The most common attributes of successful women

The most common attribute of successful women entrepreneurs and professionals that we’ve met with, interviewed and researched around the world is:

Their willingness to BE BOLD.

What does it mean to be bold? What does it look like for businesswomen who operate in a myriad of cultures with different societal norms and expectations?

Successful women around the world demonstrate being bold by:
  1. Being courageous in spite of difficulties, obstacles or fears.
  2. Respectfully challenging the status quo.
  3. Finding ways to bend, work around or if necessary even break the rules that govern what women can or should do professionally or in business.
  4. Dreaming, exploring, thinking and acting beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action.

Why is Being Bold Important?

According to The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law projects there are legal gender differentiation factors that can prevent women from getting jobs or starting businesses in 141 economies. And those are just the legal factors! We could not even begin to quantify all the business environment, work place or societal biases – visible or not apparent – that can affect a woman’s ability to succeed and achieve the professional goals and position to which she aspires.

How YOU Can Go About Being Bold

There is no standard definition of being bold. It means different things to each of us. It looks different in every work place and country. What we do know is that for women to get ahead, they have to stand out, move beyond the expected norms and be visible and noticeable for their ideas and accomplishments. 

We also know that women are often held to different standards than men. We must continually prove ourselves before we are promoted and we are often judged by different standards than men and that we can be deemed  ”not quite right” for many of the most senior positions.

We have found that successful women are not deterred by these obstacles. Rather, they recognize that in predominately male dominated business environments, men typically understand and identify with the characteristics of being bold: assertiveness, confidence and risk taking. So, successful professional and business women find the most appropriate ways that they can adopt and demonstrate a bold persona.

Being bold is not about being flashy or calling attention to yourself without having something significant or substantive to offer. It takes:

Ideas, Analysis & Action

  1. First,think about what being bold would look like for you: How could you best demonstrate new thinking, action and confidence in the business environment and society in which you live?
  2. Determine the areas and opportunities that would benefit from divergent and innovative thinking and action.
  3. Figure out which norms, practices or business models are inhibiting you from reaching your goals.
  4. Observe, talk to, read about and learn from women (and men) who have been successful overcome challenges and seemingly intractable obstacles.
  5. Decide on an approach you can take. Talk it through with a courageous friend, mentor, sponsor or colleague to fine tune your ideas.
  6. Go ahead, try it – we know you can!


Rania Anderson

Founder, The Way Women Work



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