldrich explains, it is about taking action, proceeding forward, and “hunting the game” (Aldrich 50). Willingness to explore new things is essential for anyone engaged in business, since, as one can see from the definition, entrepreneurship is all about discovering new opportunities and exploring them. Hence, the drive to improve the existing things, discover new things, as well as gain knowledge necessary for this is very important. As for self-belief, this is the basis of any woman’s leadership qualities. All successful women entrepreneurs were driven by their self-belief. For example, Oprah Winfrey, a host of a mega-popular U.S. female talk show, was driven by her faith in her talent as a public speaker and capitalized on her talent to make her show stand out. She is now thought to be the richest African American woman in the United States, and, perhaps, in the whole world. In addition, no successful leader can evolve without being prepared for failures and having an internal willingness to fail.
Integrity and the sense of personal ethics are indispensable qualities of any woman who wishes to succeed in the business world. William Damon, a U.S. professor and researcher, advocates for a moral route to business success. While for many people, moral seems to be the last word associated with business, many successful entrepreneurs have achieved success while doing work that is “both excellent and ethical.” Integrity and ethics should be the qualities that women entrepreneurs will capitalize on.
As for me, I possess these qualities to a different extent. For example, I have a strong sense of purpose, self-belief, and integrity. Also, I can inspire and lead people to achieving the set goals and set achievable goals. I am open to new experience and knowledge, and I am rather assertive and persistent when it comes to achieving my goals. Indeed, I have that inner drive that motivates me and keeps me going in pursuing my dream career in business. However, I feel I lack knowledge and expertise needed for excellent business activity. I know I have yet to learn a lot of professional principles, professional knowledge, and learn to manage my time in a better way. Besides, I find it hard to be prepared for failures. Studies at Hult will help me gain professional expertise, will guide me through the complex web of business world concepts, principles, and relationships, and foster my leadership growth. They will help me evolve as a successful starter in the male-dominated business world and equip me with necessary academic background to lead other people to success.
Finally, I believe it is necessary to have more women as leaders, since women possess those important characteristics that men do not and those talents that me do not. Specifically, women, as the history shows, can combine critical leadership characteristics with their natural kindness, commitment to social causes, responsibilities before the communities, and moral integrity. Besides, gender parity in leadership will ensure equality in workplace and the creation of a more just world of work and business.
- Aldrich, Stephanie. There’s No Crying in the Man’s World: A Woman’s Guide to Succeeding
in Business. iUniverse, 2007. Print.
- Damon, William. The Moral Advantage: How to Succeed in Business by Doing the Right
Thing. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004. Print.
- Martins, Ajaero. “10 Traits of Successful Women Entrepreneurs.” Top Business Ideas. 2013.
Web. 28 Dec. 2013.
- Peris-Ortiz, Marta, Carlos Rueda-Armengot, & Diana Benito Osorio. “Women in Business:
Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Efficiency.” Int Entrep Manag J 8 (2012):343–354. Print.
- Symonds, Matt. “10 Traits of Women Business Leaders: They’re Not What You Think.”
Forbes. August 8, 2012. Web. December 27, 2013.