5 TED Talks to Inspire Leadership
There are several common themes that run through some of the most popular TED talks on leadership- and by leadership speakers. There is an appeal to consider something greater than ourselves as the guiding light for change. We are reminded that a leader is only as great as the people he leads- or the people he follows. And, great leadership evolves from the inside out. We’ve selected a few of our favorite TED Talks that best exemplify these themes.
Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He is also one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers and comes in second on the list of five most-viewed TED talks in the leadership category. Zander states in his TED talk that he had an epiphany of sorts: “The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. My picture appears on the front of the CD…He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.”
“I realized my job was to awaken the possibility in other people.”
The only person to have more views than Zander in the leadership category of TED talks is Simon Sinek. His “golden circle” concept popularized by the more than 23 million views of his TED talk asks, “What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?” Both Sinek and Zander explain that leadership is partially defined by the strength in believing: those around you (your team) believe in what you believe and you, as a leader, believe that they can help actualize the dreams and goals you have shared with them.
“We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.”
Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability made her one of the most sought-after speakers in the country. She shares in her follow-up TED talk on shame that when offered speaking engagements following her “TED explosion,” she was asked, ironically, to not speak on the very topics that created her in-demand status: vulnerability and shame. Companies asked her to focus on “innovation, creativity and change.” Brown, understanding that great leadership emanates from the inside out, responded:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Entrepreneur and innovator Dr. Daniel Kraft explores how emerging technologies impact biomedicine and healthcare. After training at both Stanford and Harvard medical schools, he has spent the past twenty years working in the areas of “clinical practice, biomedical research and healthcare innovation.” Dr. Kraft has often discussed the correlation that exists between better technology and better patient care, fostering an environment that allows for better relationships between doctors and patients. If it is indeed true that a patient is to follow the doctor’s orders, then the doctor is only as great as the patients he leads.
“And I think some of these technologies will enable us to be more connected with our patients, and take more time and actually do the important human touch elements of medicine.”
Bestselling author and recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards at Harvard University, Shawn Achor is often called upon to speak on the subject of positive leadership. He is best known for researching and teaching how happiness directly impacts leadership: it is not the external that most affects business-related outcomes, it is the internal. It is also a leader’s ability to create a supportive environment that lends to both individual and collective success.
“What we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels [and] your social support.”