Women: Climb to the Top with Business Acumen

Posted by Paradigm Learning on July 08, 2015

By Lauren Keen, Sales Consultant for Paradigm Learning

“Women are the fastest growing market.”

This quote came from Grameen America’s CEO, Andrea Jung, who recently took the stage at the ATD International Conference and Expo in May. From the highest seat at the executive table, Andrea shined light into just how important it is to have a balance of business acumen and innovation to succeed in this competitive landscape.

In many cases, women are mired in middle management, trying for a seat at the top. And what does it take to get there? Business Acumen.

Let’s look at some research conducted by Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson, former executive directors. Their research confirmed that women leaders with multi-million-dollar businesses combine their unique feminine leadership with sound business acumen to achieve their highest aspirations.

And what about Susan Colantuono? In her Ted talk, “The career advice you probably didn’t get,” she shines the light on what women probably never heard as they pursued a spot in upper management. She shares that 50% of middle management are women, yet only 1/3 of that number are in executive seats. She identifies the gap and says that, to fill the gap, one needs business acumen.

I was so excited, but not overly surprised to see this research coming out around business acumen. As a Sales Consultant for Paradigm Learning, of course I see the value business acumen training can bring everyone.

And then it happened.

Just last week, I was scheduled to have a first call with a prospect who mentioned in the note she sent that she was interested in business acumen training. So upon asking why business acumen she replied, “Our company will be putting a group of women through business acumen training since listening to Susan Colantuono’s Ted talk.” WOW!

What is Business Acumen? It is an in-depth understanding of how a business works, how it makes money, and how strategies and decisions impact the financial, operational, and sales results.

Like Susan says in her Ted talk: to get to the top, it takes strategic, financial, and business acumen. Understanding where the company is going, what the strategy is, what financial targets are in place, and understanding your role to move the organization forward. She mentions that this is the missing piece—not that women are incapable of possessing this kind of knowledge, but because it is missing in the advice women were given.

And this can change now!

So think… do you want to be a leader that is simply hardworking, smart, and resilient? Or do you want to be a leader that understands business, where it’s going, and your role in taking the company there? What about someone who can scan the external environment, identify risks and opportunities, and make strategic recommendations? Or someone that is able to look at the financials of the business, understand the story that the financials tell, and take appropriate action or make appropriate recommendations.


Because remember, as Susan says, “Your door opener for advancement is YOUR business, strategic, and financial acumen. And all the other important stuff is what differentiates you in the talent pool.

Let’s go ladies! Time to race to the top!

Topics: Leadership Development, Zodiak®: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy, Business Acumen