The Women's Journal

Observing The Traits Of Successful Women

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By Fred Dawson,

Author, Entrepreneur

I have learned that each woman has a story, and success means different things. However, those women generally share specific traits. Their strength is born of overcoming more obstacles than their male counterparts. But that success is not happening fast enough. CNN Business reported recently that the number of CEOs on the Fortune 500 list is just 38. This sounds low to me, but Fortune calls this “an all-time record” for women CEOs. In terms of gender parity and diversity, we have more work to do. I have met women who are making great strides, and I’d like to share the leadership traits I have observed.

Vision and Ambition

We can’t predict the future, but the women I admire have vision. They create goals, craft plans, and work diligently on the follow-through. Whether running their own businesses, climbing the corporate ladder, or leading nonprofits, each is equipped to gather and attain the best resources. Mentors are highly valued. 


Real success takes persistence. It’s not only about perfecting what you do through practice; it’s about mindset, seeing challenges as opportunities, and adapting to changing times and conditions. Successful women keep their eyes on the prize. 

Constant Learning

Those of us who remain curious and develop a passion for lifelong learning can embrace business trends and evolving technologies. In her article for the Society for Human Resource Management, Kathy Gurchiek says that experiential learning “helps develop knowledge, skill, and values through experiences outside of the traditional setting.” Exploring the breadth of human experiences renders a broader understanding of how we fit into the world and why our work matters.


The women I respect tend to be compassionate. To have compassion means to listen and trust, even when neither is easy to do. According to author, research professor, and motivational speaker Brené Brown, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”


Terri Williams, an astute business writer for The Economist and other publications, writes that “leaders need to realize that their words, actions, decisions and methodologies help to create the company’s true values and its culture. Her article, Why Integrity Remains One of the Top Leadership Attributes, links integrity and trust, mainly because when all is said and done, our character and competence are ultimately deemed our most important traits.


The importance of generosity toward our fellow human beings cannot be overstated. I try to emulate my female friends and colleagues by sharing the things I value. They give of their time and talent. They all understand that generosity need not be all-consuming. One can juggle career, family, supporting a favorite charity monetarily, or volunteering. Supporting organizations meaningful to me gives me a sense of purpose. 


Forbes contributor Margie Warrell recognizes that we live in anxious times. And that’s why, she says, “People are looking skyward wondering when it will fall in, we need strong leaders to show true courage.” In her blog, she writes, “The kind of courage that discerns real from imaginary risks and does not discount the cost of indecision in the face of uncertainty. The kind that inspires people to rally together toward a noble cause and acknowledge what’s not working. The kind that doesn’t rely on fear to motivate action, win votes, garner support or dehumanize those who disagree.”


I have found that resilience is vital in a constantly-evolving society. Failure, loss, and change are inevitable. I believe that an optimistic attitude helps when difficult situations arise. To quote actor and director Aisha Tyler, “Success is not the absence of failure; it’s the persistence through failure.” 


The successful women I know believe in cultivating the best versions of themselves, and taking whatever time they need to do that. They own their strengths and weaknesses, and nurture their physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. In turn, they have more energy, focus, and gratitude—in business and in life.

About Fred

Fred Dawson is a writer, musician, businessman, speaker, and community leader. The author of Pearls: Women Who Radiate Success, Fred celebrates successful women who have found satisfaction after years of work, struggle, or discrimination. Inspired by his mother, whom he describes as “fiercely determined,” Fred donates the books’ proceeds to the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit awarding scholarships to women who wish to transform their lives through education but lack the means.


“Pearls by Fred Dawson is the continuation of Books I and II and, like the earlier ones, will give peace and strength to readers to see how the women in the book have risen above their personal difficulties and found a balance in their workspace and personal lives. Every story and every woman mentioned will encourage readers to find their worth. These women from different walks of life, be it education, politics, law, entrepreneurship, and business, have written their own success stories. Books like this one help women to pursue their dreams and stand their ground.” ~ By Mamta Madhavan