As a CEO and member of entrepreneur groups, I see a great disparity in the number of women at the helm of businesses compared with men. For those women – especially mothers – who are running their own businesses, the challenges to get to events and multi-task their lives seem far greater.
I’m acutely aware of how much of the parental load still falls on their shoulders – even when they’re busy managing their empires. Somehow, whether it is school drop-offs, picking up the kids when they are sick, packing lunches and prepping dinners, the default still seems to fall to women. These outdated gender roles are holding women back from greatness. We need more women in leadership roles who are unapologetically building their businesses or careers, to model what success can look like for other young women who are starting out.
When I launched Rufus & Coco in 2008, while pregnant with my first child, I left behind a successful career in marketing working in senior roles at David Jones, Bonds and Blackmores. Becoming a mother didn’t make me want to throw in the career towel. If anything it made me want to work even harder, pouring my branding expertise into growing my tiny Australian pet care startup into a highly successful supermarket brand and pushing myself to keep growing and learning. I wanted to create something from scratch and model to my children that they can achieve anything they set out to – no expectations.
People need strong role models to show that you can have both a family and a business or career. Mothers, in particular, make some of the best leaders. After all, we are challenged every day in our decision making and are consciously responsible for moulding young minds – cognisant of our every sentence and action. Often with women in charge there is also greater flexibility afforded to employees, making the juggle that much easier for working mothers.
Here are some reasons we need more women in leadership:
Women are empathetic leaders
Women are naturally great listeners and are empathetic, taking time to understand the whole person, not just the issue right in front of us. This emotional intelligence helps tailor plans for performance.
Women are collaborative
Women are natural connectors and tend to collaborate more than compete to achieve results. As natural connectors, women are also great at networking, which is essential as a leader.
Women keep egos in check
Women tend to take the ego out of the workplace that men can sometimes bring to the table. Humility is a core quality of great leadership, allowing one to step back and see the big picture and make the hard decisions that will ultimately benefit the business. When egos take over, poor decisions are made that serve the individual, not the greater good and in today’s environment flexibility is essential to ensure the business stays on the right track.
The best leaders are authentic, honest and humble and like everyone, have multiple commitments to manage.
I truly believe women can achieve anything if we are just willing to try!