What do some of the most successful business women all have in common? They are more than just your average businesswoman, some of them just have that certain je ne sais quoi factor, others may just work incredibly hard and a few do things a little differently but most of them have impact. Whatever level of business you are at there is always a way to go that extra mile that could put you head and shoulders above your peers. Whether you admire the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel and Hilary Clinton or more unexpected savvy icons like Beyoncé or even more humanitarian figures like Angelina Jolie or Melinda Gates, it is more than likely they will fit into one or more of these categories.
Be a Community Leader
Managing and thriving in your own office is one thing but most business leaders have the ability to adapt those skills to an alternative stage – the community. There is no habitable place on earth where more can’t be done to help improve the quality of life which is why for hundreds of years business has been so integral to community welfare. Naomi Tarry, business owner of Best of Suffolk who specialise in letting Suffolk cottages is a well-known figure amongst her community as her business boosts the local tourism industry significantly every year. More importantly Tarry’s company buys up extremely dilapidated cottages and buildings, renovating them into beautiful properties for rental which help transform the villages and towns in which they are situated. “I don’t think we realised at the beginning the kind of difference we could have on the community, but now it’s one of the most important things we take into account,” said Tarry.
Whether it is your business or you as an individual that is able to make the impact within the community, the easiest way to work out what you have to offer is to consider what assets you have that may be able to useful or relevant to community issues. It may be that you can help the surrounding neighbourhood just as a result of the work you do, however if this is not the case, you could always team up with other businesses to see what you could do together. Alternatively, you could always consider becoming a member of the BITC (Business in the Community), who encourage businesses to take an active role in being responsible in communities.
Inspire the Next Generation
Being a thought leader is more than just about sharing knowledge and ideas, it is about imparting it to the people who will be able to continue that legacy: the next generation. Many businesses offer more sustainable and ethical internships for younger people such as paid apprenticeships and paid graduate schemes enabling them to learn and develop their skills under your wing and guidance. Similarly business leaders are regularly invited to speak at top academic institutions and even as guest lecturers in their field. Speaking to younger people about your experience and what you’ve learnt is invaluable and can often have a lasting effect on those that are interested in what you do.
Give to Charity
Philanthropy is not restricted to the rich and famous, and although the saying goes ‘charity starts at home’; you will have little impact if you are unable to scale up your ability to give, support, encourage and raise awareness for good causes. Selflessness and modesty are characteristics that not only appeal on a personable level but also attract like-minded people together, opening up the floor for collaboration. No matter what area of business you work in, you will find that there is always something you can donate and it doesn’t have to be money. ISSWWW recently donated one of their pat testers to the Benjamin Foundation in Norwich so they could check their venues and offices were electrically safe. Every little helps, as they say.
(About the Author: Freelance journalist and writer, Katherine Ogilvie specialises in business and finance with experience working with start-up organisations, successful local businesses and expanding corporate companies, with a diverse portfolio writing for a number of publications including Time Out, the Guardian, Yahoo, Huffington Post and the Digital Journal.)