Women lead differently from men — and that’s a good thing, according to Susan T. Spencer, an entrepreneur and business professional who has risen to the top in more than one male-dominated industry. In her book Briefcase Essentials (www.BriefcaseEssentials.com), she identifies 12 natural talents that all women possess that help them lead and succeed. Here are a few qualities you can make work for you in a professional setting.
Perceptive Communication: Women are natural communicators. Women’s ability to communicate is not just their ability to talk; they are sensitive to what others are thinking. All of women’s senses contribute to their special talent (touch, smell, taste, vision, and hearing), giving them a decided advantage in evaluating a business situation. These traits, along with other observations that women instinctively notice, such as body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body movements, collectively represent what women in business uniquely possess — the ability to be perceptive communicators.
Being Empathetic: The ability to identify with and understand someone else’s feelings or difficulties is a female leadership skill that engenders employee loyalty and trust. It’s a rare moment when most bosses or figures of authority show the softer, more emotional side of themselves, but if it’s sincere, it’s a moment that will be appreciated forever by everyone who witnesses it. Empathy is an awesome skill when it is used carefully and wisely in business situations.
Being Engaging: When women greet each other, they hug, they smile, and they look each other in the eye and say how good it is to see one another. This is true even if they’re business colleagues. These gestures are more than symbolic — it’s how women use body language to communicate the importance of relationships. When you meet a businessperson in the ordinary course of business, being engaging includes the way you meet and greet other businesspersons. It begins the moment you extend your hand and continues throughout the greeting. Don’t miss an opportunity to make a great initial impression by using your natural skill of being engaging.
Being Inclusive: Businesswomen are comfortable relating one-on-one with people at all levels of an organization. We make it a point to know the names and faces of people we are working with; we want them to know us and we want to feel comfortable with them as well. Businessmen tend to act impersonally and do not interact at all levels; in other words they are exclusive, not inclusive. For women the term “inclusive” carries with it an implicit acknowledgement that “people come first.” By being inclusive with every business contact — whether customer, supplier, or employee — the natural talents that women apply to business give them a decisive edge.
Being Resourceful: One of the most important business skills — and a talent that women seem to be able to handle better than men, is juggling lots of balls in the air at one time. Women problem-solve the same way — they think about several options instead of zeroing in on one, toss them around in their head, weigh alternatives, consider several points of view, and come up with more than one way to proceed.