Monday, June 16, 2008
Let your light shine through
|In her concession speech, Sen. Hillary Clinton said that the proverbial glass ceiling now has about 18 million cracks in it, thanks to her voters, and “the light is shining through like never before.”
There’s a lot of light shining right here in Orange County, thanks to local women business owners who are breaking through their own glass ceilings every day. I just celebrated six years of entrepreneurship myself. Along the way, I’ve realize that that the only thing standing in my way is my own shadow. If I push out the fear and reach out to a network to help me, my glass ceiling will have a few more cracks in it as well.
Entrepreneurship has been a learning journey. It’s no secret that business owners — male or female — balance many roles and serve multiple audiences. In any given day, we morph from being creative business thinkers trying to inspire employees, to industry sages trying to make sense of a shifting business climate. Juggling it all can make you feel like a chameleon.
The leaders I’ve learned the most from are master business storytellers playing roles as futurists, historians, ambassadors, analysts and contrarians. I think the women business owners I’ve met along the way — NAWBO has been a hub for us — are particularly adept at these leadership roles and skills because they require strong communication skills.
• Futurist — Help people connect the dots between their day-to-day activities and the future direction of your company.
• Historian — Just as people want to know where your company is headed, they also want to know where your company has been. You can humanize your business, especially one that’s product-driven, by creating strong messages around your company's origins.
• Ambassador — You’re the "face" of your company. It's vital to portray an image during meetings, employee one-on-ones, media interviews and other public events that is congruent with your company's overall vision, mission and values.
• Analysts — You’re an industry forecaster who is well-versed on the trends, opportunities and problems that your industry might face. In any public exchange, you must be ready to answer the question, "Where do you see your industry going over the next year, and what challenges do you anticipate?"
• Contrarian — One of the most important leadership opportunities is to know what you stand for and be able to communicate it. This helps you distinguish yourself from the competition and provide true leadership, not “me too,” copycat management.
What role do you play well? By wearing each of these hats comfortably, you’re letting your light shine through.