15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

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It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had just wrapped up her keynote and was basking in the applause as hundreds of women streamed out of the main auditorium toward the Career Fair. I was standing at my booth, ready to meet and greet the hordes of excited, pumped up and friendly women, when suddenly I realized what music was playing in the background and cringed:

She was a fast machine. She kept her motor clean.
She was the best damn woman that I ever seen.
She had the sightless eyes telling me no lies.
Knocking me out with those American thighs…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love AC/DC. (I’m Australian, so it’s pretty much compulsory to head bang every time I hear that particular song.) I do, however, question the sanity of whoever thought a song like “You Shook Me All Night Long” was an appropriate choice for the playlist at a professional businesswomen’s conference! Or, really, any kind of professional conference anywhere.

(As it happens, I spend a lot of time at women’s leadership conferences and have experienced quite a few cringeworthy moments. Like, for example, the C-level executive who was keynoting his manufacturing company’s women’s leadership conference. His message to seventy of the firm’s top high-potential women leaders was that if they truly wanted to advance into senior leadership, they were going to have to make tough choices, and should not spend too much time on leisure activities like “huntin’ and fishin.’” I wish I’d asked him what he thought about golf.)

So anyway, when it came to running creating my own playlist for my Poised for Leadership workshops and the other corporate and professional women’s events I speak at, I laid out some criteria. The songs needed to be energizing, uplifting, inclusive, and (mostly) by women. I vetted the lyrics for naughty words and phrases (Sorry, Beyoncé.) And since then, people have been asking me to share the playlist. It even occasionally doubles as my running playlist. Here it is:

15 Leadership Songs

Brave by Sara Bareilles
• Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine
Dreams by The Cranberries
Firework by Katie Perry
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
Happy by Pharrell Williams
• Happy Girl by Martina McBride
Just a Girl by No Doubt
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
Ray of Light by Madonna
Respect by Aretha Franklin
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
Try by P!nk
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Working 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

Try it next time you need a little “managerial mojo music” to lighten your leadership load.

Help me keep adding to it! What’s on your leadership playlist?

Jo Miller

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

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