The question of “What makes a good leader?” has been a question that has answers that spread as wide a spectrum as the professional industries that rely on strong leaders.
Ted Talks have emerged in recent years as a key driver to promote thought-provoking concepts in professional development and self-help. Leaders from all backgrounds and professionals have turned to Ted to provide actionable insights and inspiration to apply to their organizations. There are thousands of interesting Talks on Ted.com and dozens solely on the category of Leadership, so I went through and narrowed down the three videos I believe are essential during your course of leadership development and help answer the question, “What makes a good leader?”.
Fields Wicker Miurin’s “Learning From Leadership’s Missing Manual”
What can an athletics leader learn from the rain forests of Brazil? How does one tribal leader’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability apply to America’s college athletics field? In this Ted Talk from 2009, Fields Wicker Miurin, is a social anthropologist and entrepreneur, shares stories from meeting with a Brazilian indigenous tribal leader from the Amazon who went through persistent education and actions to fight against the deforestation of their ancient lands. One of the greatest takeaways from this talk lies in the title and the theme through the speech, that there is no one step-by-step manual in how to be a leader. Anyone can be a successful leader if they have the three things Wicker Miurin identifies; drive, passion, and commitment.
Simon Sinek’s “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe”
Wagon trains. Fox holes. Medieval fortresses. These disparate social and cultural insinuations all have a common attribute: when threatened, they find safety and security in a circle. In this 2014 talk, Sinek explores how the feelings, Trust and Cooperation, are key for leaders to instill in their colleagues and employees. Sinek explains that ever since the beginning of civilization, humans have best survived when banding together and having a tribe to collaborate against external threats. These basic concepts apply to how organizations should operate, having a “Circle of Safety” that creates an environment that promotes Trust and Cooperation that will enable co-workers to feel a sense of service to each other. Good leaders can build that safe-feeling environment that encourages employees to look out for each other and, in result, makes the group as a whole stronger and better functioning.
David Pink’s “The Puzzle of Motivation”
It is no secret that athletics is a high-pressure, high-demand competitive field where many employees, including event and marketing staffs in particular, might work seven days a week. It Is not unique to find a Fall weekend where football, soccer, and volleyball all have home-stints and it’s an all-hands-on-deck type weekend. So how do we avoid employee burnout and turnover? This top-20 All-Time Most Popular Ted Talks, “The Puzzle of Motivation” has David Pink presenting research-backed concepts of how best to motivate employees and to avoid burnout. In an eye-opening talk, Pink proves that performance-based incentives such as bonuses or rewards paradoxically quell employee production and dull critical thinking instead of motivating them. Instead of the “carrot and a stick” approach, Pink recommends managers to offer intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic by placing more value on the working relationships and developing the individuals. The three main drivers for individuals to be motivated at their job, according to Pink, is when they feel their position allows them to have a sense of “Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose” in their role.
These are just a few excellent videos on Ted Talks that cover the field of leadership. If you are interested in further material I encourage you to explore our site for more resources on how to become a more effective leader.
Feel free to share with us your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
Extra TedTalks to watch:
Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and Dan Ariely’s “What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?”.