What Makes a Great Female Speaker on Leadership?
In a male-dominated world, it is inspiring to hear when a woman has achieved leadership status within her organization. Although women make up about 47% of the workforce in the US, not even 25% of all senior executives at large US public companies are women. Even worse, only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, only 7% of top executives in Fortune 100 companies are women, and only 10% of top management positions in S&P 1500 companies are held by women.
However, when a woman does defy these odds set by society and achieves a leadership role within her organization, her accomplishments are remarkable. And when these female leaders become female keynote speakers or women leadership speakers, we can learn a lot from them.
But what exactly makes a great female speaker on leadership? After digging a little deeper into our roster of successful female leaders, we found 3 key overarching traits.
1. Experience: If you want to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. The speakers that can share real stories and speak to what they are preaching are the most reputable. A great women’s leadership speaker can tell her audience how she made it to her leadership position, and how she then managed to successfully lead her team.
2. Resilience: It is tough attaining a leadership position when most of your fellow C-Suite members are men. And once you get there, it is even tougher to stay resilient. But once a woman has achieved this feat, others can learn a lot about a woman’s rise to the top and how to be a great leader.
3. Vision: The most successful female leaders are those who are forward-thinking and innovative. They are 3 steps ahead of their competitors and are able to adapt to any situation. Many of the women that we represent have maintained flexible plans for the future and have managed to steer their organizations in the right direction for the better.
Great Female Speakers on Leadership
Combining their experience, resilience, and vision, here is a list of great female speakers that can speak to leadership from their own experience at your next event:
CHIEF CARMEN BEST | Former Chief of Police in Seattle, WA
The first African-American woman to hold the top policing job in Seattle, Washington, Chief Carmen Best (Ret.) served with the Seattle Police Department for 28 years. In 2018, Best was promoted to Chief of Police, a job she called “a dream of a lifetime,” managing approximately 2,000 sworn and civilian employees. Best quickly began efforts to diversify the police force, which had long been less diverse than the city, recruiting more than 40 new officers of color.
SUSAN GORDON | 30-Year National Security Leader, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
One of the most accomplished leaders in the history of national security, Sue M. Gordon is the former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) – the country’s number two ranking intelligence official. Gordon’s transformative leadership focused on integrating intelligence across the organization, expanding outreach and partnerships, driving innovation, and advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the Community.
NADJA WEST | First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command
A trailblazer in female leadership, Lieutenant General (ret) Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of US Army Medical Command. She is the first African American woman 3-star General in the Army’s history, and currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.=
SUSAN DESMOND-HELLMANN | Former CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellman was the third-ever CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s largest philanthropies with 1,500 employees. She led the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.
SARAH ROBB O'HAGAN | Legendary Business Leader, CEO of EXOS, Former CEO of Flywheel Sports, Former Global President of Gatorade, Former Marketing Director at Nike, Founder & Author of Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass, Repeat
Described by the media as everything from “Superwoman undercover” to “The Pied Piper of potential,” Sarah Robb O’Hagan is an executive, activist, entrepreneur, and founder of Extreme Living—a company designed to help individuals, teams, and organizations play to their highest potential. She is now the CEO of EXOS, the world leader in elite performance training that helps people reach higher and achieve more.
LISA JASTER | Army Ranger, Leadership and Peak Performance Expert
Army Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Jaster is a soldier, an engineer, a wife and mother, and a trailblazer. One of only three women to graduate from the first integrated United States Army Ranger program—one of the most difficult combat training courses in the world—Lisa was the first female Army Reserve officer to become a Ranger.
SUSAN O'MALLEY | Former President of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards, First Female President of a Professional Sports Franchise
As the first female president of a professional sports franchise, Susan O’Malley is a pioneer in two fields: sports and business. She knows what it takes to be a leader in a tough business environment and how to create an organization from the ground up.
CARLA HARRIS | Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a leading keynote speaker on motivation, success, and exceeding expectations. The recipient of numerous awards, including being named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America,” Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013.
ANN DUNWOODY | First Female Four-Star General, Retired Commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command, and Author of A Higher Standard
General Ann Dunwoody is the former commanding general of one of the Army’s largest commands, the US Army Materiel Command. She is the first woman in US military history to achieve a four-star officer rank, and US Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno called her “quite simply the best logistician the Army has ever had.” She led many divisions at home and abroad and commanded at every level.
DAWN HUDSON | Former Chief Marketing Officer at the National Football League & Former President and CEO of Pepsi Cola North America
Whether serving as CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, or Chairman of the Board, Dawn Hudson has led an impressive career spanning high-level posts in media, retail, consumer goods, consulting, and healthcare at some of the biggest corporations in the world including the NFL, PepsiCo, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Allergan, PF Chang’s, the LPGA, and NVIDIA. From “Super Bowl Babies” to the return of the “Pepsi Challenge,” Hudson’s track record of success is packed with groundbreaking ideas born of an ability to see what’s around the corner and the importance of strong and inclusive leadership.
MOLLY FLETCHER | Pioneering Female Sports Agent and CEO
Molly Fletcher is a trailblazer in every sense of the word—a rare talent of business wisdom, relationship brilliance, and unwavering optimism. As a CEO, she shares her unconventional and unique techniques that made her one of the first female sports agents in the high stakes, big ego world of professional sports, and now a successful entrepreneur.
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