I would like to share my thoughts with you.

Success Secrets Of The World’s Most Powerful Women

on July 19, 2014

Some of success is character driven–the ability to recognize and fuel the burning fires deep inside you. Maintaining success also takes strategy, which is cultivated over time through learned habits and systems that encourage it. These women have those too.

For one, they get a jump on the day. When she was CEO, Avon chairman Andrea Jung woke up at 5 a.m. everyday, hit the gym and was at her desk by 8. Longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour is on the tennis court by 6 a.m. every morning before work, and Starbucks’ Michelle wakes up at 4:30 everyday to go running.

What these women have discovered is that being up before the sun is a major personal and business advantage. No matter how busy their schedules may get, they know they have that time in the mornings for themselves. They may use it to exercise and work out their stress. It may be a quiet time to gather their thoughts before the family is up and the rush of the morning begins. And if you’ve ever been the first one in the office, you know it can be an oasis of quiet focus, when you can plan your day and more fully concentrate on a complicated task.

It turns out that waking up early is scientifically proven to give you an edge. Studies show that students who identify as “morning people” get higher grades; that early risers are more optimistic, stable and likely to anticipate problems and be proactive, which is linked with better job performance, greater career success and higher wages.

But I also have to warn you: If you’re going to wake up early, it’s essential that you go to bed early. Just like exercise–which gives you energy and lifts your mood–pays dividends in business, so too does good sleep. So do not sacrifice sleep in an effort to get more done, because you’ll end up undermining your ability to get much of anything done.

Here’s another trend I’ve noticed. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of top women who say their best strategy for success is to hire people who are smarter than them, give them the tools to do their jobs and then listen carefully. As far as leadership strategies go, “listening” is pretty simple, but it’s also essential. If you’re able to be open to all different kinds of information, your conclusions will be that much better formed.

Claire Watts, the CEO of retail and media company QVC, actually schedules open door times every Tuesday, so that anyone in the company who wants to come talk to her, ask her a question or share something they’ve noticed can do it then. And it works—at every level. She learns about social media from the summer interns, and develops her mobile strategy with input from the tech team. Recently, even a janitor came to talk to her about his son’s college prospects.

Imagine how well-rounded you’d become if your antenna was always up; if you sought out and really listened to diverse perspectives in and outside your industry.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ve found that the most successful women understand the necessity of and make a conscious effort to delegate. This is something that’s important at every level of your career—in whatever business you’re in. You have to learn that you cannot do it all. Because something will always give, and it may just be your sanity.

Now I say that it’s intentional, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Most of us are familiar with our inner control freaks, that little voice that says, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” It can lead you to take over projects, not give your staff enough line to make decisions, maybe not even let your husband clean the house or make the kids lunches his way. If you’re always taking responsibility for everything—even the little stuff—the demands become so great and so stressful that you practically ensure your own failure. At the same time, you’re showing others you don’t trust them.

These women have learned that to be successful they have to have help, and they have to have faith in the people around them—at work and at home. If you think of your career as a juggling act of various balls, ask yourself which of those balls are made of glass and would shatter if dropped, and which are made of rubber and would bounce back. Give away the rubber balls. Get them off your mind. And I promise, if your husband gives the kids lunch money rather than a brown bag, they will survive.

Katie Taylor, the CEO of hotel brand Four Seasons, recently admitted to me that she is a bit of a control freak, but for the good of her and everyone around her, she tries to delegate. “Sit on your hands, if you have to,” she said. “Get yourself to that place.”

I’ve shared what I’ve learned from these women, but I thought you might want to hear directly from them. With the help of the fabulous Forbes Video Team, I put together a short video of some of the world’s most powerful women offering up their secrets to success:


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