10 Women Leaders Define What Power Means To Them

10 Women Leaders Define What Power Means To Them
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The growing prominence of women in positions of leadership has been one of the most significant transformations in recent decades. But, do you think we’ll know if women are “naturally” interested in top leadership positions until they actually achieve them without making personal sacrifices? Let’s hear it from the women leaders themselves. How do women leaders define power and what does it mean to them?

Condoleezza Rice, Former U.s. Secretary Of State

1. Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State

“Power is nothing unless you can turn it into influence. When people talk about management style, they’re really talking about how someone uses power. I’ve been in positions where I had to be heavy-handed, and I’ve been in positions where I needed to bring people together and persuade them … But sometimes you have to make difficult decisions, and you have to make them stick.”

Oprah, February 2002

Sandra Day O’connor, Former Supreme Court Justice

2. Sandra Day O’Connor, Former Supreme Court Justice

“For both men and women, the first step in getting power is to become visible to others — and then to put on an impressive show. The acquisition of power requires that one aspires to power and that one believes power is possible. As women then achieve power and exercise it well, the barriers fall. That’s why I’m optimistic. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be even more women out there doing things — and we’ll all be better off for it.

Certainly today, women should be optimistically encouraged to exercise their power and their leadership skills wherever it might take them.”

The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice, April 2004

Women In Leadership

3. Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

“Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that.”

Fast Company, April 2011

Madeleine: Women In Leadership

4. Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

“I have often been the only woman in the room, and I thought to myself, ‘Well, I don’t think I’ll say anything today because it’ll sound stupid,’ and then some man says it and everyone thinks it’s brilliant, and you think, ‘Why didn’t I talk?’ If we are in a meeting, we’re there for a reason. The bottom line is, if you’re only there, not speaking, you kind of create the impression that you’re not prepared to be there. ”

Time, September 2017

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5. Emmeline Pankhurst, British Political Leader

“Women are very slow to rouse, but once they are aroused, once they are determined, nothing on Earth and nothing in heaven will make women give way; it is impossible. And so this ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ which is being used against women today has failed.” —“Freedom or Death,” November 1913

Sheryl Sandberg, Coo, Facebook

6. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

“I know that for many women, getting to the top of their organization is far from their primary focus. My intention is not to exclude them or ignore their valid concerns. I believe that if more women lean in, we can change the power structure of our world and expand opportunities for all. More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women.”

Lean In, March 2013

Gloria Steinem, Journalist

7. Gloria Steinem, Journalist

“We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.”

—The Chicago Tribune, April 2003

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8. Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors

“Wherever you are in your career — your first position, or a manager, or even an executive — you have to be ready to stand up for yourself. But, it should be done in a firm but respectful way. Learning to read the situation is also important. Most of all, never waver on integrity. If someone calls you bossy because you didn’t let them push you around, so be it.”

—Refinery29, February 2015

Women Leaders Define Power

9. Melinda Gates, Philanthropist

“To me, empowerment means if a woman has her voice and her agency. Does she have the agency to make decisions on behalf of herself and her family? If you sit on a corporate board and you don’t think you can voice what you’re seeing on that board or in that corporation that is wrong, then you don’t have your voice …

When a woman in the U.S. gets on a corporate board, when there’s one of her, she’s not going to make a change. When there are two or three, then she has agency and she has her voice because there’s power in the collective. Then they get the other men on the board with her, who are also saying, ‘Hey, we’re seeing the same things,’ and they come forward as a group. There’s power in the collective of the group. Men have had these natural networks for a long time.

Women have tons of social networks, but it’s not until you get them together, and get them together in the right way, that they give women their voice and their agency.”

—The Cut, May 2016

Michelle Obama

10. Michelle Obama, Former First Lady

“For me, this issue has always been personal. See, back when I was a girl growing up in a working-class neighbourhood, most of the folks I knew — including my parents — didn’t go to college. But with a lot of hard work — and a lot of financial aid — I had the chance to attend some of the finest universities in the country. And I can tell you that education was everything for me. It opened doors. It gave me the confidence to pursue my ambitions and make my voice heard in the world. For me, education was power.”

Playbill, November 2016


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