Reset Mindset: Leadership Lessons from 10 Great Women Leaders

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great women leaders embodying the reset mindset

March is Women’s History Month, and I want to shine the spotlight on great women leaders who exemplified the “Reset Mindset” in navigating the challenges and opportunities within the business landscape. Undoubtedly, the business landscape is constantly evolving demanding adaptability and resilience from leaders. 

In this dynamic terrain, the Reset Mindset is a powerful tool to fight challenges as they unravel and unlock success. 

These visionary women have leadership styles that embody the Reset Mindset. These helped them successfully lead transformative changes. They grew their businesses incredily, leaving a lasting impact on their industries. 

Each woman leader had a clear focus on strategic business strategy to foster resilience in themselves and others. And to deliver innovation and growth. 

Hence, these women showed the true depths of the reset mindset through their approach to change management. Examined together, each female leader has leadership lessons to share.

What is the Reset Mindset?

A Reset Mindset is a habit of mind that enables individuals to get unstuck, so they can focus on what matters most. Defined simply, the Reset Mindset is a pattern of thinking and beliefs centered around dynamic reassessment and the willingness to re-invent. 

It builds on the Growth Mindset made famous by Dr. Carol Dweck. It invites those who practice it to pivot more quickly and become more adaptable over time. This business approach fuels faster learning, better decision-making, and ultimately greater success. 

Effective leaders leverage the Reset Mindset to build high-performing, adaptable teams and drive groundbreaking innovations. Now let’s explore these great women leaders who accomplish incredible results through the Reset Mindset (Discover 10 great books on becoming an exceptional leader).

10 Great Women Leaders to Learn from in Women’s History Month

1. Embracing Change with Strategic Vision: Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

A photo of Indra Nooyi - one of the great women leaders

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo is one of the best women leaders who embodied the Reset Mindset in action. A paragon of leadership, she is known for masterfully combining business strategy with a visionary approach to steer one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. 

Nooyi’s tenure at PepsiCo was marked by her bold decision to pivot the company’s focus towards healthier products. This move was initially met with skepticism. But ultimately it positioned PepsiCo as a leader in the global health and wellness trend. 

This strategic shift was not just about altering product lines. It was a comprehensive change management endeavor that involved redefining the company’s purpose and re-engaging its global workforce around this new mission. 

Nooyi’s leadership style—communicative, inclusive, and forward-thinking—was instrumental in this transition. Her heart-centered approach to leadership ensured that employees were not just witnesses to change. But that they were active participants in the company’s evolution.

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2. Fostering Employee Engagement: Mary Barra, General Motors

A photo of Mary Barri - one of the great women leaders

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors (GM) is also one of the best women leaders, I’m acknowleding  this Women’s History Month. She has been a transformative figure in the auto indus

try, steering GM through significant technological and cultural shifts. 

Before Barra came on board, GM faced massive disruption with electrical vehicles and autonomous driving. This demanded a complete reassessment of everything from technology to talent. 

Under Barra’s leadership, GM has embraced electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies. This required a massive shift in employee skills, mindset, and engagement. 

Barra has been at the forefront of promoting an inclusive culture that values every employee’s contribution. She therefore, drove engagement through transparency, direct communication, and a clear vision for the future. Her leadership style is all about teamwork, innovation, quality and customer satisfaction. 

By engaging employees as key stakeholders in the company’s journey, Barra has fostered a sense of ownership and pride in GM’s mission, facilitating smoother adoption of new technologies and business models. The results are an engaged workforce, GM’s Cruise division gaining the forefront of autonomous driving, and booming electric vehicle sales. 

 

3.Increasing Focus Through Leadership: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

sheryl sandberg one of the best women leaders

Sheryl Sandberg is also one of the great women leaders we need to recognize for embodying the reset mindset in her leadership style. Specifically, as the former COO of Facebook (now Meta), Sheryl Sandberg exemplified how a focused leadership style can drive significant growth and brand development. 

Sandberg’s approach to leadership and business strategy was characterized by her emphasis on lean-in principles. She also advocated for women’s leadership and promoted an environment where employees feel empowered to take initiative and lead. 

Her focus on scaling the business through targeted advertising platforms and enhancing user engagement helped Facebook grow into a global social media powerhouse. 

Sandberg’s clear vision helped her team focus on specific goals that were crucial in navigating the rapidly changing digital landscape. hence, she demonstrated how increased focus and strategic alignment can amplify a brand’s impact and market presence.

4. Transforming Media and Wellness: Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post & Thrive Global

Arianna Huffington - one of the best women leaders in women's history month

Arianna Huffington is a powerful voice among great women leaders, who transformed the media landscape and re-defined well-being in the workplace. 

As co-founder of The Huffington Post and founder of Thrive Global, Huffington has been a pioneering force in changing how people consume news and address their well-being. 

Her journey from launching one of the first major online news platforms to advocating for health and wellness underscores her adaptive leadership and innovative business strategy. 

By recognizing the digital shift in media consumption early on, she engaged a broad audience through compelling content and community engagement. 

Recognizing the need for a different approach to well-being, she pivoted towards addressing the burnout and stress epidemic through Thrive Global. This move showcases her ability to navigate change and prioritize employee engagement and wellness in the corporate strategy. 

By fostering a healthier, more productive workplace culture, Huffington established herself as a champion for well-being in business. Her story inspires leaders to be adaptable, prioritize people, and build a better future for everyone. 

5. Revolutionizing Real Estate and Entrepreneurship: Barbara Corcoran, The Corcoran Group

Barbara - one of the great women leaders

Barbara Corcoran is also one of the best women leaders, I want to acknowledge in Women’s History Month. 

Her transformation of The Corcoran Group from a small startup into a real estate powerhouse is a testament to her visionary business strategy and leadership style. Her story with the Corcoran Group isn’t just about success: It’s a masterclass of the Reset Mindset in action. 

She tells an impactful story about how she made a million dollars in one day and saved her company from bankruptcy.

Corcoran’s approach to change management has been about embracing risk, fostering innovation, and engaging employees in the company’s growth. This has made her a role model for entrepreneurs worldwide. 

Her ability to identify and capitalize on market opportunities, combined with her unique leadership style encourages creativity and ownership among her team. This has been crucial in navigating the competitive real estate landscape and driving the company’s success.

6. Leading with Vulnerability: Brené Brown, Researcher and Author

Acknoledging Brene Brown on Women's History Month

Brené Brown, a renowned researcher and author, has revolutionized the understanding of leadership, vulnerability, and employee engagement. 

Through her research on the power of vulnerability, Brown has shown how leaders can foster a culture of openness and innovation by embracing their imperfections and encouraging their teams to do the same. 

This approach to leadership has profound implications for change management. So, it supports a more adaptive and resilient organizational culture – the hallmarks of the Reset Mindset. At the time, her findings challenged societal norms, and ignored a global conversation. 

Her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” became one of the most-watched TED Talks ever, with over 60 million views, propelling her into the spotlight.

By increasing focus on authentic communication and connection, Brown’s work has influenced diverse organizations across industries, inspiring them to foster a more authentic and connected workplace. 

7. Media Mogul and Philanthropist: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey on Women's history month

Oprah Winfrey, a media mogul and philanthropist, has demonstrated exceptional leadership in building her brand and engaging with her audience on a profound level. Her journey isn’t just an inspiring story; it’s a powerful embodiment of the Reset Mindset in action. 

Winfrey’s ability to connect with people, combined with her business acumen, has seen her empire grow from a television show to a multimedia and philanthropic organization. She stands tall as one of the great women leaders to celebrate Women’s History Month. 

From defying low expectations to overcoming discrimination, she honed her voice and used it to advocate for others especially women and marginalized communities. 

Recognizing the lack of diverse voices on television, she pivoted the traditional talk show format to center on meaningful conversations, empathy, and personal growth. This dynamic reinvention not only shattered viewership records but also redefined the power of talk shows, influencing generations to come.

Beyond that, her leadership style combining empathy, integrity, and inclusivity, has been pivotal in her change management strategy. This powerful leadership approach allows her to navigate the media industry’s evolution while staying true to her mission of empowerment. 

Winfrey’s focus on personal and professional development among her employees and audience has cemented her status as a transformative leader in business and beyond. 

She has launched the careers of many product designers and manufacturers and invested in mission-based businesses including True Food Kitchen, Weight Watchers, and many more.

8. Innovating the Fashion Industry: Sara Blakely, SPANX®

Sara Blakely - one of the strong women leaders around the globe

Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX®, has redefined the fashion industry with shapewear that solves the problem of underwear showing. Her unique approach to business and leadership propelled her to a billion-dollar empire. She’s a beacon of inspiration, making her one of the great women leaders. I’m talking about this Women’s History Month. 

Blakely’s entrepreneurship journey went from selling fax machines to becoming the youngest self-made female billionaire. This showcases her ability to identify a gap in the market and pursue her vision with relentless determination. 

Her leadership style emphasizes resilience, creativity, and direct engagement with customers and employees, fostering a culture of innovation and growth. She learned to find the silver lining in moments of failure, turning disappointment into opportunity.

She never shied away from resetting possibilities and proved that with courage, resourcefulness, and a willingness to adapt, anyone can rewrite their story and become a leader in their chosen field. 

Blakely’s strategic focus on brand building, coupled with her commitment to empowering women, exemplifies effective change management and business strategy in a competitive industry.

 

9. Empowering Women in Technology: Ginni Rometty, IBM

Ginni Rometty is a beacon among the best women leaders in history. As former CEO of IBM, she was instrumental in steering one of the world’s largest technology companies through significant transformations. Rometty’s focus on innovation, particularly in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, repositioned IBM as a leader in the tech industry. 

She rapidly changed the talent pool for IBM inviting diversity and incentivizing a skills-view not just a degree-view of jobs. In an interview with McKinsey & Company she says, “Along the whole journey [of transformation], access and aptitude are different. What is it now? It’s curiosity and the willingness to learn something new that makes the biggest difference.”

Her leadership style balances strategic foresight with a deep commitment to employee engagement and leadership development. This has been key in navigating the challenges of the rapidly evolving tech landscape. 

Rometty’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion, along with her efforts to grow leaders within the organization. This reflects a comprehensive approach to change management that prioritizes both technological advancement and human capital.

1-. Pioneering Growth Mindset in Education: Carol Dweck, Psychologist and Author

Carol Dweck on the growth mindset

Dr. Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist and author, has made significant contributions to education and business through her research on the “growth mindset.” Dweck’s work emphasizes the power of believing that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. 

This concept of mindset has transformed educational and business practices by encouraging a focus on learning processes rather than innate talent, fostering resilience and perseverance among students.

Dweck’s leadership influenced curriculum development and guided teachers in engaging students more effectively. She has helped educators create environments where students embrace challenges, persist through difficulties, and see failure as a learning opportunity.

Her extensive research mindset extends beyond education, to understanding of how mindset and company culture can create conditions for success in the business world. Researchers surveyed employees at seven Fortune 1000 companies to assess their mindset. They found that employees in a growth mindset company are 47% more likely to say their colleagues are trustworthy, 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company, and 49% more likely to say that the company fosters innovation. 

Dr Dweck made it possible to understand that soft skills and beliefs (mindset) are essential skills to excelling personally and professionally. She advocates for a growth mindset where individuals are always learning and growing, even in the face of error or failure. 

Wrapping Up: Reset Your Mindset and Reinvent Your Future Via Lessons from Great Women Leaders

Women’s History Month shines a light on remarkable women who shape our world. Specifically, we recognize how their leadership aligns with the powerful concept of the Reset Mindset.

While the Growth mindset encourages continous learning, the Reset Mindset elevates it. It prompts individuals to learn from experiences proactively assess their realities, and reinvent themselves in the face of change. This flexibility and adaptability are crucial in today’s fast-paced world.

These 10 great women leaders are prime examples of how the Reset Mindset can drive profound change and success in the business world. Their stories highlight the importance of adaptability, strategic vision, and the empowerment of others as key components of effective leadership and business growth.

These women effectively managed transitions, looked for the gift in failures, reinvented their companies, and as a result, have propelled their companies to new heights. 

For organizations looking to thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape, leadership lessons from women leaders offer a roadmap for success. Each woman’s Reset Mindset—an emphasis on how they approach challenges and opportunities—helped them rapidly assess and reassess their business strategy, evaluate smart ways forward with focus, adapt as necessary, and drive ahead to reach their biggest goals. Learn more about how to pre-order The Reset Mindset and find out how to book Penny Zenker to speak at your next corporate event.