Women's Day: Important leadership essentials for women tech entrepreneurs
There is a lot of buzz about how women entrepreneurs are being marginalised and how the world is unfair to women etc. They may be right in some ways but at the same time, I believe that the time to excel is now!
Women entrepreneurs need to bring out the best under their leadership in current circumstances. We cannot keep waiting for external circumstances to change. With the fire in the belly, you can weave the magic wand and take advantage of opportunities you have at this point in time. Believe in yourself and make sure you lead your team to the success that you have envisaged for your venture.
According to an HBR study, Women leaders score higher than men in most of the leadership traits . Women display a significantly higher levels of competence in, ‘takes initiative’, ‘resilience’, ‘practices self-development’, ‘drives for results’, ‘displays high integrity and honesty’, ‘develops others’, ‘Inspires and motivates others’, ‘bold leadership’, ‘builds relationships’ and ‘champions change’. These I would say are great qualities for women entrepreneurs and I believe they are poised to succeed in every venture they set their mind to.
Here are a few leadership essentials for you as a women tech entrepreneur.
Clarity of purpose: A clear sense of purpose of your business will help you see things from a holistic point of view. It will help you make the right decisions and associate with the right people and so on. A balance of a technologist and a leader in you will help you connect deeply to your purpose.
Connect others to your purpose: As a techie entrepreneur, you may be very passionate about your idea and technology, but your team members may not be. It is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to connect the dots for them.
Sometimes women entrepreneurs are in a hurry to prove or showcase the results and miss on conveying the right message to the team. In the longer run, it can cause a lot of communication gaps. Continuously sharing the big picture, purpose, and vision has a huge return on investment of your time and efforts. Your ability to establish connections with people as a woman will come handy for this.
Take calculated risks: Women avoid risks for the fear of failure. Some of the researches show that males tend to take more risk under stress whereas women tend to avoid risks. Risk-taking is an important thing for an entrepreneur to be successful and grow. Women are more resilient by nature and they persevere against greater odds. They can leverage this resilience to take strategic and calculated risks. Also, I have also seen women deliberating whether they should be aggressive or not. My suggestion is to always keep a balance of being assertive, clear and agile. It is a difficult balance but if you practice, you will get the grasp of it.
Shun perfection: Women tend to seek great perfection, which at times, may lead to stress for self and team. Many times, the need to be perfect may result into micromanaging and extra workload for themselves. They will gain by letting go and accepting small variations as long as the objectives are met. This will help their teams gain more confidence and they will flourish with these small freedoms.
Effective delegation: Sometimes entrepreneurs delegate with a heavy mix of supervision; leaning towards micromanagement. This may reduce employee productivity, creativity and risk-taking ability and also puts a lot of pressure on performance back on the women leader. Women entrepreneurs will benefit by spending time with the team and putting in the effort to get to know them better and develop confidence in their ability to deliver.
Build a support system: A strong sense of responsibility may mean that women take it upon themselves to do everything. Getting everything done is a must but that should not necessarily mean doing everything yourselves. Women entrepreneurs need to build a support system around themselves. They need to find people who can help them stay focused on the key things while taking away work that can be delegated. They should be ready to pay for services in case that is required. The time that they will get back and the peace of mind that will result from having a great support system will lead to tremendous possibilities. It is also very important to have a coach and a mentor to help you excel and focus.
Have mindful conversations: Women are known to be more empathetic and emotional. Use these qualities as your advantage and be mindful of how you practice these in your conversations. Sometimes investors have a tough talk with women tech entrepreneurs challenging their seriousness for the business and raise concerns on their game plan. Many get demotivated by these hard conversations. Women entrepreneurs need to understand that it is difficult to bring the unconscious bias to change in the near term. Your business idea cannot wait for that social change. You may be one of the first women entrepreneurial generations, they may have encountered. You take charge and be prepared to answer those difficult questions. The results that your business will produce will change the attitude for sure. So, stay the course and stay focused.
Let learning be a strategy: Do use learning as a strategy to excel. Showcase that quality to your team. Keep learning and keep inspiring them. In today’s high-tech world, you need to continuously motivate your team to keep learning. If your team has the right bent of mind to learn, they will make sure that your venture is ahead of the curve.
Do not just look for role models, be the one too: It is always a good feeling to have role models but unfortunately, you may not have many women entrepreneur role models in your proximity. That should not discourage you. You, yourself, can be a role model; talk to other women and mentor them whenever possible.
Do not try to be a loner as an entrepreneur, collaborate with people and companies to create a win-win. A sense of purpose, collaboration and agility are a few key things for entrepreneurs that drive success.
1: HBR Article by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman ()