Empowered Women Empower Women: How to be a female leader

A female entrepreneur shares the mantras that helped her become a business owner

“So, who’s your boss?” I’ve been asked this question countless times, but the facts are that I founded my own company and currently hold the title of CEO; I work in a male-dominated industry, I have no boss and I am not alone. There are many female CEOs, founders and business leaders who, like me, do not play second fiddle to a male counterpart. But as the numbers show, we are in the minority.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that although women earn more college degrees than men and represent about half the workforce, very few are in the role of CEO. According to the article, “Women today lead 167 of the country’s top 3,000 companies. That’s more than double the share a decade ago, but still under 6%.”

Furthermore, the Center for American Progress says that women hold only between 5 and 20 percent of top leadership positions in the fields of medicine, law and corporate business. Why is there such a disparity between our level of education and our professional success?

In my experience, limits to professional success are exemplified by that original question, “Who is your boss?” This assumption that we, as women, aren’t expected to hold the leadership role. The question has a powerful underlying message: “You are not enough.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I had to learn, through a very difficult process of addiction recovery, that I was capable enough to be my own boss and to lead and empower others. Through the recovery process, I learned the limits of my pain threshold. I learned coping skills. I learned my own inner strength. I’m not saying that everyone needs to experience a personal struggle to find their inner strength, but the lessons I learned through that struggle were invaluable to me.

These lessons allowed me to start a company focused on addressing the unique challenges women face in their recovery journeys and continue to be important to my survival as a businesswoman in a male-dominated, highly scrutinized industry.

Through my personal wellness journey, I adopted a few mantras that have allowed me to become the successful businesswoman I am today. Instead of living with self-doubt and questioning whether I am enough, I know that I am worthy of that CEO title. I know I can stand up to those who assume there is a man at the helm of my company. I believe that these mantras are important for all female business leaders to live by, and further, are ideas that we should share with one another. These mantras are:

  • You are what you believe. Any woman can achieve what she wants when she puts her mind to it. If we believe we can earn that promotion or CEO role, go back to school, raise our kids, or make the necessary changes to lead a healthy life, then we will. If we encounter obstacles, we can overcome if we believe we can.
  • All women are created equal in their innate strength. Let us remind ourselves that we are strong enough, we are smart enough and that we can be leaders in business, in medicine, in law, in the arts, in whatever field we want to pursue.
  • Empowered women empower women. As female business leaders, we have a duty to lift up the women around us. Let us all empower each other to succeed. Empowerment is contagious, if we tell those around us that they can achieve their dreams, then they will.

For those of us women who have achieved a leadership position, we have a responsibility to the other women around us. Let us share our journeys, our expertise and be role models to other women. If we remind each other of our capabilities and unique female strengths, we can all achieve more. Let us share our strength and lift each other up. My dream is that our daughters aren’t asked the question, “So, who’s your boss?”

Read more about Holly Wilson and her journey to entrepreneurship.

Categories: Business Insights, Management & Leadership, Women in Biz