March Comes In Like a Lioness: Celebrating Women Role Models

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay

March is Women’s History Month, so it is fitting that the month begins like a lioness and hopefully will stay as strong in recognition of women role models for the rest of the year. No bowing out like a lamb. Aiming to honor all those who have shaped our culture throughout history and those who are coming up in the world, we march into March applauding our sisters who are women leaders and role models in business and beyond.We so agree on the choices made by Daily Worth choosing a lucky 7 list of extraordinarily innovative women leaders who change the way we think about sport, film, science and even death.We point to Misty Copeland, the first ever African American principal dancer at American Ballet Theater. Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, founder and director of Personal Robots Group at MIT’s Media Lab as well as founder of Jibo, Inc., makes that archaic, disproven “women can’t make it in STEM” argument evaporate like noxious vapor.As founder of DigitalUndivided, Kathryn Finney is an inspirational role model. And Ava Duvernay, the director of “Selma,” and a righteously brilliant Hollywood force earns our kudos. DuVernay days ago announced she will direct Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” a production adapted from the classic by Madeleine L’Engle.Also in the list of seven formidable women is Kathryn Smith whom the NFL hired as its first full time female coach. And working to change how our culture views death are Caitlin Doughty, creator of the web series, “Ask a Mortician,” and Amber Carvaly, founder of Undertaking LA.Hats off to all of them in a Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat in the air kind of way.Whatever field of discipline, sport, creative endeavor or startup business you embrace as a woman, it is essential to stay inspired, says Suneera Madhani, the founder and CEO of Fattmerchant in Fortune. Networking will help.“On the days you might be overwhelmed by the roadblocks or bogged down by the monotonous tasks, having the support system of a strong team allows that unique spark in you to be reignited,” she writes. “It’s an empowering feeling knowing you have a close network around you that is just as committed to the success of the business, and it’s a completely different motivation than when you first launch a business solo.”Madhani suggests you stay focused, maintain a clear vision of your goals and celebrate your successes as a woman leader. That is what we are doing here this month at Take The Lead, and will continue to do all year.Focus is also at the heart of advice from R. Kress writing in Ivyexec.com who urges women to be more productive and less procrastinating as a big deadline looms. To make success more likely, she says to eliminate “frivolous tasks” and breaking up the deadline into chunks and manageable deliverables.Entrepreneur magazine plots the career path of successful business leaders with a list of five jobs every leader — and it will definitely help women leaders— should have at some point in her life. Applaud yourself if you have had one of these hourly positions, as most women in this country likely have worked in retail, food, sales or customer service.According to the magazine, the fifth job that would be helpful to have on your resume as a leader is one in management. No worries if it is not the top spot in a company as managing your peers on projects also counts.“In any management position, you’ll learn teamwork, delegation, time-management and resource-allocation skills that you’ll need desperately when you’re running a business,” according to Entrepreneur.That has certainly been the case for Anne Ravanona, founder & CEO of Global Invest Her. Writing in Huffington Post, she highlights the work of trailblazing women. She recently interviewed Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association, representing more than 15,000 investors in Great Britain.“As women, our capacity is different, because we bring different talents and insights,” Tooth OBE told Ravanona. “Women are starting to come through in financial services, especially in more entrepreneurial areas like fintech, but there is also more to do to enable more women to get into leading positions on boards.”Working for parity and getting more women moving into leadership on boards and in corporate positions as well as owners of their own businesses are goals for Take The Lead. Along the way, there is time to stop and applaud the role models.Illinois State University recently honored a trio of women in the college of Applied Sciences and Technology. Jedidah Cantrell, vice president of operations for Swedish American Health System, offered a fitting piece of advice for any woman climbing her way to the top.“You have to do what you love doing, and not chase the money,” Cantrell says. “When you’re doing something you love, something that drives you, something that gives you a sense of satisfaction while you’re doing it, the money will follow.”Sage advice for, from and about women role models we believe are worth celebrating in March and all year long.