Leadership by Geoff Colvin

How to be a Fortune Most Powerful Woman: Step 4

July 17, 2008: 12:03 PM ET

Here's the fourth and final criterion for making the Fortune Most Powerful Women List: social and cultural influence. It's certainly more difficult to measure than revenues or profits, the health of a business, or even the arc of a woman leader's career. But vast social and cultural influence is precisely why Oprah Winfrey ranks No. 8 on our list. Her company, Harpo, is privately held and nowhere near the size of what other MPWomen control (typically businesses with at least $6 billion in sales). But given Oprah's media assets -- O, The Oprah Magazine, her own TV show, and her interests in Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, and more -- you see why we say she's more powerful even than some Fortune 500 CEOs, such as Sara Lee's (SLE) Brenda Barnes.

P.S. Another media mogul who used to be on the MPWomen list but is no more: Martha Stewart (MSO). She fell off in 2002 when she tumbled into her legal turmoil.

Click here to see video excerpts of a Most Powerful Women panel on leadership that we did in New York in May. The panel includes Ursula Burns, president of Xerox; Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon; and Ann Moore, CEO of Time Inc.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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MPWomen go Global

The Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership brings rising-star women from countries around the world to the U.S. for three-week mentorships with participants of the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit - among them Ursula Burns of Xerox, Laura Lang of Time Inc., Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Tory Burch.

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