Since we have reached the seventh billion person milestone, the understanding of leadership is being transformed. Leaders nowadays should not necessarily rule a country, organize a revolution or be a missionary. It is defined by the ability to make influence on a wider range of people and empower better changes in the world.
Oprah Winfrey once said:”My philosophy is that not only you are responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment”. Being born and raised in a poor family, Oprah is one of the greatest self-made billionaires in the world. By any definition of the word, Oprah is a leader, someone who guides or inspires others.
Her “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that was launched in 1986, lasted for 25 years, and in its best time captured attention of 14 billion viewers per day. In 2007 Oprah was ranked number one celebrity by Forbes and she remains to be one of the most influential people in the world.
Through her show, Oprah spread words of wisdom to millions of people and inspired them to change their lives to better.
One of her greatest leadership lessons is about being strong. Besides having hard times in her childhood, Oprah was a victim of sexual abuse in teenage years. Those challenges shaped her character and made resilient. A real leader should resist pain and cherish enthusiasm for future beginnings.
Oprah really likes what she does and it is visible. It is important to find a purpose, a passion in life and follow it. In her shows, among others, she raised such issues as poverty, racism, HIV/AIDS, personal stories of successes and failures. Two of important aspects of her leadership are commitment to acting and humanity. Oprah’s wish to support democracy in the US greatly contributed financially to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. When Winfrey decided to help the children in Africa, she spoke about it, and in a short time many American women decided to donate and volunteer to help. Leading from the heart, based on emotions and on personal experience broke the limits of ordinary and built up a strong brand of Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful people in the world. In 1998 she created a charity fund that supported charitable projects all over the world. Before dissolving in 2010, this fund collected funds to provide a relief after the hurricane Katrina.
As a leader, person needs to praise own followers. Oprah’s kind attitude and understanding, regular gifts to audience and moral support acquired her even more fans. It has been achieved also by sharing a personal story. People have necessity to be connected with a leader and trust him. Through her life Oprah experienced poverty, assaults, racism; she was involved in drugs and had taken many wrong decisions. Thus, she can reach people who suffered from the same and lead them through changes.
Oprah’s life is a lesson of following dreams. In order to be a great leader, you need to be a great person.
In her success story Oprah had everything, from childhood tears to failed projects. She has become much more than she was, nurturing excellence and taking her dreams to the next level. Oprah cultivated her leadership brand by practicing what she preached and understanding her followers. She often became the first explorer of issues and the first volunteer to support. Even though she decided to close her show, Oprah is still making considerable impact on readers of her magazine and online blog. She knew she was destined for greatness, but who would have thought that this greatness would change lives of hundreds millions people.
1. Baldoni John, Oprah Winfrey and Your Leadership Brand, < http://blogs.hbr.org> Web. 25 Nov 2009.
2. Jayanta K. Nanda, Leadership thought, New Delhi, Sarup & Sons, 2006(p. 280-281)
3. Official website about Oprah Winfrey,