The new public protector says she will leave the dispute over the state capture report prepared by h.
In a speech prepared for delivery at a women's leadership conference in Cape Town, she said the lessons were on how to lead with courage and integrity.
Madonsela said leading examples were the lives of anti-apartheid activists Victoria Mxenge, Helen Joseph, and Helen Suzman.
She said she had learnt from these and other women to walk the road less travelled.
"They knew very well that theirs and the fate of the equally oppressed men were interconnected," she said.
"With this in mind, they boldly assumed those leadership roles to their full potential."
Many had disagreed with the government of the day when it was perilous to do so and did what was right while ignoring the risks.
"These leaders were not afraid to put their heads above the parapet. They would not shy away from making unpopular views and decisions," she said.
"All that mattered to them was for what they said and did to be the right thing."
Madonsela said women today did not have to pay such a high price for leading.
Leadership was now about running companies ethically without maladministration, corruption, or malfeasance.
It was also about holding government to account at all times.