TIME’s take on Powerful Women

November 22, 2010, 10:12 PM UTC

by Patricia Sellers

This week, TIME Magazine presents the 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century.

Interesting that TIME, Fortune‘s sister magazine at Time Inc. , includes just two businesswomen on its list. Both — Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey — are entrepreneurs. Since her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia , is struggling these days, Martha didn’t make this year’s Fortune Most Powerful Women list. Oprah, whose power keeps expanding and who is about to launch her own TV network in partnership with Discovery Communications , rank’s No. 6 on the 2010 Fortune list.

One thing Oprah has taught us is that success in business is pretty basic. Pick your passion. Control your destiny. Follow your gut. Oprah drilled on the latter point when I talked with her for “Oprah’s Next Act,” last month’s cover story in Fortune. Oprah tells TIME as well: “Every right decision I’ve made has come from my gut. And every wrong decision I’ve ever made was a result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself. Feelings are really your GPS system for life.”

I love that — your GPS system for life. “When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something,” Oprah says, “your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.”

There’s a trove of career advice in TIME’s interviews with a dozen Fortune MPWomen, including Oracle’s Safra Catz, Wal-Mart’s Susan Chambers, JPMorgan Chase’s Heidi Miller, Google’s (GOOG) Susan Wojcicki, NBC Universal’s Lauren Zalaznick. (The latter two, incidentally, recently got promotions.) Another thing, besides gut, that guides these leaders: Good people sense and smarts about hiring.

Chanel Global CEO Maureen Chiquet tells TIME, “My worst decisions revolved around hiring the wrong people or even the right people at the wrong time. Often, the pressure of the business and fear of having an open position encourages us to hire people who are either not right for the job or not ready to take on the responsibility…You can’t rush the on-boarding process.”

Indeed, a business is as good as the people who run it and represent your brand. Speaking of great leaders and brand representatives, here I am on video talking about Oprah, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and some others who are on this year’s Fortune MPWomen list.