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Forbes Magazine Releases Their List of the 70 Most Powerful People

Last week Forbes Magazine released their list of the 70 Most Powerful People in the World. I admit I was a bit taken back by two key points of their piece:

  • Forbes’ headline declared that of the 7 billion people in the world, these were the 70 “who mattered”
  • Only six of the people mentioned were women

According to Forbes, the ranking takes into account four factors: the number of people a person has power over, the financial resources a person controls, the number of spheres of influence the person has, and how actively the person wields his or her power.

If those are the only four factors that make someone matter in this world, then no wonder only six women made the list. While I certainly admire the six women featured (Angela Merkel, Sonia Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, Dilma Rousseff, Christine Lagarede, and Jill Abramson), a person’s true power goes way beyond the Forbes criteria.

If I were to create such a list, I’d add one important criterion that I believe reflects a person’s power: the ability to persuade people with the spoken word (yes, I think presentation skills are that important!). This simple addition would open the list to so many influential female speakers,  such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman, Oprah Winfrey, and Melinda Gates, just to name a few. These are people who, with their words, started revolutions, changed lives, created opportunities, and positively influenced the world in some important way. Now that’s power!

Sadly, by creating this list, Forbes is inadvertently saying that power relates only to money and numbers (i.e. the number of people the person oversees), and those are the elements for being someone who “matters.” I hope most people don’t feel compelled to research a person’s financial power or organization’s size before they decide to respect, admire, and value that person. A person’s power should be measured in many ways, not just by the numbers.

What do you think? Should more women have made the list? If so, who would you include and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

This blog is part of my Wednesday for Women blog series, where I feature stories, resources and information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. Please enjoy these weekly Wednesday blogs and forward them to the powerful women in your life.

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November 8th, 2011 | Permalink | Trackback | Bookmark and Share


1 Response to Forbes Magazine Releases Their List of the 70 Most Powerful People

  1. Conor Neill

    I agree. There is power that comes from the role you hold, and there is power that comes from you, the person. Few people have the power of Oprah as a person – and in particular because of her communication skills.

    Martin Luther King is the person that I believed changed the world most with just words – he had not so much financial, political, organizational power as he had persuasive power.

    I’m with you. Add this criterion!

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