10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work

Maison Piedfort

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work

Does watching TV count as work if you’re doing it to brush up on your managerial skills?

Sure it does. We’ll just clock it in as “research time”. Here are 10 more reasons to indulge in some good TV (as if you needed another reason).

Get in your PJs, turn on the TV, and get ready to learn about female leadership from TV’s best leading ladies.


1. Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder

annalise is a top female leader
Annalise being fierce as usual. From ABC.


Whether you’re studying criminal law or about to be convicted for murder, professor and defense attorney Annalise is the bombshell you want on your side.

She’s smart, self-possessed, and isn’t here to take nonsense from anyone. Not her students, not her clients, and not even her husband. Sure, her character develops into a more emotional, more vulnerable woman along the way, but she never lets it show in the workplace and never lets it get in the way of her work.


How to be more like Annalise

She’s charismatic as all hell—a skill you can actually brush up on and learn to use more in the office. A quiet, strong-willed confidence is key to being as respected and powerful as Philadelphia’s boss-est defense attorney.


2. Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
Worthy of the name Khaleesi, no doubt. Image from Home Box Office, Inc.


While youth and naiveté are no doubt some of Daenerys’s weaknesses, her unshakable will to always put her people first makes her one of the best leaders in Game of Thrones. With the face of a cherub, she’s caring, she’s passionate, and always acts on the best of intentions.

But her restless pursuit of punishing those she feels deserves it (slave owners, mostly) reminds us that she’s not to be messed with. If you’re in her circle and you’re loyal, sure, she’ll protect you—but if you cross her? She might just unleash the dragons on you.


How to be more like Daenerys

Put your people first, always.

And don’t forget: you can be young and inexperienced and still rule with an iron fist—all you have to do is listen to your trusted advisors. Heed the advice of those who’ve gone before you. Then own whatever decision you choose.


3. Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
PARKS AND RECREATION — “Filibuster” Episode 605 — Pictured: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)


What can we even say about the sweetest, silliest, most passionate lady boss on TV? How does someone so energetic and optimistic—who is essentially the human form of a golden retriever—garner so much respect from her colleagues?

Leslie teaches us that—although we love badass women like Robin from How I Met Your Mother and Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine Nine—you can be bubbly, feminine, caring, and whatever else you want to be—and still be an amazing and well-respected female leader.

You don’t have to shun your more feminine traits to be a successful woman in power, and you certainly don’t ever have to give up loving waffles.


How to be more like Leslie

Embrace your personality, femininity and all. Use it to make real, powerful allies at work, just like Leslie does (Except she would probably call them “friends”.).

But remember: Leslie never lets her friendships get in the way of making the right decision and won’t stray from her moral compass for anything.


4. Lisa Cuddy from House

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
Is there anything more inspiring than a powerful woman in a lab coat? From Fox.


Dean of Medicine Dr. Lisa Cuddy is almost always in a tight spot at Princeton-Plainsboro, handling being caught in the crossfire between boardroom members and clinicians with compassion and grace.

She’s an empathetic leader who truly listens and never loses touch with her moral compass. She’ll argue for her beliefs, put out fires, and deal with unruly medical staff (ahem, Dr. House) all at the same time.


How to be more like Lisa

She’s logical and risk-averse, yet somehow still manages to give her employees the space to take (often rewarding) risks that she wouldn’t necessarily take herself. If you want to be more like Lisa in the workplace, focus on logic and trust, and brush up on your listening skills.


5. Liz Lemon from 30 Rock

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
Her Princess Leia-inspired plot against jury duty: just one reason Liz is to be loved and respected. From NBC.


If we should be taking any lessons from Liz Lemon, honestly it should just be on being a better human. Who else is better at making staying at home and eating lots of food top priorities?

But she shines in the workplace, too. As a matter of fact, she may shine a little too much in the workplace, not quite learning how to make building a family a priority until the latter seasons. But we love her work ethic and her willingness to stay at the office however long it takes to get the job done.

She’s also a pro at keeping a casual work environment, which usually works well for her and her TGS writers.


How to be more like Liz

Liz embraces Jack’s mentorship, making her openness to guidance a great trait aspire to in the office. She’s also great at mediating among her employees, an invaluable skill for any boss leader.


6. Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
A skilled doctor with the sense of style of a Vogue magazine editor. Photo by FOX via Getty Images.


Because being a super smart, successful and well-respected doctor and being cute as all hell aren’t mutually exclusive.

Our favorite Dr. L traits? Well, it’s hard to narrow them down, but here’s a few: she tells it like it is (even if that means having a difficult conversation), she makes an effort to get to know her colleagues outside of work, she isn’t afraid to make fun of herself—and yet, all at the same time, she takes her job incredibly seriously. And she never, ever shies away from her theatrical and feminine sides. We love her for that.

What other lady boss do you know can obsess over what to wear for a first date and then—in the middle of said date—leave to go heroically deliver an insurance-less mother’s baby? Dr. L, everyone.


How to be more like Mindy

Do the right thing, of course. While Mindy sometimes initially picks the wrong side of a moral dilemma, she always makes things right by the end of the show.

Have difficult conversations, something Mindy’s a pro at. Solicit input from those around you in the workplace. And don’t let your sense of professionalism eclipse your personality, especially if that personality is as bubbly and feminine as Mindy’s.


7. Miranda Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
Dr. Bailey and a rare smile. Image via ABC/Bob D’Amico.


Here’s Dr. Bailey’s famous first rule for her interns: “Don’t bother sucking up. I already hate you, that’s not gonna change.”

Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? While a humbling introduction like this is necessary for often-complacent doctors fresh out of medical school—and while we don’t recommend telling your coworkers you hate them upon meeting them—it makes an important point about Dr. Bailey: she has no time for brown-nosing.

She doesn’t care about office politics or whether or not you like her. What she does care about? Whether or not her employees do the best job they can. And that’s just one of the reasons we love her as an inspiring lady boss.


How to be more like Miranda

Make it clear that you expect the best from your colleagues, just like Miranda. And then be an example for them to follow.

But more importantly? Put family first, something Miranda finally learns to do towards the latter seasons of Grey’s. It’s what fuels her powerfully passionate leadership style.


8. Olivia Pope from Scandal

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
If you’ve got a PR nightmare that needs handling, you know who to call. From ABC. Image by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty images.


Minus the whole, you know, having a love affair with the leader of the free world part—Olivia Pope is one impeccable female leader.

Olivia’s professional world runs on loyalty, and if you prove yours to her, she’ll risk her life to protect you. That’s what her “gladiators in suits” love about her, and they’ll even return the favor by risking their lives for her.

While we’re not saying you should risk your life for your colleagues or pursue extramarital affairs with high-ranking officials, you’d do well to take a few pages from Olivia’s book. She’s confident in her ability to put out fires and trusts her employees enough to let them make big decisions.


How to be more like Olivia

Get comfortable delegating important tasks to employees. It’ll free up your own time and instill a sense of trust and autonomy in those who work with you.

Another great thing about Olivia? No matter what, she finds a way. No scandal is too much for Olivia and her team to fix. This can-do attitude is what makes Olivia so great. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your crisis management skills so you’ll be ready for anything, just like Olivia.


9. Joan Holloway from Mad Men

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
A classic secretary-to-partner story. Wait—is that a thing? From AMC.


This particular lady boss starts out as queen of the secretaries, but eventually rises to the top. She’s bold, sassy, and won’t take any flak.

Joan has been through hell and back, overcoming hurdles including sexual assault, being left as a single mother, and having to learn how to fight back in a sexist workplace environment.

Despite all this, she rises above to become a managing partner at a powerful NYC ad agency. Can someone say badass alert?


How to be more like Joan

Joan is very protective of the private affairs of her colleagues, instilling trust and loyalties in those she works for and with. Use discretion at work when engaging in office gossip; keep it classy, just like Joan.

If you want to be more like Joan in the workplace, professionalism is key. Along with a healthy level of organization and not being afraid to voice your opinions to the higher-ups.


 10. Wilhelmina Slater from Ugly Betty

10 Female Leaders from TV You Should Emulate at Work
When it comes to being a passionate female leader and a good dresser, it doesn’t get any fiercer. From ABC.


Wilhelmina knows what she wants, knows she’s good at her job, and won’t let popular opinion of her get in the way. In one word, she’s ruthless.

She’s controversial because of her ruthlessness, but when you get down to it she really does care about her employees. She’s tough to work for, but those who make honesty and loyalty their priorities will thrive under her leadership.


How to be more like Wilhelmina

We won’t lie, there are probably some ways you shouldn’t be more like Wilhelmina. But she’s got plenty of character traits you should want to emulate, like confidence, drive, and a no-nonsense attitude.


Watch and Learn

Don’t let anyone tell you TV is a waste of time.

Because when you watch TV shows with women like these, you learn how to become the strongest version of yourself you can be. You learn how to be a leader. You learn how to be strong, successful, and beautiful, all at the same time. (And—for heaven’s and Liz Lemon’s sake—you learn not to take yourself too seriously.)

Because if these women have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to choose. That you don’t have to give up your idea of femininity to be one boss lady.

So how ‘bout it: are you down to put in some overtime this weekend? And by “overtime”, we mean clocking in some serious hours on Netflix, of course.


Who’s your favorite lady boss? Let us know in the comments below!


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