From pop culture icons and authors to political figures and OPRAH, there are strong women showing how empowerment and voice can provoke real social change. Meantime, with the Winter Olympics just around the corner, it’s a matter of days before female athletes who have overcome all sorts of obstacles will emerge to inspire many women to step up and take the lead. It’s time to ponder the Olympic podium and all corners of the world to celebrate female empowerment.

What sets these women apart as leaders? How can you draw on your power to effect betterment and change?

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1) Communication is Key.

If Oprah, Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg share one thing in common, it’s their ability to look others in the eyes, to listen, to learn and to then – and only then – to speak. Being a great leader depends upon being a stellar communicator. Communication has more to do with silence, sitting, listening, thinking and learning than it does with speaking. Enough said!

2) Be Open to Ideas (and prepared for falls).

You might think you know exactly how the world should be. But, strict adherence to an agenda without wiggle room doesn’t account for reality. Take a cue from one of the best ski racers in U.S. History, Lindsey Vonn. A top athlete, like Vonn, sets lofty goals and goes after them with gusto. But even Vonn can’t control the weather on the mountaintop. When Vonn faces an 80 mph ski run on icy slopes, the goal of winning that particular race might morph midway through into saving some energy for falling correctly! Elite athletes realize nothing is set in stone. And, while there might be an overarching goal guiding you, the parameters of play sometimes change. This is similar to the way culture is constantly negotiated and changing in relation to the economy and politics. Be prepared. Be fearless. But be flexible and don’t freak out if you do a face-plant!

strong female leader

3) Trust Your Skills and Those of Others.

Olympic gymnasts, like Simone Biles and her teammates, know every subtle movement they do – from a flick of the fingertips to the point of a toe – can alter the outcome of any routine. Those women seek to perfect their individual actions. However, any woman who has led knows that trying to micromanage other people stymies projects before they get off the ground. Biles can point her toes. But, she can’t point a teammate’s toes! Biles presumably trusts the people around her to perform their best as coaches, spotters, and teammates. Empowered women know their strengths, accept support from others and provide support to others.

4) Take Action.

Mother Teresa DID. She didn’t sit around and wait to be asked to help. She picked up whatever hand needed to be held with confidence, caring, and humility. Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Empowered women realize that every action and every expression of love and joy is a step toward betterment.

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