Watching TED talks can be a fantastic way to support your development as a leader – they’re free, accessible anytime/anywhere (perfect for the time-poor, multi-tasking mama), and provide access to learn from the experiences of world-class leaders and thinkers. The three most valuable lessons I’ve learned from TED talks are all from TED events more than 5 years old, but I feel these are lessons that have stuck with me and that I’ve shared widely with others.
1. Small acts of everyday leadership can change lives.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer and Lean In author, Sheryl Sandberg, defines leadership as “making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” In this talk, Drew Dudley tells a wonderful story which demonstrates this in practice. Everyone can be a leader. While we tend to focus on the large, public, high-profile acts of leadership, it’s actually the small, everyday interactions that can have the greatest impact on others.
2. Ask the second question.
Leadership is all about human connection. It is through our connection with others that we learn, we motivate, and we create. At TEDxCanberra 2011, Canberra entrepreneur, Sam Prince, told a wonderful story about how simply engaging a stranger in conversation by ‘asking the second question’ opened a significant opportunity and dramatically changed the trajectory of his business and his life. Often our professional interactions with others can be superficial and brief – what opportunities might we be missing when we don’t ask the second question?
3. Show people the gap between what is and what could be.
A significant part of leadership (and motherhood!) is getting others on board with your ideas, and the most effective way to convey ideas is through stories. In this talk, presentation expert Nancy Duarte, deconstructs some of history’s most famously compelling talks. The key takeaway for me was the power of repeatedly comparing what is and what could be to draw people in to being excited about a future with your idea adopted. Even if you’re not delivering presentations, I find that this can be an incredibly effective strategy in interpersonal communication (with colleagues, clients and even your kids!)
Finding the time to work on our leadership can seem overwhelming. Children, work and the never ending chores can seem to pull us in all directions. But we can all carve out small snippets of time for ourselves, and they needn’t compete with everything else that is going on. TED talks can easily be watches while doing the dishes, on the cardio machines at the gym, while you are winding down before bed, on the bus to work, or on your coffee break.
Commit to your leadership as a practice, and find small ways to weave it into your day.
Take this topic further:
- If you enjoyed these three talks, you might also like the three talks on career and motherhood that we’ve suggested in the past
- Stuck on figuring out how to fit time for yourself into your day and week? Our Design Your Perfect Week program is designed to help you figure this out. You can choose from our affordable self-guided program ($29) or with one-on-one coaching included ($249)
- If habit change trips you up, Better Than Before: Mastering habits in our everyday lives* by Gretchen Rubin is a useful guide to habit change
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