"Women should walk into a meeting with an all-white pants suit and they should cry in the middle of it."
Harriet Rubin, author of The Princesa: Machiavelli for Women, tells professional women - albeit in an outrageous way - that we need to embrace and harness our feminine qualities rather than hide them. And if that catches people off-guard, then maybe that's not such a bad thing.
In fact, when thinking about the many successful women I have worked with in the global workforce, they share the following three qualities that I think are key to their success:
1. They don't blend in.
You'll often hear it's paramount to adapt to diverse cultures when leading global teams - heck I preach that all the time! But I've come to believe women shouldn't adapt.
Let's take leading authors on female leadership, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and the BBC's Katty Kay. They travel, promote their books, and speak on women in leadership -- and women from all over the world, from many cultures, appreciate and connect to their message. Sheryl and Katty don't adapt, they embrace their authentic selves and put forth the image they feel is most representative.
Now, I'm not saying to walk into a meeting hugging your male counterparts in Dubai, but women don't always need to bend the way they behave to fit in.
2. They care about their appearance.
All the successful women I know dress elegantly and classically. Their clothes are expensive and their suits are tailored. I know this sounds superficial but dressing well helps them gain credibility abroad and among their male counterparts.
The care that they put into their appearance communicates that they are someone with influence who should be taken seriously. This is particularly important when working internationally as many cultures are extremely brand conscious.
3. They are soft and sweet.
Most female leaders balance clear decision-making and direct communication with a calm, cool and collected demeanor. If you think about those women who have made it to the top, they slow it down, joke and even flirt well in business.
Research shows men are 90 percent of the time consciously aware they are speaking with a woman in business, (women are only 40 percent conscious of men) and therefore we can do our part to help orient them to what kind of woman they're dealing with... Are we their sister, mother, wife, or daughter?
Soft and sweet doesn't mean you're a pushover, it means you're confident enough to navigate what the situation needs. Call it women's intuition?
Being a female leader in global teams or organizations can be tricky but I've found that the women who don't try to be someone else--act like a man or morph into a different nationality--have the most influence and experience the biggest success.