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Former CEO of Planned Parenthood Teaches Us These 2 Meaningful Leadership Lessons

As the Trump Administration continues to pull funding, Cecile Richards responds by leading her constituents.

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BY Alyssa Satara - 22 May 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images


Planned Parenthood has been frequently making headlines since Trump came into office, as has their CEO who has recently stepped down from the position. This is especially true this month after Iowa's Republican governor implemented the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. And with the Trump Administration pushing a plan to fully cut funding from Title X--a federal program that administers funding for family planning and preventative health services across the nation.

No matter where you stand on the political and social issues surrounding this planned parenthood and the Trump administration, their former CEO's, Cecile Richards, response to these proposals has been a been an incredible lesson in leadership.

As entrepreneurs', CEOs and leaders you are constantly going to be challenged. Board members, competition, and even peers can begin to become real obstacles. In the face of that, it's important that you continue to be a strong leader. Here two key takeaways you can learn from Cecile Richards:

1. Stay true to your mission, even if you're being doubted.

Good entrepreneurs and leaders solve for major pain points in society. Whether it's ride-sharing, internet accessibility or healthcare services the companies--and the people--who make a lasting difference are once who provide real solutions to issues.

This means providing solutions that cut to the root of the problem you are trying to solve for it--not just when it's the easy thing to do. You need to do this when things aren't going in your favor just a much, if not more, than when things are.

Sometimes, that means building platforms and expanding on ideas that are "ahead of their time".

When challenged with this good leaders can't just give up and switch to the next trend. You need to believe in their work and this means doubling down on your mission.

In a 2017 interview with Marie Claire, Richards did this when she said,


"...until we have more people in Congress who have had to deal with a lump in their breast and are worried about, 'Can I find an affordable provider that can see me now?' things are not going to change."

When challenged by prominent political leaders, Richards doesn't bend and cater to his values. She goes all in on her beliefs and does so in a way the empowers her peers to be a part of the change she wants to see in the world.

Notably, Tesla Motors followed this tried and tested rule when starting out. Telsa's mission was to be the world's first electric sports car, but it didn't see a profitable quarter until ten years after it launched. Instead of caving, cutting corners or fully giving up, they continued to stay true to their principles and created a revolutionary car brand.

2. Don't leverage your audience (or customers base) for funding.

Entrepreneurs are constantly put in tough scenarios, sometimes this means choosing between essential funds and your customers best interest. It seems somewhat natural to prioritize funding, especially when it could mean you either sink or swim.

Even so, good leaders put their audience first.

Now more than ever a customer-centric business model is essential. According to TechCrunch, Medallia's CEO Borge Hald believes that companies need to adapt and start putting their customers put the customer at the center of everything they do. He said that:

"What we see happening is, customer-centric companies who don't just get marketing right, but get delivery right will inherit earth and those who can't execute and be accountable to customers will have a hard time surviving."

Cecile Richards demonstrated this imperative leadership quality when speaking to Ivanka and Jared Kushner.

This past April Richards was interviewed on CCN about their meeting. There she explained that:

"It was pretty clear that at least what was in Jared's mind, was that if we would just simply quit providing safe and legal abortion to women in this country, that he would talk to Paul Ryan about getting us money, or perhaps more money and I just said: look, we are not going to trade away women's rights in this country for money."

Although she was being offered help and needed funding to her organization, Richards stood by her constituents and stayed true to Planned Parenthoods mission. Good leaders need to think about the big picture, not just the immediate gains.


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