One of the many most gratifying aspects of working with women entrepreneurs is how amazingly supportive of each other they are. Even within the same industry and competitive focus women go out of their way to help each other out. I see it again and again.
Most often we hear it at SmartGirls Way when we ask one entrepreneur to give a little bit of time to someone whose business would be supported-or heart encouraged-from some time with another entrepreneur. “Sure, Jean. We have to do everything we can to help each other.”
When I share this with women who are not entrepreneurs it’s sometimes met with skepticism. Too many of my friends and colleagues who work in the corporate sector have had just the opposite experience. This folklore runs deep in the unfriendly and even underhanded competitiveness that can show up in women executives. Especially as they climb to more senior positions in organizations.
Perhaps this behavior among women in corporations comes from the small number of positions at the top available to ambitious women. We humans tend to take on the culture of the organizations we are living and working in. It’s not pretty when women compete in this way. It’s not our natural design and honestly we are therefore not very good at it. Sure we like to do well. We even like to win. But we really like to connect and when left to our preferences we will create games (and worlds) where collaboration and cooperation lead the way to the biggest wins. That’s of course why the world needs us now more than ever-the problems we face are too complex and systemic to be solved without massive collaboration.
Women entrepreneurs are creating their cultures in alignment with their vision, their integrity, and their business purpose. And they are not compromising on any of these fronts. This lets them be themselves, be generous and grow from a perspective of abundance rather than scarcity. It is also leading them to incredible success. This idea of abundance is also the basis for why we see so many entrepreneurs and encore corporate mavens making time to grow businesses and create a supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.
Take for instance Sharon Lechter, our featured entrepreneur. Sharon has a lifetime career as a successful entrepreneur, publisher and author. Instead of resting on her laurels, she is leveraging this knowledge in her second-stage career to give back to others. A lifelong advocate of financial education, Sharon believes that educating women and girls to be financially smart is the key to ending decades of generational poverty, and she tirelessly focuses her resources and energy on helping families, women and even children reach financial security and ultimately success through understanding the “rules” and more importantly, tapping into their own potential.
A mentor once told me that thanks is great, but the real heart of gratitude is action. That’s why we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with women entrepreneurs like Sharon.
Love in Action.
Guest post author Jean Brittingham is the founder of the social-venture, the SmartGirls Way and the author of book, The SmartGirls Way: Strengths, Success, and Significance… A Path for Women Entrepreneurs (available December 1, 2011). Follow Jean @smartgirlsway on Twitter. Catch her last post here – Why the World Needs Women Entrepreneurs.