Great Women In History

Leadership Power

Leadership Vision –
Women have been blazing trails throughout history, but perhaps none have embodied the American pioneering spirit more than the women leaders of NASA.

Beginning with Sally Ride as the first US women in space, through Eileen Colleens who served first as Shuttle Pilot and then as Shuttle Commander, women have blazed the trail across the night sky. They have also blazed the trail for all women who aspire to go where no woman has gone before – both professionally and metaphorically.

But the road into outer space was paved by women most of us have never heard of. “The Mercury 13” as they were known, were lead by female pilot Jerrie Cobb. She was one of a select group of women who were preparing alongside the original Mercury 7 male astronauts. Pilot Cobb arrived for astronaut training having logged 10,000 hours of flight time, while her male counterparts, including John Glenn, had only 5000. For reasons that were as unclear then as they are now, these women were denied the ride into history as NASA unexpectedly decided to focus solely on male astronauts and disband the womens program.

Thwarted in her attempt to explore outer space, but unwavering in her love for flying, Pilot Cobb dedicated herself to exploring “inner” space and flew missions into and above the Amazon jungle bringing hope, help, love and medical supplies to the indigenous jungle people. For her humanitarian efforts spanning more than 30 years, Jerrie Cobb was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Leadership Persistence –
Jerrie Cobb began flying as a 12-year old after spending a summer night camped out in the backyard gazing at the Oklahoma sky. Following her heart, she pursued flying and aviation mechanics (out of necessity) for the rest of her life. Recognizing her true happiness before she was old enough to appreciate its authenticity, allowed Jerrie Cobb to realize her full potential and achieve personal greatness.

These three women leaders, Cobb, along with Sally Ride and Eileen Collins all share a common denominator. They would not be denied! Even though Cobb was denied the opportunity to become an astronaut, she continued to pursue flying and in fact her greatest contributions ended up being humanitarian rather than scientific. Sally Ride dropped out of Swarthmore College to pursue a career as a professional tennis player but had to go to Plan B (PhD in astrophysics) when it became evident that she was not good enough to play tennis professionally. Eileen Collins family did not have enough money to send her off to college so she stayed home and studied hard enough at a local community college to earn a full academic scholarship to Syracuse University.

The initial path to greatness for each of these accomplished women was chock full of potholes and detours. Undaunted, each one found an alternative means to fulfill their destiny. Greatness may not always be easy to achieve, but it will always be worth every step. It takes a lot of brainpower to be a successful aviator, but all three of our flyers first had to flex their cranial muscles identifying their dreams and then figuring out how to pursue them. Ultimately their greatness was delayed, but not denied, because these three woman leaders had “the right stuff”.

You may not be entertaining thoughts of being an astronaut, but you must have big dreams. Imagine the dream created by this NASA recruitment information:

“The open positions require extensive travel on Earth and in space. Possible destinations may include, but are not limited to, Texas, Florida, California, Russia, Kazakhstan, the International Space Station and the moon.”

How might you identify your dream, begin to pursue it and achieve greatness?
I am dedicated to having you achieve your leadership potential. I invite you to begin your leadership journey right now and learn how you can create your own leadership plan. Visit and build your own path to becoming a great woman in history.

Values: Defining Your Leadership Values

A person who knows her own values, beliefs, and principles is much more likely to be a good leader than someone who does not know herself or chooses to remain blind to her ethics and values. This tip will outline how self-knowledge can take you on the path to great leadership.

Simply defined, leadership is all about building strong and loyal followers. To be a good leader, you need to have people who follow your lead and excel at everything that they do because of your leadership. But how do you build follower-ship? Well, contrary to what most people believe, others do not follow you because of the things that you have done or what you can do, but more so because of who you are being. And who you are being is only determined by knowing your values.

Values add character and substance to your personality, which in addition to your style, is what will drive how you use your leadership power. Good leadership demands self-discipline, which can only come from knowing your values and what you stand for. If you are in tune with what you believe, and also live by such beliefs; then what drives you is your character and not your emotions. And being character driven – that is the hallmark of a true leader.

Knowing your values also gives you precious insight into your strengths and your flaws. When you identify your own strengths and limitations, it is easy to recognize them in other people as well. This helps you, as a leader, to determine who is right for which task and motivating others to do the job right, which is what good leadership is all about.

Any work or deed which provides you with the chance to use your strengths and values will not only turn out to be highly successful, but will also give you utmost satisfaction and pleasure. Knowing your beliefs and values will help you to set your priorities and goals, which in turn will help you to express what you want from others, thus bringing about effective leadership. By identifying your principles and values, you can build standards for others to work by and follow, thus making you a good leader.

Effective use of leadership power can only begin when you can develop your own philosophy of leadership, for which, you need to understand your own values which drive your decisions. Once you have identified your values, you will be able to see clearly what drives you. Only after you can do this for yourself, can you expect to help other people realize their leadership potential – and that is truly rewarding for any powerful leader.

Vision: Creating Your Leadership Vision

Do you have a vision? A vision for your company? A vision for your team? Or, a vision for yourself? Creating your vision can be challenging for managers. We do not always take the time to think of the end first. And that is what a vision is – a picture of what our efforts will achieve in the end.

I had a vision for the company I led which was created by a team of employees and then reviewed by all employees for buy in. After it was tweaked, each employee set individual goals for their contribution to the company vision. For five years, we worked toward our vision of delivering excellent customer service. We were all honored and delighted when our Fortune 100 customer named us 2003 Tier One Supplier of the Year! We were awarded this great honor from their supplier community of 6000 suppliers. And we won this award for outstanding customer service.

It is amazing how opportunities, people and abundance begins to come into your life when you identify what your purpose is with a clear vision. I have created my own life vision which continues to pull me forward and guide my activities. It is a very powerful feeling to know exactly where you are headed.

To gain insight into creating your leadership vision, one word comes to mind – Clarity.

I believe clarity is key to any leader’s development. You must be clear about where you are headed, what is your vision, what is your purpose. One of the main secrets to being successful is to take the time to think through what is important to you. Being clear about what motivates you, and knowing your values, allows you to make the right choices in life supporting your clear vision. If you do not know where you are headed in life, there is no way you can make a success of it, let alone guiding others to do well.

I believe all of your life experiences, good and bad, help to define who you are. Taking the time to establish your personal vision is critical. I refined my own vision over several years. I attended leadership conferences, hired a business coach, read books and listened to many audio CD books. As in business, lots of input, research and thoughtful discussion are necessary for creating a vision. Start where you are now with a clear vision and refine it over time.

A leader with a vision, who knows where she is heading, is able to make decisions amongst tough choices. I have come across many people in life who complain about how unlucky they are, and how they cannot get a break no matter how hard they try. But when you ask them what it is they want to accomplish, or what their goals are, you get answers like, “Maybe I’ll do this…” “Perhaps I should try that…” “I’m not entirely sure…” etc. This indicates that the person clearly has no confidence or clarity about where they are headed and struggle to decide amongst even the simplest of choices. And yet they complain about not being successful.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
Which road do I take?” she asked.
His response was a question: “Where to you want to go?”
I don’t know,” Alice answered.
Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Start today, begin to create your vision. You will be amazed what world has in store for you when you are open to letting the ideas in.

Leadership in 2009

Are you glad 2008 is over? Ready to move on…
I am sure that Rick Wagner, GM CEO, Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary, Angelo Mozilo, Former Countrywide CEO – just to name a few well known folks representing leadership in the workplace – are ready to move on!

2008 was definitely a year full of examples of misguided leadership. You can read more about the 21 Dumbest Moments in Business if you are really interested in learning from what not to do. These few individuals, mostly the Auto Execs and our US Senators, have led to some lively conversations with my family and with friends. Many of my business associates and good friends (including my son who coops for GM) are directly feeling the impact of the credit crunch and the automotive companies’ ills.

I always ask my clients and team members to reflect on the previous year – take a moment to reflect on both the breakdowns and the breakthroughs. What did you learn? What would you do differently? What did you accomplish that you are most proud of? I encourage you to take a moment and jot down a few reflections.

This time of year always represents a time for a fresh perspective. I take the time to look at the big picture… how am I doing on progress to my five year goals? Do I need to do some tweaking? Do I want to add any new or totally eliminate a goal that no longer has any meaning? This is the one thing I love about my goal setting – their mine and I can do anything I want with them. Having goals in place settles me, gives me a feeling of knowing where I am going … and yet I know I can change them. My crystal ball isn’t always clear and so I can chuckle at myself when I look at a goal and say “Geez, what planet was I on when I set that one!”

Are you looking forward to 2009?
I am. And being a loyal stockholder, employee, supplier and buyer of General Motors vehicles (GM was my first employer after college, my grandfather worked for GM Truck and Bus and my son now works there), I pray that GM and the US automotive leaders step up to the kind of leadership that is required for what needs to be done in 2009. My thoughts and prayers go to all of those who are being affected by our economic dynamics. It is my hope that Rick Wagner, Henry Paulson, Barack OBama and their teams are looking forward to 2009 and are up for the challenges that demand great leadership.

Happy New Year!

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