Smart, Candid Power

Over the past few weeks, there have been front cover articles on two of the world’s most powerful women: Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. (At both Time and Newsweek.) These leaders serve from opposite sides of the political arena, yet, I believe that they possess several of the same leadership qualities which have no doubt served them well. What can we learn from them?

1. Know your stuff. They are both smart, enterprising, studied leaders. Neither stopped learning when they assumed each new position; in fact, I believe they studied even harder.

2. Talk straight. Though many many may disagree with their positions, giving the “straight and skinny” is  imperative in their roles. There is no room for watered-down diplomacy; there has to be diplomacy anchored in facts. Candor can indeed be a powerful approach in negotiations.

3. Be brave. Popularity is not the end game. Being brave – to stand tall in the face of controversy from all sides, including their own – is a requirement. Can you even imagine going into the various situations they faced – from 9/11/01 to today’s tumultuous unrest – all around the world?

4. Take nothing personally.  This gets easier as we move up the ladder of success. Regardless, we are all part of the “human condition”, and have feelings. Despite the many lives lost, hard decisions made, and sharp criticism of these respective leaders, they both stayed the course against formidable odds.

5. Always do your best. It cannot be disputed that these women, as different as they are in approach, style and values, work like Trojan horses. They continually put their best foot forward; again, it matters not whether we agree with their individual stances on issues. Their work ethics are undeniable.

Of course, neither of these leaders are perfect. They have faults, have made mistakes, and certainly are still learning. Yet I, for one, admire both of them for their contributions and what we can learn from their examples.

6 responses to “Smart, Candid Power

  1. I had the priviledge of hearing Condoleezza speak in person a few years ago at a private company event… I agree with your observations! She was incredibly articulate, poised, direct and gracious as well as generous with Q&A time. Her intellect, drive, courage, charisma and strong values make her an incredible role model…especially for young ladies. Thanks for reminding me that a few of our politicians really are worthy of admiration.

  2. Dear Kristin,
    Fabulous article on women’s leadership and power! Points are great and highlighted two international leaders who represent the best of women in power.
    Thanks, I am saving this one!! Ginger

  3. I agree with Alysen and Ginger and will add this: I most appreciated xeeing leaders from BOTH sides of the political arena highlighted together. A good writer has my interest anytime she (or he) focuses on what is best about the subject(s) rather than the opposite. I’ll keep this one too.

  4. Kristen — I agree completely with the comments above. Love the article and using women on both sides of the political aisle. It really magnifies the credibility of your comments. Great article.

  5. In my early years on the farm we used horses and plows, a farmer was judged by by how straight his furrows were. Plowing a straight furrow required that you started with your eyes on a target and never looked aside or back. This became a way of describing that a man that never promised anything before thinking through what the result would require and always did what he said he would do.

    In the last presidential election I wrote down what each candidate promised and when he first promised it. On election day I knew which candidate would plow a straight furrow if he had been on a farm. I voted for that person.

    Looking back on events since then, which person did I vote for?

    In business and sales you must be able to plow a straight furrow to be successful over many years.

    These two women both plow straight furrows.

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