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3 Ways to Thrive as Women in Business

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On the 2014 Fortune lists, women currently hold 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles while comprising 46.8 percent of the U.S. Labor Force. No surprise that as professional women, we’re still very much a minority at the top of corporate America. As a result, it’s incredibly important that we have our voices acknowledged, heard, and appreciated. There are still very prominent role models for us–one of my personal ones is Sheryl Sandberg, who has truly ignited the discussion on women in leadership in an ingenious way. She encouraged us to lean in, and we must encourage each other to continue leaning in. On that note, let’s together uncover the three ways to thrive as a woman in business.

1. Capitalize on opportunities by first raising your hand.

Remember in school, when the teacher asked a question, we’d quite literally raise our hand to answer first? Over time this burning desire to achieve and succeed dies down. Perhaps we become older and realize that maybe we don’t have all the answers and we shouldn’t be volunteering first. In this Forbes article titled “5 Ways To close The Ambition Gap,” the point is made that while young boys are encouraged to develop risk-taking and competitive behaviors, girls are discouraged from exhibiting the same competitive behaviors that ultimately drive leadership. It’s thus so critical that we continue to lean in by quite literally raising our hand to volunteer for challenging opportunities in the workplace. Capitalizing on such endeavors is the first step to thriving as a woman in business.

2. Become a big picture leader comfortable with talking details.

If we look to the most successful leaders of our generation, one common trait becomes clear: Each is at ease describing the big picture to other fellow executives, but also deep diving into a story of the details. This duality in ability is key to success and one I’m personally looking to develop over the next few years. In a Fast Company article, the author narrates a story of a CEO who made wrong decisions about which prototypes to develop and sell because he was out of touch with consumers and had little interest in technical details, thereby refusing to visit stores where phones were sold. His job was “strategy” not “management,” whereas Steve Jobs was also in a CEO position, but he perpetually focused on the details and this is what ultimately differentiated him from his peers.

3. Communicate with colleagues and teams effectively.

In business, communication skills are paramount to success, so it’s critical that as professional women we’re able to lead meetings and communicate our priorities, goals, action items, and updates with ease. Often if we can communicate well we stand out. At the end of the day, developing proper communication skills takes practice and commitment. Being concise and detailed, especially in business, should always be the number one goal. Make sure that each of your correspondences, either in email, over the phone, or in person have a clear beginning, middle, and end; maybe a situation, complication, and question, or a situation, process, and action items. Ensure that you speak with clarity, authority, and extensive detailed knowledge of your points.

And there you have it ladies. The top three ways to thrive as a woman in business: First, capitalize on opportunities. Second, become a big picture leader comfortable with talking details. Third, communicate with colleagues and teams effectively.

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