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Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Traits and Virtues Term Paper

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2020


Leadership is the process by which a person makes use of his or her skills to cause social influence, and thus accomplish a specified goal. A leader is expected to head and offer guidance to his or her team (VanVactor, 2012). S/he is expected to be a role model for his or her subordinates, and thus s/he must possess the relevant leadership skills to achieve this objective. This paper outlines the major skills that a leader should possess by using Oprah Winfrey as an example.


This virtue is the most important trait that every leader should possess, as it is the ability to admit a mistake whenever things go wrong. Unfortunately, most leaders fail in this area. Initially, there was an assumption that every leader was honest in his or her position. However, due to the rising cases of dishonesty, this assumption no longer holds. Indisputably, a leader’s functions include experimenting with new ideas. However, most leaders tend to dodge this responsibility for fear of failure. Nevertheless, a good leader can accept his or her mistakes, and by so doing, one stands a better chance of influencing his or her followers into admitting their wrongs (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Admitting one’s mistakes increases the employees’ confidence in the lead and creates a good image for the outside world.


A forward-looking leader can set goals in advance. This trait underscores the ability of a leader to create a vision on his or her intentions and communicate the same to the individuals involved in making the vision a success. Every good leader should make time for planning and strategize in the future. The leader should then communicate the vision to his/her subordinates and place the necessary strategies to achieve the vision (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Most leaders shy from communicating their vision to their subordinates for fear of failure. However, a good leader will communicate the vision without fear since he or she is determined and ready to accept his/her mistakes and learn from them.


A leader is expected to demonstrate high levels of competency and expertise when executing his/her duties. Many people tend to assume that the holder of leadership positions is competent. However, this assumption is flawed. Competency lies in the cause of action chosen in different situations. However, this aspect does not mean that leaders have to be experts in all disciplines, but they need to exercise a reasonable degree of expertise in their decisions (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).

This element boosts the employees’ confidence in leadership and influences their attitude in the workplace. In demonstrating competency, one has to be careful not to act in a manner that will undermine other people in the organization. This aspect will lead to hatred and a feeling of inferiority. The leader must handle the process skillfully by recognizing the contributions of other team players. This way, the leader’s competency will indirectly stand out while maintaining harmony in the team that contributed to the success.

Inspiring trait

The other important trait that is evident in great leaders is an inspiring trait. This attribute involves motivating employees and influencing their attitude towards their responsibilities in an organization. Inspirational leaders encourage others to see the positive side of life and urge them to find a sense of purpose in life and work (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). This aspect may come out in the form of celebrating the achievements realized due to hard work on the part of employees. This way, a sense of involvement is created amongst employees, which may motivate workers to perform better and achieve the set targets.

Northouse approach

Northouse’s analysis cites intelligence, self-confidence, determination, and integrity as the key traits that leaders should possess. However, his explanation of the traits correlates with the explanation of the traits mentioned above. For example, in his discussion on determination, he points out that a determined leader sets a goal and puts in place the necessary measures to achieve it. This explanation is too close to that of forwarding looking trait. He also cites competency as an additional trait necessary for the day-to-day running of a business (Northouse, 2012). In light of this analysis, it is evident that the two approaches agree on most issues, but disagree on a few matters.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the best examples of a leader who has successfully implemented the qualities mentioned above in her day-to-day responsibilities. The leadership traits are evident in Oprah, who has served as a team leader in Oprah Winfrey Show for more than 20 years. She is also the CEO of the Oprah company. She has demonstrated competency as she has been in a position to run the show for over two decades. In her career as a TV presenter, she has successfully attracted viewers from all over the world (Whatley, 2012). This aspect is a clear indication that people find competency and honesty in her.

Additionally, if she were not competent enough, she could not have been that successful. During her tenure as a TV presenter, she demonstrated her honesty trait whenever she advertised a product; people would embrace it autonomously. This aspect is a good indicator that she inspired many lives who trusted her in return. Also, her success did not come automatically. She embraced competence and honesty to achieve her goals. She must have had a plan, strategized, and communicated the same to her team, demonstrating her forward-looking trait.

Personal evaluation

Considering the numerous feats achieved by various leaders like Winfrey Oprah, I intend to assess myself against them. In the course of my studies, I secured attachments in various organizations. The most inspiring placement came from the drug supplying company. It was just by coincidence that the company manager had left for a two-month compulsory leave, and I had to take over as an acting manager. During this period, I had the opportunity to test my leadership skills.

My first step was to formulate a plan. In this important stage, I invited all the stakeholders to give their suggestions on what should be included in the plan and strategies, which would be put in place for the successful implementation of our program. I evaluated every suggestion skillfully and came up with a plan, which I communicated to all stakeholders. In this new task, I consulted in many areas, which I was not conversant with, to make decisions acceptable to the majority. Also, I accepted my mistakes in the course of performing my duties. This way, I demonstrated competence, honesty, and, most importantly, forward-looking traits.


Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

VanVactor, J. D. (2012). Collaborative leadership model in the management of health care. Journal of Business Research, 65(4), 555-561.

Whatley, L. R. (2012). An “ethical mindset”-linking OD and the implicit assumptions leaders make when reviewing the insights of Douglas McGregor. Journal of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 9(3), 104-114.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Traits and Virtues." August 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/oprah-winfreys-leadership-traits-and-virtues/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Traits and Virtues'. 7 August.

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