Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

These Are the 6 Personality Traits That Set Women Leaders Apart I have the honor of working with many thriving women entrepreneurs. Here's what I've noticed about their leadership styles.

By Heather McLeod Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • The road to leadership for women looks a little different — but most women leaders I have the privilege of working with consistently demonstrate these six essential qualities.
  • Women leaders are resilient and set an example in times of uncertainty or struggle.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I spent much of March traveling the country doing one of my favorite things — spending time with franchise professionals. Each opportunity to dig into the nitty gritty with franchise owners is reinvigorating. One of the lessons I haven't been able to stop thinking about is the incredible strength women can bring to leadership roles. The history of women in franchising is long. In fact, the modern franchising model was created by a woman — Martha Matilda Harper — in 1891. These days, women make up about 30% of franchise owners.

It was an honor to spend Women's History Month connecting one-on-one with so many impressive women — now I want to help them all connect. I returned from my travels and set the wheels in motion to create a new network within Authority Brands to connect and empower women franchise professionals through peer-to-peer learning and community building.

The women leaders I have the privilege of working with consistently demonstrate these key qualities:

Related: These Women-Founded Franchises Surpassed a Major Milestone — Against the Odds. Here's How They Did It.

1. Resilience

Resilience is a watchword of our era, and it's one of the top qualities I see in the women shaping franchising. A 2023 SAS survey reveals that 97% of executives think resilience is important for their business, but less than half (47%) consider their organization resilient. Women are uniquely qualified to fill that resiliency gap — they likely had to be resilience experts to reach leadership roles.

According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans agree that women have to do more to prove themselves. The Harvard Business Review found that "no age was the right age to be a woman leader. There was always an age-based excuse to not take women seriously, to discount their opinions, or to not hire or promote them."

Women leaders can face many challenges, but the resilience we learn along the way is a superpower.

2. Authenticity

The women leaders who inspire me all have a very strong sense of self. They know who they are, what they believe in, what they're great at and what they need to work on. And they'll tell you without hesitation.

Women who understand personality, values, and vision have the opportunity to set an example as authentic leaders. There is an important relationship between authentic leadership and employees' workplace performance. We're all human, and leading with that understanding has amazing outcomes.

Authenticity can be uncomfortable sometimes. I make it a point to encourage my team to ask for help daily. Our willingness to lean on each other, give and take support and share wins makes us great.

Related: 3 Big Reasons Why Leaders Should Embrace the Joy of Missing Out

3. Positive communicators

A recent study from S&P Global found that female leaders consistently communicate more positively than their male counterparts. Women were more likely to use words relating to empathy, diversity, and adaptability, while men were more likely to use language associated with transactions, growth, and performance. Positivity and emphasis on empathy, diversity, and adaptability impact every element of a team and can help attract and retain top talent.

To be our best, we need to draw from the full spectrum of communication styles.

Related: 14 Proven Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

4. Empathy

Every time I speak with one of our women franchise owners, I see how their empathy helps them empower their employees and understand their customers.

Franchising has never just been about business — it's about people, too. And people remember how you make them feel even more than they remember the words you say. Whether you call it empathy, emotional intelligence, or something else, great women leaders always have it. This strength isn't about being nice, it's about truly understanding people you interact with, and using that to find the best way forward.

The more leaders show empathy and genuinely seek to understand the wants and needs of employees, the happier their teams will be.

Related: 8 Ways To Empower the Next Generation of Women Leaders

5. Collaborative

At our latest Authority Brands board meeting, I snapped a photo of all the women sitting together at a dinner table. Having enough women leaders to fill a table is still rare, but we're changing that.

Bringing together a group of women leaders is a study in collaboration. They understand the power of relationships across all levels. Building strong relationships is especially powerful in franchising because our system is so large, and there is an endless amount to learn from other business owners.

The impressive women leaders I meet are just as interested in learning from and empowering others as they are in growing in their own leadership journey. I think Martha Matilda Harper would be proud.

6. Action-oriented

A perfect vision is only worth so much. The women leaders around me have a keen understanding of this. They're decisive because they know there's no time to waste. It took a lot of time and hard work to get where they are, so they don't hesitate to take the necessary steps to reach the next level.

All of the strengths I've outlined are present in women leaders' decision-making. Their focus on positive collaboration and empathetic understanding results in decisions that are trusted by their team. Their resilience sets an example in times of uncertainty or struggle.

The road to leadership for women looks a little different. Time and understanding is changing that, but for now the challenges we face along the way can help shape us into leaders that women of the future will be proud to share a legacy with.

Heather McLeod

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Growth Officer of Authority Brands

Heather brings her passion for collaboration, customer experience, and process to everything she does. She focuses on building the right team, then empowering them to be successful through processes and systems that scale and support continued system growth.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Science & Technology

Make Music from Prompts with This AI Subscription, Just $50

This AI music generator promises to take you from prompt to song in just a few seconds.

Business News

Scarlett Johansson 'Shocked' That OpenAI Used a Voice 'So Eerily Similar' to Hers After Already Telling the Company 'No'

Johansson asked OpenAI how they created the AI voice that her "closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Starting a Business

How to Start an Event Planning Business: Your Comprehensive Guide

Not sure how to become an event planner? Use this step-by-step guide to launch your event planning business from scratch.

Business News

Now that OpenAI's Superalignment Team Has Been Disbanded, Who's Preventing AI from Going Rogue?

We spoke to an AI expert who says safety and innovation are not separate things that must be balanced; they go hand in hand.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.


What Franchising Can Teach The NFL About The Impact of Private Equity

The NFL is smart to take a thoughtful approach before approving institutional capital's investment in teams.