As we honor International Women’s Day on March 8, 2024, it’s crucial to correct a widespread misattribution of a renowned leadership quote often incorrectly credited to John Quincy Adams. This quote, in fact, originates from Dolly Parton, a towering figure in music, philanthropy, and leadership, marking a profound instance where a woman’s voice has been overshadowed in historical attribution. 

The quote in question, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” encapsulates the essence of true leadership and is rightfully attributed to Dolly Parton. This misattribution is not just a factual oversight but a symbolic misstep in recognizing women’s contributions to leadership and empowerment. As a father to two incredible daughters, I understand the importance of highlighting female leaders like Parton, who exemplify the pinnacle of achievement and leadership. 

Dolly Parton’s journey from a humble upbringing in Tennessee to becoming a country music legend is a testament to her unwavering determination and unparalleled talent. However, her ascent to stardom is merely one facet of her multifaceted persona. Beyond her musical achievements, Parton has carved out a legacy as a philanthropist, businesswoman, and advocate for education, embodying the essence of leadership in every sphere she touches. 

At the heart of Parton’s leadership style is her profound empathy and genuine desire to uplift those around her. Her philanthropic endeavors, particularly through the Dollywood Foundation, have made significant impacts on literacy, education, and disaster relief. The Imagination Library, one of her most notable initiatives, has gifted over 100 million books to children across the globe, fostering a love for reading and learning in underserved communities. This program not only highlights Parton’s commitment to education but also her belief in the transformative power of storytelling. 

Parton’s leadership extends into her business ventures as well. Dollywood, her theme park in Tennessee, is not only a major tourist attraction but also a significant source of employment for the local community. Her ability to seamlessly blend business acumen with a deep-seated commitment to her roots showcases a leader who values economic development as much as community well-being. 

Perhaps one of the most compelling aspects of Dolly Parton’s leadership is her unwavering authenticity. In an industry often criticized for its superficiality, Parton has remained true to herself and her values, using her platform to advocate for inclusivity and diversity. Her stance on various social issues, coupled with her philanthropic efforts, underscores a leadership style that is inclusive, compassionate, and forward-thinking. 

Moreover, Parton’s ability to inspire and connect with people from all walks of life is a hallmark of her leadership. Her music, which transcends genres and generations, speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and resilience, forging a deep and enduring connection with her audience. Through her artistry and public persona, Parton has become a symbol of strength and perseverance, encouraging women to embrace their individuality and to support one another. 

In conclusion, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, Dolly Parton’s legacy serves as a powerful reminder of the impact that one woman can have on the world. Through her groundbreaking contributions to music, philanthropy, and beyond, Parton has not only shattered glass ceilings but also paved the way for future generations of female leaders. Her life’s work exemplifies the essence of female empowerment, making her a fitting inspiration for a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements and potential of women everywhere. In the spirit of Dolly Parton, let us continue to champion the values of compassion, resilience, and inclusivity, forging a brighter future for all. 

Shane Sullivan, CEO

Solid Security | Technology