This One’s For The Girls- 7 Characteristics of Highly Successful Women

Photo By: Philline Sokal
The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.”   Edith Stein 

My mom was born in 1940.  She grew up in an age when children were seen and not heard.  A proper Southern Belle, she like many her age, was taught that a woman’s success was a “good” marriage.  Her life; she, became defined by her marriage.  My mom was a woman with a high IQ.  And she was taught this principle, “Boys don’t like smart girls. You will never get a good husband if you let the boys see how smart you are.”   Mom learned to hide the light that was her intelligence.  She hid her light and it never had a chance to shine.

When I was a little girl, I came home from school one day and told my mom about a boy who was trying to outdo me in math.  I loved the competitive spirit and it pushed me to be smarter, to work harder.   I remember my mom telling me, “Be careful, boys don’t like girls who are smarter than them.”    And my instant reaction was, “Then I don’t like those boys.”   I simply could not understand why I should care about someone who didn’t like me for being me, for being my best me.  My mom, being presented with this new way of thinking, laughed and replied, “Indeed.”

A recent study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) revealed some interesting facts.  Women in leadership positions still make up less than 5 percent of CEOs.  More women are earning college degrees than men, but are underrepresented in higher positions. Of the 50 current governors in the U.S., only 5 are women.

With all the advances of today, women still trail behind men, in decision making, in influence and in terms of their access to power. Yet, women shape the generations to come, women have tremendous creative power to generate new life, to heal communities, create peace and so much more.

As I speak to women about their lives and goals, their dreams and their relationships, I often see a common theme.  In this day and age, when we have been given permission to be anything and do anything I encounter many women who are not living in their truth.

The problem I see now is that in our quest for equal rights, we somehow got the idea that it meant we had to become more of them and less of us.  In our quest to break the glass ceiling, we entered the work force and began to play by the rules already established… the rules that worked for the men who dominated the workforce.  What our society and what our culture valued was dominated by a man’s perspective, and in our quest to be equal, we morphed ourselves into those values, those perspectives.   Here’s something interesting, when we look at highly successful women, and at the characteristics that contribute to their success, we see they speak and live in the truth of who they are as women.


7 Traits Of Highly Successful Women To Embrace and Achieve More



Here’s the secret to confidence. It doesn’t matter how you feel on the inside, it’s what you project on the outside that people see.     I have often been told by people that they admire my confidence.  I smile graciously and thank them, knowing on the inside I was the same as everyone else.  I was nervous, I had my own doubts and fears.  But I took practical steps to overcome the doubts and fears and nerves (working with a coach can help with this) and I walked with outward confidence.  That is what the world sees and I was told by a coach early in my career, “What is perceived is real.”  And confidence is like a muscle, the more you do this, the easier it becomes.

The question isn’t who’s going to let me: it’s who’s going to stop me.” (Ayn Rand)


I love the story of Estee Lauder, born to Hungarian Immigrants, she wanted more. Lacking the money to hire advertisers like her competition, she came up with two marketing techniques commonly used today, – the free gift, and the gift with purchase.  Brilliant!  Don’t be afraid to be creative.

“My life did not please me, so I created my life.” (Coco Chanel)


A feminine leadership style is generally considered one that embraces empathy, collaboration and long-term thinking.  And in fact, recent  Research from Catalyst  shows  that this leadership style in Fortune 500 companies attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than other leadership styles.

“Power to me is the ability to make a change in a positive way.” (Victoria Justice)

Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges. No wonder women with these traits are highly successful!  The good news is that you can learn and enhance these traits for you own success.

Never Give Up

Consider Malala Yousafzai, on a school bus in Pakistan when a gunman boarded and shot her in the head. Why? Because she dared to speak about education for girls.  Did she quit?  Even after being shot 3 times in the head, she continues to be an advocate for educating women.  In 2013 she was listed as one of Time’s Most Influential Women in the World and in 2014 co-received the Nobel Peace Prize.  All this while still a teen!

Don’t be the girl who fell, be the girl who got back up.” (Jenette Stanley)

Create A Unique Style

In today’s world you must stand out. – In Seth Goldstein’s book,” The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,” he says that the key to success is to find a way to stand out–to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins.   Martha Graham, among others, comes to mind.  Martha introduced the world to dance, as it had never been seen before and reshaped American modern dance.  She has been likened to  Picasso’s influence on art, Stravinsky’s on music and Frank Lloyd Wright on architecture.  Graham was the first dancer to perform at the  White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the US: the  Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be” (Maya Angelou)

Embrace Traditions and Family

Here’s something we as women know, that is undervalued in our culture; women are often the glue that holds things together, whether it is at home or at work. We naturally create roots that bond (teamwork) and we have an instinct for when things are brewing and take charge before things get out of hand.  We provide leadership, whether in home or work, that focuses on teambuilding, tradition, and enforcing the mission, goals and values so everyone is working with the same values.   Leadership is natural for most women and successful women harness these natural talents in the home and workplace to get everyone on the same page.

Photo By: Philline Sokal

“Sister, open your heart, fling your hopes high and set your dreams aloft. I am here to hold your hand.”  (Maya Angelou)


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