Women are poised to become a majority in the workforce for the first time in US history. This year saw a 25 percent jump from the previous year in the number of women Fortune 500 CEOs. In the last decade, women-owned businesses nearly doubled in number, and now account for 40 percent of all US businesses.
We can make even more progress by leveraging our female aptitudes. New brain research and findings from gender studies reveal that women are naturally "wired" for career success. That is, they have female attributes that can give them a significant advantage in the workplace -- especially in today's global marketplace, where cooperation, collaboration, and communication--all female strengths -- are highly prized.
Here are 9 ways women can use their innately female traits to boost business success.
1. Communicate well.
Women routinely outscore men on oral and written tests because they use both hemispheres of the brain--left and right--to process verbal, visual, and emotional stimuli. Kaputa's advice: Ask great questions, listen with attunement, and hone your business conversation and presentation skills. Become known for being a master communicator in both speaking and writing.
2. Reach out.
The larger your network, the more career capital you'll acquire--great news for women, who are natural-born networkers and team builders. Kaputa's advice: Make and keep friends. Ask others for help, ideas, and feedback. And continually grow your network of colleagues, advisors, and mentors.
3. Be inclusive.
Choosing inclusion over exclusivity is an inherent female strength and a powerful advantage in today's diverse, globalized workplace. Kaputa's advice: Commit to inviting as many perspectives as possible and extending goodwill to everyone--friends and foes. Cultivate strong alliances, and be loyal.
4. Read between the lines.
Studies show that women are much better at picking up subtle emotional messages than men are. This makes them especially attuned to body language and able to detect unspoken signals of distress, confusion, and frustration. Kaputa's advice: Pay attention to what's going on behind the scenes. In meetings, for example, if something feels incomplete or not talked about, act on your hunch and initiate a follow-up phone conversation.
5. Empower others.
Gender studies show that girls tend to work together, forming a kind of committee, in order to accomplish tasks. This inclusivity helps everyone in the group succeed. Kaputa's advice: The highly collaborative style of females is increasingly valuable in today's interconnected global business environment. Lead in a way that doesn't seek to have power over people, but empowers others instead. Create teams and a "personal board of directors" who can advise you--and be sure to include men too. Give public credit to people when they contribute.
6. Be a big picture thinker.
Studies show that women tend to take in multiple perspectives and consider a wide range of tangential elements when solving a problem or coming to a decision, while men's style of problem solving is different--more linear and more narrowly focused. Kaputa's advice: Leverage your enhanced ability to be a big picture thinker so you can bring more creativity and innovation to your work.
7. Tune in emotionally.
Women are especially intuitive and empathetic. Kaputa's advice: Use these emotionally driven strengths to be open and responsive to others' feelings and build strong and healthy work relationships.
8. Be likeable.
Women's gift for compassion, empathy, and intuition also makes them more likeable. Kaputa's advice: Likeability is a key asset the workplace. Smile and be positive--as opposed to being serious and stern--and you will win everyone over and be more influential in your job.
9. Create an attractive package.
You don't have to look like a fashion model, but people who make a good physical impression are more likely to be viewed as smart and competent. Kaputa's advice: Think about what your visual image conveys – your grooming, poise. You want to make a powerful statement.
Catherine Kaputa is a brand strategist, speaker, and the founder of SelfBrand LLC, a NYC-based personal branding firm. Her newest book is The Female Brand: Using the Female Mindset to Succeed in Business. She previously wrote U R a Brand, How Smart People Brand Themselves for Business Success.