Nine winning habits of successful women – and how to practise them at work

What do super-successful women have in common?

They’ve found their purpose, they have a good support system around them, and, according to Jill Bausch, a coach, philanthropic strategist, facilitator, and social impact advisor, they engage in some specific habits.

The good news is that we can copy these approaches to replicate their success.

Let’s break these habits down. Here are some habits successful women tend to practise – and how to do them yourself.

They value feedback

Successful people love communication and constructive criticism – they don’t shy away from hearing the truth.

‘Feedback should be ongoing, meaning adjustments are made based on the information exchanged between manager and team member,’ Jill tells ‘There should be regular follow up to determine success.

‘Show you take feedback from others by talking about it, and publicly saying you value it.’

They learn how to handle crucial conversations

Jill explains: ‘Coined by a group of researchers at the turn of the century, “crucial conversations” refer to interactions of “high stakes, differing views, and strong emotions”.

‘A high-stakes subject to one person might be chit-chat to another so consider what actually is a crucial conversation and choose your method of communication carefully.

‘Crucial conversations should rarely be conducted successfully via text, email, or chat apps. They need face to face, voice to voice time, even it must be on video conference calls. Crucial conversations need the human connection so that the participants can see, hear, and judge voice tone and inflexion; body language, like eye contact and posture; and everything else. Information is generally transmitted by the words we use, but the interpretation of data is very much affected by body language.’

Jill encourages you to ask yourself: ‘What is your goal for the conversation? What goals might the other participants have?’

They don’t create stress, they diffuse it

Take an honest look at your interactions at work – are you creating more stress, or actively working to reduce it?

They don’t fear disagreements

‘Many people have an unconscious, destructive habit,’ says Jill. ‘Either they ignore important issues, or they minimise or devalue things that are important to other people and, essentially, dismiss those people.

‘Both are tactics used by people who fear contention and do their utmost to avoid it.

‘This is a destructive habit you should be looking for in yourself and proactively working to eliminate. Contention happens and pretending it doesn’t or avoiding it only makes it worse.’

They show up and are present

‘Showing up is more than just walking into the room and shutting the door,’ Jill notes. ‘It’s leaving your phone at your desk or turning it off. It’s telling your teammates that you are not to be disturbed unless the building catches fire.

‘Focus your mind and attention on the business of the meeting. Develop the habit of recognizing and rejecting distractions to give your whole focus to the other person.

‘Showing up and being wholly present is using discipline and giving respect.’

They actually listen

Look at how you communicate. If you’re always trying to fill the empty spaces with rambling, or you nod along without actually taking in what the other person is trying to say, you’re missing a trick.

Get comfortable with pauses and silence. Take your time to slow down, listen, and think before responding.

‘A few seconds of thoughtful silence that arise between a comment and a response can be vital to the success of a crucial conversation,’ Jill tells us.

‘First, that moment of silence has other participants thinking, “You didn’t spend the time I was speaking thinking about your response, you spent it really listening”. That builds trust.

‘Second, it gives you time to formulate a proactive response instead of offering a reactive, knee-jerk response.’

They learn that different things motivate different people

Successful women learn what motivates them, and recognises that this might not be the same thing as what drives someone else.

They get to grips with how to motivate the people they work with.

They show confidence – even if they have to fake it ’til they make it

‘Assume the right to mirror confidence,’ recommends Jill. ‘Assuming the right to mirror confidence and, ultimately, to be confident, is the path to success. It is, in a real sense, the victory.

‘Who are role models? If you don’t have any that come to mind, seek some and keep them front of mind.


  • How would your role model show confidence and ask yourself, “How would s/he/they handle this situation?”
  • Mirror actions that reinforce that attitude, the body language, the gestures, the facial expressions.
  • Respond to others as if you already have the confidence you seek.
  • Repeat this cycle until the act becomes a habit, second nature, an automatic response to any situation.
  • By doing this you become the confident professional you want to — the act becomes the persona. You win.’

They act as role models and mentors for others

Share your wisdom and help other people on your way up.

Jill says: ‘You may be seen as a role model before you know you are. It could happen naturally, organically, or spontaneously and by practicing these habits.

‘That is, other women will see you as you’ve seen your role models, and they will mirror you as you mirrored those who went before.

‘In many cases, it will be things you do:

  • Look around you, see who needs coaching or mentoring or just a little encouragement.
  • Adopt some obvious up-and-comers and some obvious strugglers as protégés.
  • Coach and mentor them, by example and by educating them in how the system works.
  • Encourage them to be future role models by assisting those who follow them.
  • Ask if they want input or help, don’t assume.

‘We can’t change the whole world in one go, we need to keep making the best of our little part of that world to show the sum is greater than the parts— and that is something you can do to be a Brave Woman Who Wins.’

Jill Bausch is a coach, philanthropic strategist, facilitator, social impact advisor and author of Why Brave Women Win, published by Leaders Press on November 1, 2022.

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