Last year, Fortune announced that for the first time, 6.4% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women — a new record. While we can all agree that’s far too low, this is an unprecedented increase of more than 50%. In even better news, there are more resources than ever directed towards learning what qualities and circumstances drive women into corporate leadership. Korn Ferry conducted a study on 57 women with CEO experience and found that few set out to be a CEO but thrived on challenges and were motivated by purpose and culture.
There’s a lot we can learn from these trailblazers, so here are nine times female business leaders inspired us with their words.
Follow Your Passion
“What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best — which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is. When I did that, success found me.”
Debbi Fields – Mrs. Fields
Avoid the Easy Road
“Go through some difficult experiences. If you can live through them and learn from them, you have a much better chance of knowing what to do when the chips are down and everyone else is freaking out.”
Debra. A. Cafaro – Ventas, Inc.
Don’t Wait Until You’re Ready
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
Marissa Mayer – Yahoo
Embrace the Unknown
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
Sara Blakely – Spanx
“Option A is not available. So let’s kick the sh** out of option B.”
Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook
“If we can learn to deal with our discomfort and just relax into it, we’ll have a better life.”
Mellody Hobson – Ariel Investments
Find a Mentor, Then Be a Mentor
“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”
Melinda Gates – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes — understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
Adriana Huffington – Huffington Post
Don’t Fear Obstacles
“If you are committed to creating value and if you aren’t afraid of hard times, obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps, but with no real power. The world respects creation; people will get out of your way.”
Candice Carpenter – iVillage
Today, the odds may be against women to become business leaders, but that didn’t stop these power women from advancing all the way in their organizations. The trend is slowly but surely continuing, and why shouldn’t it? Studies consistently prove that women leaders are just as or even more effective as male leaders.
Feeling inspired? With some passion, a few mistakes, and a little fearlessness you could be on your way to the top.
About the Author
Jamie Lowary is the Channel Relations Manager for PATLive. PATLive is a 24/7 live answering service that answers calls for thousands of businesses nationwide using its proprietary software and top-notch agents. Follow Jamie on Twitter (@JamieNLowary) for insight into business communication, customer service, and more.