A leader is a person who has the competency to unite people to work towards a common objective. Anyone can command other people on what to do, but the distinction between a proficient leader and one who is not is the efficiency of their leadership. Effective leadership calls for more than the authority and ability to assign tasks to a team. There is plenty of literature about what it truly takes to be a leader. For example, Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general described a leader as one who inculcated moral law and lived by proper manners and order. Historian, Thomas Carlyle stated that leaders are born with inherent leadership abilities, not trained to become leaders. Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, believed that leaders were an outcome of the societies in which they lived.
There is no precise definition of what leadership is, and opinions on leadership vary from person to person depending on the contextual scope. However, the common denominator of leadership is that a leader must be able to inspire their following. One such leader is Oprah Winfrey; a self-made wealthy woman with great influence on the media platform. She inspires healthy living, self-help, a reading culture, and philanthropy. The paper analyzes some of her leadership qualities and decision-making styles that are the foundation of her great success.
Oprah exhibits emotional stability as a leadership trait. Emotional stability is the exhibition of psychological maturity and a good adjustment to handle anything a leader is required to face. Oprah has not only successfully managed to create a thriving media powerhouse, but has also been consistent in it. It requires working with a large team of people who may not always have been in agreement with her. She has also managed to maintain a good reputation while at it. Consistency in character and business principles requires a sense of conscientiousness. It involves a high standard of excellence and a desire to deliver nothing but the best. From her difficult upbringing to her success, Oprah exudes perfection in her occupation because she built her accomplishments on hard work.
To be in the public limelight on an international platform exposes one to scrutiny and in effect to the risk of harsh judgment and criticism. In the midst of all the bad press and criticism, Oprah has maintained her positive aggressiveness and thick skin by exhibiting the trait of social boldness. She has faced a lot of criticism regarding her leadership school for girls in South Africa due to the alleged opulence and comfort that characterizes the facility. Critics argued that the school would turn its students into materialistic and entitled adults. She has also faced numerous criticisms about her grandeur lifestyle.
Decision theory concerns decisions. There are several ways in which decisions can get theorized which are accompanied by various research traditions. For this paper, the normative decision theory will be emphasized upon in accordance with Oprah’s decision-making style. Normative decision theory is a theory concerning how decisions should be made based on reason. In most cases, normative decisions are taken when there is an absence of adequate information regarding the subject of a decision.
In her talk shows, Oprah Winfrey portrayed women as having similar social and emotional traits; for instance, communication skills. Hence, her shows were created by that decision. The normative decision theory in this instance is that there was insufficient information about women’s individual methods of emotional and social interactions as they are not all the same. Therefore, a general approach to women’s interaction with their experiences was considered the best decision that would resonate with all women viewers.
Oprah’s show on feminism was mainly committed to empowering women. It showed women’s educational, social and economic development. It displayed women identifying a variety of social and personal choices as open to them and deciding among which of these choices to select. Nonetheless, the talk show’s depiction of empowerment assumed a universal premise between women that allowed the illustrations to make the female gender their simple focus.
Before fame and money, Oprah is a leader first. She has significant influence on how and what people, especially women, eat, read and how they live. Her endorsement of a reading culture got sparked by the online book club she started in 2006. It is also through her grit, persistence, and determination that she was able to amass colossal wealth worth billions and a faithful following. On the contrary, she does not wield power and influence overtly, and if she does, she does it tactfully. These are the traits of an authentic and transformational leader.
Authentic and transformational leaders bequeath their power and talent, deliver service and share their know-how with people; they get so empowered that they do not recognize the ‘force’ behind the empowerment. Transformational leadership is about uplifting others, and Oprah has successfully achieved that. She has elegantly owned her power, sold her influence and demonstrated her credibility flawlessly.
Oprah did not take her audience for granted when she hosted her talk show. She was aware that the audience was her consumer and without her audience, her success was unattainable. She often included her audience in her content, which communicated to her audience that she was listening to them. She infamously demonstrated her appreciation to her audience by giving them gifts. For example, she had a segment known as ‘Oprah’s Big Five’ where she freely gave her favorite things to her audience, so they benefited as much as she did from these things. Her leadership style shows that she values people’s well-being socially, economically and physically.
Oprah Winfrey is the quintessence of leading by example. She concentrates on constant self-improvement which translates to how people choose to live their lives. Although she offers advice to others during challenging times, her character to always seek to improve personally and professionally are what make her advice authentic. She teaches that impacting the world begins by improving the self.