This report provides an analysis of leadership as one of the most important elements in the success of states, organisations, and societies. This analysis has been done by identifying two successful leaders who include Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey. The report illustrates their personal profile in the effort to illustrate their leadership capacity.
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To understand the concept of leadership, the report evaluates the leadership qualities that the two leaders have developed. Moreover, it also evaluates the leadership styles that have been adopted by the two leaders. Through the evaluation, Warren Buffet is identified as the most effective leader. In conclusion, the report recommends what the leaders can do to be successful and/or be able to deal with diverse issues that emerge from leadership positions.
Leadership refers to the ability of an individual to influence others towards attaining their goals. Any group of people, an organisation, or a country that has no proper leadership in place is prone to conflicts that arise between or among different individuals. The reason behind the conflicts rests on the fact that the organisation, for instance, has no one to steer the affected category towards a specific direction while taking care of the demands of the people he or she leads.
Therefore, a leader can be compared to a vehicle’s steering wheel without which the vehicle cannot follow a targeted route. How does one become a leader? Ricketts and Ricketts (2011) reveal that leadership is a learnt behaviour. Hence, anyone has the capacity to acquire leadership skills if he or she is committed to developing such skills. The authors observe that the main role of leaders is to serve. Thus, leaders play a critical role in the proper functioning of organisations, states, nations, and communities.
Leaders possess unique characteristics such as respect, responsibility, confidence, and poise. Many people envy these traits. Numerous leaders have emerged over the years. However, their level of success varies significantly. Blanchard and Miller (2012, p. 1) assert, “Some leaders soar above others”. This claim means that although two leaders may be leading under a similar capacity, it is very rare for the two leaders to demonstrate similar headship styles.
Subsequently, one can assert that the extent to which leaders are able to influence others is dependent on their personal growth. Considering the changing environment, leaders have an obligation to enhance their growth. Needle (2011) identifies poor leadership as one of the major reasons why some organisations have incurred substantial losses. Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey are ranked amongst the most successful leaders in the world. Their success is associated with a number of factors.
This report evaluates what has made Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey very successful in their leadership.
Warren Edward Buffet was born on 30th August 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska. He is a United States’ citizen. He has a Master of Science (MSc.) in economics from Lincoln Columbia Business School from Nebraska University. He is the chairperson and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffet has developed himself into an investor, philanthropist, and a business magnate. He is ranked amongst the greatest investors of the 21st century and amongst the wealthiest individuals in the world. Despite this enormous wealth, Warren Buffet is a strict adherent to personal frugality as one of his values. In 2012, the Times Magazine ranked Buffet amongst the most influential individuals in the world. Buffet supports different philanthropic courses through the Bill Gates Foundation.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on 29th January 1954 in Montecito, California. She is an American citizen. She is one of the most renowned media proprietors, producer, talks show host, and a philanthropist. Her talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ has won numerous awards over the years.
Besides, it is the highest-rated television programmes in the US. Oprah is one of the wealthiest African-American of the 21st century. She is the chairperson, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer of Oprah Winfrey Network. She is also the CEO and chair of Harpo Productions. In addition to being a businessperson, Oprah is also a philanthropist.
She is ranked the greatest black American philanthropists. Other assessments have also considered Winfrey one of the most influential individuals of the 21st century. In 2013, Barack Obama, the US President, awarded Oprah the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Harvard University also awarded Oprah an honorary doctorate degree.
Warren Buffet has demonstrated a number of leadership qualities. Some of these qualities are evaluated herein.
Effective communication is a critical component in one’s quest to position himself or herself as a leader. According to Siraj-Blatchford and Manni (2010), communication is both multi-directional and multi-functional.
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This characteristic arises from the fact that it entails a number of aspects, which include speaking, interpreting, listening, consulting, reflecting, summarising, debating, verifying, acknowledging, and translating. Leaders who possess adequate communication skills are able to integrate a sense of vision, consistency, and ethos amongst their followers.
Warren Buffet has developed adequate communication skills. He is cognisant of the importance of selecting the right place and time in order to communicate to the targeted parties. Moreover, Buffet appreciates the importance of understanding the people that he intends to reach before the actual communication. Subsequently, he listens to the target stakeholders, which improve his ability to communicate the intended message.
According to Roberts and Hanna (2012), humility is an important leadership attribute because it authenticates humanity. However, many leaders often overlook it. If one intends to be an effective leader, he or she must be humble. Humility comprises a number of aspects, which include compassion, concern, sincerity, patience, and being ‘down to earth’.
Previous studies show that humble leaders depict a sense of modesty and restraint. Moreover, a humble individual appreciates the fact that human beings are not perfect but rather frail creatures. In line with this position, Buffet acknowledges that individuals have weaknesses and strengths.
Buffet’s humility is evidenced by his philanthropic tendencies, which are aimed at improving the wellbeing of the less fortunate people in the society.
For example, in 2006, he donated $1.5 billion to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the years, Buffet has consistently emphasised the value of sharing the wealth in improving the society’s welfare. In addition to the above, Buffet is very caring and loving. He is detail-oriented and committed towards ensuring that other people feel important to him despite their personal or professional background.
According to Goudreau (2010), foresight is a major element that has contributed towards Buffet’s success as a leader. Over the years, he has held different positions that have enabled him garner sufficient knowledge and experience on different issues. He is able to apply the knowledge gained in dealing with diverse issues.
Moreover, Buffet is able to apply the lessons learned in predicting the future. His foresight characteristic is evidenced by the fact that he has become one of the most successful investors of the 21st century. His foresight quality has made Buffet one of the most sought advisors on financial and economic matters.
Leading by Example
According to Llopis (2013), leading by example is not as simple as it sounds. Subsequently, only few leaders adhere to this value. However, successful leaders tend to practice what they advocate.
Moreover, they are keen on their actions because they recognise the fact that they are being watched by many people. His capability to lead by example is illustrated by his commitment in honouring the pledges that he has made to various philanthropic foundations. In addition to money, Buffet also sacrifices a substantial amount of his time in assisting individuals who have trouble.
Successful leaders are very effective in motivating others. Nelson and Quick (2011) define motivation as the process of stirring and maintaining goal-directed behaviour amongst followers. Warren’s leadership characteristic as a motivator is illustrated by the fact that he listens and respects the contribution of his juniors. For example, he respects the opinion of his managers regarding the operation of his business.
He depicts a high level of trust and forgiveness to his followers. Furthermore, his ability to motivate others is evidenced by the fact that he delegates tasks to other individuals as a way of giving them a sense of responsibility. Delegation gives other employees an opportunity to progress in their career. Moreover, Buffet is cognisant of the significance of teamwork. Subsequently, he loves to interact and discuss with others on different issues.
Businesses cannot rule out the possibility of an economic recession. The likelihood of businesses to survive during such periods is dependent on management’s ability to invest the company’s funds. Subsequently, it is imperative for business leaders to be conscious of the importance of saving.
Buffet has demonstrated high levels of frugality with regard to saving. Thus, he has developed sufficient money saving skills. This strategy has played a critical role in his success as a leader. Moreover, his frugality has significantly enhanced the level of respect from his followers.
Leadership Qualities of Oprah Winfrey
Similar to Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey’s success as one of the most influential people in the world has arisen from a number of leadership qualities. Below is an analysis of some of the qualities that have made Oprah a successful leader.
Previous studies have linked leadership success to emotional intelligence. In the course of executing their duties, leaders encounter different emotional situations that might affect their performance. Emotional intelligence plays a critical role in improving an individual’s communication skills because one develops a high level of self-awareness, hence improving his or her ability to monitor his or her feelings.
Moreover, emotional awareness contributes to a high level of social awareness, which is a critical element in developing sufficient mediation skills. Oprah Winfrey has a high level of emotional intelligence, which is evidenced by her awareness on her personal vision. Subsequently, she has attained high levels of success.
Winfrey appreciates the importance of teamwork. As a result, she motivates her followers using a simple strategy, which entails investing in top talents. Oprah is committed towards motivating her followers using her TV talk show. For example, she invites renowned and successful personalities to mentor her followers.
Moreover, she values the relationship that she has developed with other people. Moreover, she has surrounded herself with the most influential and successful individuals. Oprah does not discriminate individuals based on any variable. On the contrary, she interacts with individuals of all occupations. Moreover, she empathises with people who have different needs in the society.
Leading by Example
Oprah is committed towards becoming the best that the can be in society. Subsequently, she invests a lot of time towards improving her success. Oprah advises her followers on how they can deal with hard times in order to be successful both personally and professionally.
Oprah has developed herself into a caring and empathetic person, as evidenced by her focus on justice and humanitarian issues. Over the years, Oprah has aired her voice on different issues affecting the society. In fact, her commitment led to the formulation of the National Child Protection Act of 1991 in the US. Moreover, the commitment to transform the lives of other individuals is also evidenced by the establishment of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
Comparison of Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Styles
A comparison of leadership styles is important in determining whether there is any need to abandon or strengthen the styles for the benefit of those who are led. A leadership style refers to the approach or manner that an individual adopts in providing direction to his or her followers, motivating people, and implementing diverse operational plans.
Different leadership styles have been developed in the effort to guarantee the best service to people. Some of these styles include democratic or participative, laissez-faire or delegative style, and autocratic or authoritarian style.
Leaders adopt different leadership styles in an effort to achieve their goals. Warren Buffet has demonstrated a democratic leadership style. He nurtures a high level of collaboration with his followers. Moreover, he is committed towards developing an environment conducive for working.
Other elements that Warren Buffet focuses on in the course of controlling his companies include developing mutual trust, effective communication and respect for all. He is considered one of the most forgiving and loving leaders. He also recognises the contribution of the junior employees besides giving credit where it is due.
Moreover, Warren has also integrated servant leadership style. Silber and Kearny (2010) define this type of leadership as a style that is focused on serving others.
Servant leadership contributes towards the sharing of power with various individuals and groups. Some of the most notable qualities that positions Buffet as a servant leader is his empathy and motivation. Buffet has adopted Theory Y in an effort to motivate his followers and employees. Subsequently, he assigns challenging tasks to employees in an effort to stimulate them to attain their career and personal goals.
Unlike Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey has adopted delegative or the laissez-faire and transformational leadership styles (Bass & Steidlmeier 2002). The laissez-faire leadership style is utilised in situations whereby the leader delegates tasks to experienced individuals to undertake a particular task.
Subsequently, the leader recognises that he or she is not conversant with everything. Oprah Winfrey is a courageous woman who takes the bull by its horn. She is not shy to try new issues. Over the years, she has demonstrated a high level of determination and knowledge.
Moreover, Oprah has also integrated transformational leadership style as evidenced by the fact that she surrounds herself with experienced and brilliant individuals who have remarkably influenced her success. She is committed towards breaking out of her comfort zone and learning new issues. This strategy has played a critical role in her success as both a celebrity and a business personality.
Oprah Winfrey is committed towards transforming the life of other individuals. To achieve this noble goal, she has developed a strong team, which is charged with the responsibility of seeking brilliant and successful people from whom her followers can learn.
She also motivates individuals to believe in themselves and become the best in whatever that they do. Her transformational leadership style is further enhanced by the fact that she is very charismatic. Her charismatic nature is further enhanced by the fact that she inspires confidence amongst her followers.
Comparison of the Two Leaders
The above analysis shows that the two leaders are very influential. The two leaders have demonstrated adequate capacity to influence their followers positively. Subsequently, they have positioned themselves as role models to many people around the world. Their leadership acumen has played a fundamental role in motivating other individuals to attain their career and personal objectives.
In my own assessment, Warren Buffet stands out to be a more effective leader compared to Oprah Winfrey. This inference is evidenced by the numerous leadership qualities that he has developed over the years as discussed above. Moreover, his effectiveness in leadership is also illustrated by the fact that he has steered Berkshire Hathaway to be one of the most successful businesses in the US.
Besides, he is committed towards developing an environment that is conducive for working. Consequently, he has adopted a democratic leadership style. As a result, he allocates challenging tasks to other employees, hence providing them with an opportunity to attain their career goals.
He is also very frugal with regard to finance. This trait has greatly contributed towards his success as a leader with regard to investment. Aspects such as his level of philanthropy and the extent to which he advocates other people to be concerned about improving the wellbeing of other people also illustrate his commitment in leading by example.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The above analysis identifies leadership as one of the most important determinants in the success of organisations and countries. Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey are identified as some of the most influential people of the 21st century. Their ability to influence their followers has emanated from their commitment and level of focus with regard to leadership.
The report indicates that it is imperative for leaders to ensure that they develop effective leadership skills. Some of the skills that they need to consider include leading by example, humility, motivation, foresight, effective communication, humility, emotional intelligence, and being socially responsible.
It is imperative for leaders to integrate effective leadership styles to influence the behaviour of their followers successfully. Furthermore, it is critical for the two leaders to grow their leadership capability continuously. This strategy will enhance their capability to deal with new leadership issues.
Bass, B & Steidlmeier, P 2002, ‘Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behaviour’, The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 10 no. 2, pp. 181- 237.
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