When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed and How We Can Learn from Them
Julia Boorstin is CNBC’s Senior Media & Tech Correspondent and has worked for the network since 2006.
Below, Julia shares 5 key insights from her new book, When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed and How We Can Learn from Them.
Listen to the audio version—read by Julia herself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. Superpowers don’t always look like powers.
There is no one type of leadership that always works, nor is there a singular trick to navigating challenges. There are stories from phenomenal women who were often wildly different from each other, whose successes were due to their complex and nuanced approaches to leadership. Their approaches looked nothing like those of a strident founder, visionary, and monomyth that have dominated in the business world for decades. In fact, female leaders who have tried to mimic the stereotypical male leadership styles have often failed, perhaps because of it. Elizabeth Holmes, for example, cast herself in Steve Jobs’ image—an aspiring Supergirl copying a Superman.
2. Don’t fight the fear, acknowledge it.
You’ll often see older men running businesses and mutual funds who seem to have unwavering confidence. But the reality is that nobody is ever entirely sure of what’s going on. Everyone is just making the best decisions they can, with all the data they have at the moment. There are so many stories about confidence disconnects and feelings of imposter syndrome, but at the end of the day, it’s important to be honest about your lack of certainty. When you don’t feel confident, that can be a valuable tool; it’s an indication that you should be seeking information from other people.
3. Don’t avoid dwelling on your obstacles, understand them.
Really dig into the data about bias and stereotype and how it impacts people. Through digging in, you can see that understanding these forces, no matter how grim they seem, can be a valuable tool to help people circumnavigate them. It’s much harder to achieve equity when we don’t realize just how far from it we currently are. It’s much harder to manage or neutralize double standards if you don’t see them.
4. It takes a village—a diverse one.
Of 120 women interviewed for my book, all of them stated that no matter how much credit they deserved for founding their company, taking on risks, and doing things that many people would think impossible, it was essential to acknowledge the contributions that other people made to their success. Whether it was a team collaborating to build a company or a C-suite coming together to pitch their startup to investors; nobody succeeds alone.
5. Nothing is more powerful than women helping one another.
There’s a stereotype that men are better at negotiating than women. A number of studies have found that the strongest negotiators are not men, however, but women negotiating on behalf of someone else. This indicates that women have been socialized not to push as hard when they’re speaking up for themselves. Hopefully women will start to change this as they come together. Organizations like All Raise and companies such as Chief and The Crew are teaching women to coach each other, and helping women unleash their negotiating ability and advocate for themselves.