How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Fortune awards 2012 Global Women Leaders

August 9, 2012: 1:33 PM ET

Real power is personal power—what you do beyond your official job description.

As I've come to know the leaders who make up Fortune's Most Powerful Women community, I've embraced this kind of power. It makes work more than a job.

CEOs like Ursula Burns of Xerox (XRX), Tory Burch, Ellen Kullman of DuPont (DD), Marissa Mayer of Yahoo (YHOO), and Pat Woertz of ADM (ADM) are those sorts of leaders who go beyond the call, stretching their power even as they drill into their day jobs.

These women—as well as top female executives at companies like American Express (AXP), Citigroup (C), Google (GOOG), IBM (IBM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Wal-Mart (WMT), as well as Fortune's parent, Time Warner (TWX)—have participated in Fortune's Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership.

This program, launched in 2006 in partnership with the U.S. State Department, brings rising-star women from developing countries to the U.S. each May to shadow these and other attendees of Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit. Over the past six years, 200 women from 49 countries have completed the program. To fuel their power globally, we created an award with Goldman Sachs (GS) to honor the most extraordinary of these alums who, after spending a month in the U.S., go home and pay it forward there.

And now, we're announcing the 2012 winners of the Goldman Sachs & Fortune Global Women Leaders Award. Among 25 very impressive applicants, we selected these three:

2012 honoree Madhu Uday of India

Catherine Nyambala, who shadowed Marissa Mayer at Google in 2010. An electrical engineer from Kenya, Catherine is now building various programs at home to educate and empower female scientists and engineers. Mayer, who left Google last month to take the CEO job at Yahoo, has visited Catherine in Africa twice and is spurring her on.

Precious Simba, who shadowed Xerox CMO Christa Carone and Y&R (WPPGY) Worldwide Managing Partner Shelley Diamond in 2011. In her native Zimbabwe, Precious has launched mentoring clubs to encourage girls to stay in school. With the help of Xerox and Y&R, she's also created a video series, Future Self, about empowerment.

Madhu Uday, an alum of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women Initiative, which provides business and management education to women around the world. In India, differential treatment and poor access to resources put girls at "a serious disadvantage," Madhu notes. So she is building a skills training and mentoring center for underprivileged young mothers. "Empowerment through employment" is her objective.

We'll honor these three women at the 2012 MPW Summit on October 2. They'll share a $50,000 prize and use the money to keep paying it forward in their home countries.

Congratulations to our three honorees. Thanks to our panel of  judges: Solera Capital CEO Molly Ashby, Fulbright & Jaworski Partner Linda Addison, Vital Voices CEO Alyse Nelson, and Goldman Sachs Managing Director Dina Powell. And thanks also to the Most Powerful Women who pay it forward by leveraging their power around the world.

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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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