Women make better leaders than men. You know it’s true—and there are studies to prove it.
Then why are so few women near the top of the corporate ladder? Globally, only 4% of CEOs are women.
Here’s the most likely reason. Pure statistics.
If you fill a jar with 90 blue marbles, and 10 pink marbles, you’re more likely to grab a blue marble when you pull one out blindly.
But it’s not that there are fewer women in the work force. It’s that fewer of them are making it their primary mission in life to rise to the top of the corporate ladder.
Life is more than work. It’s romance, love, friends, and fun, too. So much of life happens outside of office hours that not all women are willing to waste their life jostling for the privilege of a corner office.
That ability to see the big picture can be useful in business, though. More and more women are shaking things around at the corporate level. They’re not doing it by acting like men, but by leveraging their talents as women. What guidance can they give us on taking the reins at work?
Here, three highly successful leaders chime in with their thoughts.
Sheryl Sandberg: Be a Risk-taker
Facebook’s COO and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead believes that women need to recognize that risk-taking is a vital part of leadership.
Sandberg explains that men have no problem seeking projects that stretch their abilities, while many women hang back—especially when working closely with men.
Women, she writes, “need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that and I’ll learn by doing it.’”
Women constantly underestimate themselves, too. They end up watching from the sidelines. Instead, women should act like they expect a seat at the table.
Be like Sandberg. Raise your hand and speak up.
Sara Blakely: The Vision Thing
When she was in high school, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, made a bold prediction. She told anyone who would listen that she was going to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
She wasn’t sure how she was going to get there. But she was 100% sure she would. And her certainty paid off. She translated it into action.
Blakely recommends taking “mental snapshots” of where you want to end up.
“Once you have that snapshot, work on filling in the blanks to get to that place. Whatever you can think, you can create; just have a very clear vision.”
Then share it with friends. As Blakely explains, “Don’t hide your plan from people who can help you move it forward.”
Caterina Fake: Work Smarter Rather than Harder
Caterina Fake, who co-founded Flickr and went on to become chair of Etsy, challenges the assumption that serious entrepreneurs have to work 24/7 to become successful.
She says that working hard is overrated. Some people claim a false sense of heroism after a late-night at the office. Working till midnight should not be a badge of honor.
In her words:
“My work and my life are seamlessly integrated, but that’s not the same as working twenty-four hours a day. If you’re working on the wrong problem, it doesn’t matter how hard you work at it. Work heroics can be counterproductive; working on the right problem is so much more important than putting in hour after hour on the wrong problem.”
So step into your power, like these women did. Own your right to influence outcomes. Maybe the men at work will be taking notes from you!