Great leadership doesn't happen by accident. Whether you head up a start up or a mega global corporation, sometimes the corner office needs a fresh perspective on the power we have to control how we lead. If you're finding yourself caught up in the day-to-day, check out these TED talks that reveal the science behind different leadership styles that trickle down into how your entire organization is run:
In this popular TED Talk, Simon Sinek asks, "Why is Apple so innovative, why did MLK Jr. lead the civil rights movement, and how did the Wright brothers beat those with more resources to become the first in flight?"
Sinek evaluates patterns in how these leaders think, act, and communicate--and he finds that it's pretty much the opposite of everyone else. While most people and organizations lead with what they do or make, these visionaries first look at why they do what they do and why what they do matters.They start with their purpose, not the product. In what he calls the "Golden Circle," Sinek identifies how great leaders "start with why" and then move on to the how and what of a product, service, or argument.
In a work rut? Shawn Achor's TED Talk is for you. According to his research, 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the external world, not the external world itself.
It's all about an idea called positive psychology. From his talk: "We're finding it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And, if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time."
How do we put positive psychology into action? Reverse the typical formula for happiness and success. Most say that if you work harder, you'll find more success and, therefore, greater happiness. Yet that's scientifically broken and backward. Raise levels of positivity in the present, and your brain performs better. Energy levels, creativity, intelligence, and all business outcomes improve when you start with a focus on happiness.
Responsible for managing or motivating a team? Wish there were a secret formula for getting the best work out of that team and helping them stay positive and excited about it? In his TED Talk, behavioral economist Dan Ariely dives into the question, "What motivates us to work?"
Two big tips stand out. First, someone who puts a lot of hard work into a project is likely to feel more connected to its outcome. Just like the IKEA or Betty Crocker effect: When you're more involved in the process, you are more vested in results. And secondly, it's vital to always recognize your team's efforts. Even if, in the end, you change a project's direction, acknowledging your team's contribution will boost their confidence and renewed excitement for the next project.
"The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader." Sure, Derek Sivers' comment got a few chuckles from the audience, but in this short-and-sweet TED Talk, Sivers discusses one of the unspoken rules of leadership: You need (at least) a follower. And true courage, he explains, is in not being the leader but in being that first follower who believes in the movement so much he has the courage to join in and transform the "lone nut" into a leader. Another key takeaway: Leaders need to nurture their first followers as equals. It's this treatment that motivates them to stick around and attracts more to the movement. As I like to say, great leaders focus on creating more leaders.
What philosophy influences how you like to lead? Please share any inspiring talks or articles on the topic I might have missed.