Forbes sits down with some the world’s most powerful women to hear their insights on a variety of issues; including hurdles they’ve faced, lessons they have learned and advice they would pass on to the next generation.
Just a few insights from these powerful women:
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, points out the importance of a support network, noting that women who manage to work their way up work very hard–but nearly always have support from family, friends or society.
Television journalist Ann Curry talks work-life balance.
“When I’m at work, I’m 100 percent at work. Unless my kids are sick or there’s a problem, I’m all in, both feet, 100 percent. Because I know working hard and doing a good job is taking care of my family.” Advice to next generation: “Everything you dream of, that you care enough to not give up on…will come true.”
Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, points out that while 25 years ago, dealing with two small children felt overwhelming at times, she has learned that she can take on more responsibility than she realized.
Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of Huffington Post Media Group, points out: “I have not met a woman who has children and a career who is not guilty (feeling)”–but she says women should just do their best and trust that it will be good, even if we can’t become “superwomen.”
Jane Fonda reminds us that no one’s perfect.
“You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect,” she says, adding, “The most important thing is to stay interested. That’s much more important than being interesting.”
Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, advises everyone: Be true to yourselves. Listen to people you respect, she says, “but in the end,” she stresses “it has to come from you.”
Oprah Winfrey, chair of OWN, stresses the importance of shared vision.
“You have to have people whose vision is not only aligned with yours, but they also carry the passion for the vision as you do,” she says.
Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, values every member of her team. “You are only as good as the people who work for you,” she says. “I need the right person, in the right job, at the right time, with the right values and behaviors.” She also urges women to take the initiative even when it feels risky, noting: “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”
Anne Sweeney, co-chair at Disney Media Networks, praises the wonder and curiosity for which her company is known. “It’s curiosity that gets people excited. Curiosity leads to new ideas; curiosity leads to new jobs, new industries, and it perpetuates itself because it’s this neverending cycle of ‘What if?’ followed by ‘Why not?'”
Debra Lee, chair and CEO of BET, has worked hard to develop her own personal style, rather than worrying too much about what others think a man or woman “should” do. She also notes: “The hardest thing for me was to learn how to say no and to make some people unhappy.”
Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the World Food Programme, stresses the importance of balance–that it’s OK to say “No, I can’t”–which is a tough lesson for women in particular, but will lead to greater power and comfort in your role as a leader.
Personal finance expert Suze Orman believes in the power of delivering a message you believe in forcefully.
“People believe me, and they believe me because I’m not just speaking in words; I’m speaking in truth,” she says.
Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is well known for being a powerful leader and “leaning in”–but she emphasizes that success includes mentors, friends and supports; and she believes the relationships should be cultivated intentionally and naturally.
Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, delivers a powerful message to women worldwide: “If you are able to overcome your internal limitations as a woman, you will be able to any kind of goal you want to.”
Sara Blakely, the creator of SPANX, stresses the importance of inner drive.
“I don’t ever want fear to be the reason that I don’t experience something in life,” she says.
Watch the whole video for more insights from these powerful female leaders.