Buffy Summers, the one and only Vampire Slayer, is pretty much my all time favorite female protagonist of anything I’ve seen on TV. While not a perfect character (and would you really want a perfect character? How boring would that be…), she constantly finds herself in situations that require leadership, action, and awareness.
In Season 5, Episode 12, “Checkpoint,” she finds herself in an uncomfortable predicament; the Watcher’s Council (aka the governing body for Slayers) has come back to Sunnydale because they have information on Glory (the Big Bad of Season Five) but first, she has to go through an internal review to see if she’s up to their standards. At the end of the episode Buffy gives an excellent speech about power and how she isn’t going to follow their rules; it is one of her greatest speeches in its sheer honesty and insight. In the speech she exhibits intuition, bravery, initiative, and influence - for knowing what the Council’s real objectives were, for standing up to them, for defending her need for her friends, and for actually getting her way.
Also, the part where she throws a sword at Nigel is pretty badass.
See a transcript of her speech below, modified with some of the external dialogue excluded; the bolded parts are, in my opinion, the most pertinent to her style of leadership.
Buffy: There isn’t gonna be a review. […] No review. No interrogation. No questions you know I can’t answer. No hoops. No jumps. […] No interruptions. See, I’ve had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I’ve finally figured out why. Power. I have it. They don’t. This bothers them. Glory came to my home today. […] Just to talk. She told me I’m a bug, I’m a flea, she could squash me in a second. Only she didn’t. She came into my home, and we talked. We had what in her warped brain probably passes for a civilized conversation. Why? Because she needs something from me. Because I have power over her. You guys didn’t come all the way from England to determine whether I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives, some semblance of meaning.
Nigel: This is beyond insolence— (Buffy hurls the sword at him, which he must jump aside to avoid.)
Buffy: I’m fairly certain I said no interruptions. […] You’re Watchers. Without a Slayer… you’re pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theater. You can’t stop Glory. You can’t do anything with the information you have, except maybe publish it in the Everyone Thinks We’re Insanos Home Journal. So here’s how it’s gonna work. You’re gonna tell me everything you know. Then you’re gonna go away. You’ll contact me if and when you have any further information about Glory. The magic shop will remain open. Mr. Giles will stay here as my official Watcher, reinstated at full salary [t]o be paid retroactively from the month he was fired. I will continue my work with the help of my friends—[…] two very powerful witches and a thousand-year-old ex-demon. […] “The boy” has clocked more field time than all of you combined. He’s part of the unit. […] Now. You all may be very good at your jobs. The only way we’re gonna find out is if you work with me. You can all take your time thinking about that. But I want an answer right now from Quentin. ‘Cause I think he’s understanding me.
Quentin (after a pause): Your terms are acceptable.
(The gang, watching from above, breaks into cheers and applause.)
Buffy: See? No begging.