Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

The Real Reason Women Fail As CEOs and 5 Traits of Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Gender equality in the workplace is spoon-fed into our ecosystems from an early age, but the results say otherwise.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

And so the anecdote continues…..

A woman, a man and an elephant walk into the boardroom……(insert quippy reflection here).

The truth is that 92% of the time, a man will secure his place in the boardroom, and only 8% of these elite corporate heads are female. The elephant in the room is the apparent lack of females with a seat at the table.

With the disparate ratio of male CEOs to female CEOs peppering the landscape of corporate America, the illusion of gender equality needs to be rethought. Gender equality in the workplace is spoon-fed into our ecosystems from an early age. Yet, the results are difficult to quantify as the percentage of CEOs worldwide is predominantly male.

If we look back at the emergence of women claiming their spot in the workforce, we must look to Rosie the Riveter and her presence as an integral part of the predominantly male workforce during World War II. Many brought tools home from work and used them on their home repairs. They took on domestic roles they never had before. World War II mobilization affected women by introducing them to new lines of work not typically suited for women at the time.

Related: 6 Leadership Tips for First-Time Female CEOs

During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, feminist activism became the mantra that little girls adopted as their new reality. Richly diverse women joined this call to arms and became involved in this feminist movement. This era of women's rights exploded in the United States and worldwide, forever changing society by expanding rights, opportunities and identities. With all the strides made in the past decades, the United States lags globally, ranking 27th on overall progress.

As a young girl in the 80s and 90s, I was taught that there were no limits to my professional aspirations, yet I continued to hit the proverbial glass ceiling. I went to law school, completed a master's certification, and was never taken seriously like my male counterparts. I earned the accolades, wrote the articles, hob-knobbed with the powerful constructs of corporate greatness…and then, nothing.

My role as an entrepreneur hinges on those who have gone before me and made a path for females to claim their birthright as CEO of their own corporate dream. Conversations with a mentor or coach are essential in pushing your leadership skills to the next level.

Related: How These 3 Female CEOs Are Driving Workplace Change and Equality for Working Mothers

In particular, I remember a conversation with a CEO and Mom-Boss, Tracy Hazzard. Hazzard is the CEO and founder of Podetize who is normalizing the role of a wildly intelligent and unapologetic momma who is balancing the teeter-totter women who believe they can have it all. She taught me the art of embracing carpools, breastfeeding and gobbling up the totality of my female-CEO dreams. She is a curator of female employees who delight in the autonomy of a professionally focused life rooted in family growth.

Creating a business model that embraces the idea of female autonomy, coupled with the tools to navigate success, is the blueprint for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who celebrate diversity and champion unlimited potential.

Being a mother of four boys, I knew it was essential to their development that they witness their mother be firm in her rise to the top of corporate mayhem in conjunction with the day-to-day toggling of bandaging boo-boos and heralding playdates. These two roles we play as mothers and bosses are a rickety rite of passage that can be accomplished.

Related: 3 Things to Do Today to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance as a Mom Entrepreneur

Digging deeper into exploring the qualities of top-tier female CEOs, I recognized a pattern that was the foundation for sustainable success.

  1. Build a team — both professionally and personally. The number one mistake entrepreneurs make is doing work others can do. Micromanaging is an exercise in control and binds leaders to unproductive execution. Building a competent team who executes on behalf of your company freed you of time, energy and focus. Hire an executive assistant, hire a marketing guru and lock arms with childcare providers.
  2. Find a mentor who has gone before you. Nothing is more important than seeking out and engaging with a leader who understands your path. Mentorship is essential to the executive experience, and many CEOs and Boss Mommas are eager to impart their knowledge to rising stars. Do your research and reach out. Asking questions is more powerful than executing answers.
  3. Think differently than your male counterparts. As women, we have the intuitive ability to think differently than our male equals. This is our superpower. Our vantage point is a strength. When women aspire to be a part of the "boys club," we do a disservice to a demographic that yearns to be heard.
  4. Understand your strengths and then magnify them by 10xing your strengths. Ask yourself, what are your strengths? I dimmed my light for so long because I wanted to make everyone around me feel comfortable. This left a void in my life that silently diminished my joy. Not until I recognized my strengths in writing and elevating the voices around me did I reach my truest potential.
  5. Be confident in your priorities, and do not make excuses. We, as women, tend to make excuses. When asked to perform professional tasks, we minimize our roles as mothers. This results in an imbalance in our lives and creates chaos. We can maintain a healthy equilibrium when we are confident in our priorities and vocalize this to our teams.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks