Women leaders and successful women in business have overcome hurdles which both women and men can relate to, often making them excellent keynote and/or motivational speakers. These women are especially powerful and in-demand by audiences when their accomplishment is monumental by any standard, such as leading a Fortune 20, establishing a multi-billion dollar organization from scratch, commanding a U.S. Naval station, becoming a renowned business and media icon, or chairing a major financial institution. These women leaders don’t just beat the odds, they defy them.
Showcasing and differentiating to your audience “women” as leaders is compelling because there are industries which remain male-dominated, so it’s especially notable when women leaders have overcome remarkable odds in reaching the top of those organizations. Especially within technology, financial or defense sectors, women are the minority, so the experience of seeing, firsthand, those exceptional women provides a powerful backdrop and statement that resonates well with audiences.
Lastly, women leaders often exemplify the leadership traits and qualities that propelled them to become industry leaders. Creating a leadership style for a woman has different characteristics than a man’s leadership style; in fact, there have been studies that share that:
- Women leaders are often more persuasive
- Women leaders often overcome adversity by adopting an “I’ll show you” approach as opposed to a more traditional “I’ll tell you” management style
- Women typically demonstrate higher team-building styles
- Women take risks and “draw outside the lines” to create a new rulebook
Notable women leaders such as Carly Fiorina, Sheila Bair, Nancy Brinker, Maria Teresa Kumar, and Marty Evans are excellent representations of powerful women leaders.
- Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, serving as the Chairman and CEO of HP. Rising to the top of a technology company is no simple feat for a woman in the male-dominated technology sector. She is the NYT best-selling author of Tough Choices.
- Sheila Bair, as Chairman, successfully guided the FDIC through the stormy economy of the Great Recession and audiences crave her insights. She is a recognized authority on the financial industry and was named in TIME 100 as well the Wall Street Journal’s “The 50 Women to Watch”. She is the NYT best-selling author of Bull by The Horns.
- Nancy Brinker founded the Susan G. Komen foundation and is regarded as the leader of the global breast movement. To date, her organization has invested more than $2.2 billion in breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment, in more than 30 countries worldwide. TIME Magazine named her to its “100 Most Influential People” list. She is the NYT best-selling author of Promise Me, based on the simple promise she made to her dying sister.
- Maria Teresa Kumar, the founding President and CEO of Voto Latino and an Emmy-nominated contributor with MSNBC. She is the host of Changing America for MSNBC.Com. Fast Company named her among the top 1000 creative minds in business worldwide for her unique use of technology, media and celebrity to make transformative change and mobilizing the fastest growing group of Americans, namely 53 million Latinos with $1.3 trillion purchasing power.
- Marty Evans, the first female to command a U.S. naval station, is another excellent example of a powerful women leader who reached the pinnacle. At the time of her retirement, she was the highest ranking woman in the Navy. Marty Evans also had leadership roles at the Girl Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, and was instrumental in the national response to Hurricane Katrina.
These exceptional women leaders inspire audiences through their spectacular achievements and via the stories and meaningful lessons they weave into their message for overcoming all obstacles.