Women have natural gifts that translate well to running a team. March 8 is International Women’s Day 2017, and females should continue to step up into leadership roles within the franchising community.
By Heather Hudson
Female franchisors, listen up! We bring unique gifts to our roles as leaders and founders: strength and intuition. I am not usually one to preach about equality, because it’s not the fault of men that they aren’t born with the same gifts that naturally occur in women. I believe eventually, however, if we keep looking up, men will rise to the level of women. And, at last, both sexes will truly be contenders in life.
All kidding aside, there are certain tasks that women step up less for, including leading roles in business. I believe most are simply intimidated by the male dominated world of entrepreneurship, but I also see that changing and I think that soon it won’t be something we really feel the need to talk about anymore. In the meantime, it’s slightly unnerving that even the internet doesn’t know what a female franchisor is:
According to the stats that I did manage to find, the percentage of women who either founded or co-founded a business rose from 9 percent to 18 percent from 2009 to present. Some may say that’s a good number, but I personally feel that’s an insanely small amount! It’s a shame, because, as I mentioned earlier, women have a unique ability to have power and patience, empathy and an empire; strength and sass.
Being Feminine is an Asset
Women are thinkers by nature. If she can understand what makes another person tick and delegate accordingly, then she can truly determine who should get the assignment and who should do something else. That makes for a powerful leader, doesn’t it? This ability is not limited to women. Both men and women can do this of course, but as a general rule, women don’t have to try to do this. Intuition kicks in automatically and we naturally mother any groups in our care. In this way, we usually end up determining without effort the needs of all involved in a project. Women are also excellent judges of character and can see right through sketchy colleagues. This is the stuff great leaders are made of!
Being comfortable with our gifts as women is the only way to make it work. We can’t try and be men, that’s a mistake. Don’t harden yourself and lose the part of you that makes you feminine.
• You can be strong and still be a woman.
• You can say no and not be labeled a five-letter word.
• You can be smart and still be sexy.
•“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” -Coco Chanel
Women are naturally inquisitive and that is another strength in business! So often people sit in meetings and silently scratch their heads in confusion because they don’t have the guts to speak up and ask questions. Not being afraid to ask questions is one of the reasons why I got to where I am today. I have also never been one to take no for an answer without asking why. If I don’t understand, I will keep on it (to a fault) until I get it. Only then will I accept the answer no, if it truly makes sense. Because of this, I’ve found that almost always the answer is only no to part of a question or I find that there’s another way (or several other ways) to make what I want work. If I didn’t ask, often repeatedly, I’d never have known.
Have a Heart, Not an Ice Cube
Women should embrace the fact that we are often in touch with our feelings and the feelings of others more than men, and use that to our advantage. While I don’t advocate wildly spreading your every emotion all over social media or the office, it’s a great addition to a group setting that could potentially be heavily male-centered. A simple statement like, “How can we show that we care?” could be just what the focus group needed to hear to spin something negative into a positive.
This doesn’t mean being a mushy pushover or letting your emotions completely control you. Often women feel like in order to lead, they must do it with an iron fist or they won’t be respected. I believe that you can be respected and still have a soft side. This goes 100 percent for men too, in my opinion!
Being a Woman is Not a Crutch
At the end of the day, I believe that someone in charge should be the best at it no matter if they are male or female. Although I am especially passionate about empowering women, I would never put a woman in a position simply because she’s a female. Whomever is best equipped to do the job is who should be selected to perform those duties. I believe this is why in my office headquarters we have a healthy male-to-female ratio. It’s almost half-and-half and I love that. There isn’t one single position in my business that I feel is more male or female-specific, rather, all of my employees give 100 percent of themselves and this is why we win as a team. I’m also pretty sure my male employees are proud to call these badass women their co-workers!
Men can learn a lot from women about caring and women can learn a lot from men about how to speak their mind. When we respect that both sexes have valuable approaches to doing business, the entrepreneurial world can be a happy and productive place. But, we must have more women step up for these types of roles or we are sorely missing out on all the benefits they’d bring to any work environment. I respectfully salute all the ladies out there who are currently in a role of leadership and ask that you use your positions to empower other females to tap into their inner ability to do the same.
Heather Hudson is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of 9Round. She is a black belt in Shotokan Karate and enjoys supporting women through their fitness and business journeys.