When it comes to the subject of women in leadership roles, there never fails to be some debate on their gender. Or what they wear. Or how they behave. What makes the news tends to be the insignificant details, over the qualities and skills they bring to the role. The female politician who happens to have a shoe collection. Or the one who acts "too rigid." Or the candidate who doesn't smile. Oh, and are they likeable enough? That's a big thing too. Over the last year, in particular, the question of what it takes to be a strong, successful female leader has come to the fore. What do today's powerful women have in common? Determination? A conscientious work ethic? Or does a little luck; being in the right place at the right time come into it?
Before our 2017 Businesswoman of the Year Awards takes place on Monday, some of our nominees in the CEO category reveal why the secret to true success is about more than just hard work.
Honesty and integrity are key. Transparency, trust yourself when making a decision and admitting when you make a mistake.
Mouna Prenty, CEO, Seetec Ireland
Vision. You need to have a clear vision for where the company is heading and what needs to be done to achieve this.
Communication. You need to be able to share your vision with the team and keep everyone working towards the same goal. As well as communicating your vision outwards clearly as a company.
Encourage participation. Motivate your team with positive feedback and support, creating a positive company culture in which to achieve the goals.
Stick to your word. Be consistent in fulfilling your commitments to your employees; your word is your bond.
An indomitable spirit. Never take no for an answer, you can always find a solution, patience, perseverance and passion are my key attributes as a CEO, and the most important thing of all is in my own language, “Es importante tener un buen sentido de humour”, it is essential to have a good sense of humour.
Monica Matellano, Managing Director, Eirespan Distribution Limited
Being a collaborator. I believe to ensure growth in your own business; you must also become a business leader within your Industry.
Ability to learn. Creating an annual educational programme for yourself and your team members both nationally and internationally is key to strong leadership. Educational programmes must be bespoke to the individual needs of each team member.
Visionary. Look upward and outward to what is happening in your global industry. Know your north star of maximum achievement within a set period. Be visionary in the communication of your goals and plans for the business and ensure all team members know their role and the part they must play in achieving the overall company objectives.
Flexibility. Although goals are set, it’s very important to be flexible and adaptable. Know the market trends and don’t be afraid to change to maximise the potential.
Understanding culture. In a service Industry which is driven by people, creating the right company culture and ensuring your people fit that culture is high on my priority list of leadership. Respect for co-workers, clients and suppliers are our number one. The right attitude and enthusiasm are what we look for in people.
Compassion. On the softer side of leadership, I believe compassion and understanding is an important element of leadership. Getting to know your team members personally and really caring about them leads to engagement and long-term retention.
Nicola McGrane, CEO, Event Partners Ireland and Conference Partners International
The four main attributes in my eyes to being a leader is communication, honesty, inspiration and positivity.
Communication is key to any successful business. Knowing what you want, expect in your head is one thing but the ability to communicate this in a constructive, positive manner to your team members is vital.
Honesty, in my opinion, is another huge key to being a good leader. In order for your team to be behind you, they have to trust in you, trust in your thoughts and trust in your actions.
Inspiration is key, and I feel so even more as a woman. A lot of hurdles can be placed in our way in the working world. I like to think that I inspire all my team knowing that we can achieve anything we want no matter what sex we are, what age we are or what background we come from. If you can inspire people, you are creating a goal for them to achieve and you are also creating a positive place to work where your team feel anything is possible. I continuously keep morale high and encourage my team and inspire them to get to that finish line while doing the same myself with all my goals.
Positivity in life gets you places and even more so in the working place. You have to believe in your capabilities and that of your team and your company. A positive attitude will win out every single time. In work we often find ourselves overwhelmed with the mountain of work we have or the deadlines we have to meet. There should be a fine balance between productivity and fun in the workplace. Encouraging your team in a positive manner will get you the results you want in the long term. My famous quote is – once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you will start to have positive results.
Niamh McCarthy, Managing Director, Excursions Ireland
For me, vision and a clear focus on where you see your business in two years, four years and five years along with a plan on how you intend making your vision a reality.A lot of drive and will to succeed. A clear goal on what you want to achieve personally, being absolutely clear what this is all about. Leading a team requires being open, honest and trusting; something I have learned over the years (as opposed to something I was born with!). Accepting responsibility for the failures and celebrating the successes.
Georgina Quigley, CEO, ACB Group – Design and Construct