Oct 23 2011
Circumstances have surely changed for women in the 37 years since I started out in business. With few women blazing trails and no obvious female mentors to rely on, it took a lot of hard work and some luck along the way to establish and grow our firm, Diversified Search.
Now the pendulum has swung, and there are more women leading - and many others in the pipeline for future opportunities. In my role as an entrepreneur building a search business and placing women (and men) in top executive positions, I have had a unique vantage point in some respects. Here are some thoughts that occur to me on key attributes that women should possess in order to succeed in the business world.
Confidence: Women who project self-assurance in their manner, communication and appearance engender the confidence and support of others. Confidence is essential in convincing others that you are ready and able to take on significant responsibility. Being truly confident is easier said than done, and I've seen both sides of the equation -- self-confident women who rise to the top positions, and others who are just as capable but diminish their chances by being unable to project a positive presence.
Relationships: Remember "it takes a village" and you need to have lots of people who wish you well and want to help you succeed. Getting out and about and building allies is crucial as women rise through the ranks in business. With more and more women in senior leadership roles, there are mentors and advisers in virtually all sectors who can coach and in many instances help remove or circumvent barriers to higher levels. Women must continue to encourage, support and advocate for one another.
Self-Promotion: Women should not be afraid to put their best foot forward by talking up their experience and accomplishments. Understand the importance of getting known in the right circles and leveraging opportunities that come along. Women can be publicity-shy, and reluctant to put themselves "out there," but when done in the right way, it can reap huge rewards.
I see a great future for the women who are willing and able to seize the momentum of today to move to more senior ranks in corporate America. Opportunities abound and we should encourage those who are qualified and motivated to seek them out. Women must step up to the challenges and take the risks necessary to get bigger titles/positions and higher earnings - and, importantly, embrace the power that accompanies them. I continue to believe, as I did when I founded Diversified Search nearly four decades ago, that as the highest organizational ranks become more and more balanced in all aspects of diversity, leadership and decision-making will improve and we will all benefit.
Judith M. von Seldeneck
Founder, Chairman & CEO, Diversified Search
Diversified Search, among the nation's top ten executive search firms, is the largest woman-founded and -owned executive search firm in the U.S. With offices across the country and around the globe, Diversified Search is recognized for its commitment to diversity in the delivery of high quality consultative senior-level search services.
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