- Passionate attention to all customers, including the ones future customers. I dragged along a friend who doesn’t climb, and had no intention of doing so. She instantly felt welcome, even though climbing up the wall until then was something she only does at business meetings. Your customers may come in many forms and will have different needs. See the world from their perspective – are they confused? Scared? Stressed? Finding it hard to park? At the Wall you feel safe and at ease. And yes, of course, she climbed. And is now hooked.
- Create a happy place where staff are as engaged as you are in looking after customers with care. Your staff must feel like a really core part of your baby business. Get them on board and make sure to find ways of harnessing all their bright ideas about how to make your project a success
- Know your customers intimately before you start. Alan and Brian really understand their market, and are well networked. They already understood exactly what climbers want and immediately ran simple high impact events that have built up loyalty, traffic to The Wall and loads of Word of Mouth publicity, always the most powerful form of marketing. This also helps you create a sense of community and shared values among your customer base, so your customers stay longer and believe in what you do. Happy customers come back.
- Be clever about how to position and communicate what you offer: .The Wall makes canny use of social media and press coverage to get the story out in a more targeted and dynamic way than any ad ever will. Network, but be savvy about how you use that precious network.
- Know your competition equally intimately, know when to compete (and how) and when to collaborate. Sometimes collaboration is the right strategy – work together and instead of splitting a new small market you can grow it together, creating greater awareness by acting as a group and attracting more people to a new service or product.
- Good team - make sure all the practical stuff is under control. The top team here includes a marketing whizz and an employment law specialist. They have team skills to make sure the business is set up on a sound financial footing, property and planning skills and expertise to make sure design and operations are top class.
- Finally – do something you love. The chances are you will be very good at it!
In this Section
Empowerment for women is certainly in vogue and while the last few years in particular has highlighted the need for positive changes for women in the workplace, have things really changed?
Gender quotas, pay parity, saying no to harassment – the right things are being talked about – however we still have a long road ahead in our organisations and it starts with each and every woman.
Women helping women
Research shows that when a woman exhibits some act of kindness, it triggers a greater reward signal within women than it does in men. Therefore, women tend to feel better when they help other people. Research also indicates that women are generally more relationship driven and more privy to these aforementioned acts of kindness.
This begs the question of why we are seeing less of these instances in the workplace. The reason why women who display aggressive alpha female behaviour towards their female colleagues therefore still remains unclear. The gender confidence gap still very much exists and is the reason why more women need to lift others as they climb. As Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, is fond of saying: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’’
Many successful women are still marking a reluctance to help other women and are guilty of still pulling up the ladder behind them or even worse; by actively kicking the ladder out from under other women. From displaying harsh behaviours in the boardroom, to gossiping, to being aggressively assertive, to not having your back, the list goes on. Is it down to competition over fewer high-level positions, fear, imposter syndrome or is it still attributable to that old trope of the “Queen Bee”?
The enemy within
After coaching many business women last year, I strongly believe inner confidence is still a root cause and the main culprit for this type of behaviour. An African proverb says, “when there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do you no harm’’. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy as woman are not supporting other women because of their own fear and anxieties.
The pressure for women to be perfect in this instant social media world is also a contributory factor. For those that are working mothers, the mother guilt is at an all-time high now and this is naturally spilling into the workplace. As a result, people are lower in resilience and they are continually comparing themselves to other women which is the classic hallmark of low resilience.
Another known theory is that when women are underrepresented in the workforce, they see fewer opportunities for individual advancement. This prompts the need to act in individualistic ways and to evaluate other women more negatively to eliminate threats to their career opportunities.
Unconscious bias has been high on training agendas and the awareness is certainly out there, but what are we doing to address this. Are we tackling our biases within our organisations and calling each other out on it?
As a woman in business you must continually ask yourself what you have done recently to help other women in your company and/or sector. If you have a female rising star on your team, are you supporting her and championing her as much as you could? Are you creating opportunities to let her shine? Are you encouraging her to reach her potential? If not, why not?
Be the women who reach’s down that ladder with extended open arms. Break the self-fulfilling prophecy and be the difference you want to see across organisations.
Fiona Buckley is Associate Faculty with the Irish Management Institute (IMI) facilitating on a number of public and custom programmes, including IMI’s Taking the Lead – Women in Leadership programme and the Women in Aviation Finance Leadership programme.
Fiona is a Business Psychologist, Work Behaviourist and Executive Coach specialising in the areas of Leadership, Work Behaviour, Women in Business and Interpersonal Skills.