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  • Elin Laurén

Lead like Oprah

A pioneer, successful businesswoman, and source of inspiration for millions of people - Oprah Winfrey has certainly made a name for herself. She is, however, not just a multibillionaire media executive, she has also received numerous awards for her philanthropic work. Our coach Christelle has learned a lot from her leadership style. Find out more by reading the article below in which she shares her thoughts on the subject.


”I’m not generally the type of person that’s drawn to celebrities or other influential people. I tend to admire individuals in my close circle. People I can relate to more easily. That’s probably why I was never particularly interested in Oprah - I couldn’t really identify myself with her. What do I have in common with someone as famous and powerful as her? She’s not just a person, but a brand. We also seem to have very different personalities, yet another thing that can make it harder to feel connected to someone. While Oprah is an extrovert who loves being in the spotlight, I prefer to work in the shadow where I can be my introverted self. Nevertheless, as I stumbled upon Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast* about her leadership style and learned more about her, I realized how much we have in common and that I can learn from her.

Be authentic and use your natural strengths. When Oprah showed her empathy as a journalist in her early career, she was fired. This led her to create the show which later became the start of her success. I often wished I had the ability to charm an entire room with a few well-chosen words, but I’ve learned to embrace my introversion. With it, I’m able to make conscious and deeper connections with the people I actually choose to connect with. Since I prefer asking questions compared to answering them, I gather a lot of information and thus insight as well. This enables me to better meet people’s needs when I, for example, work as a coach.

Find your purpose. Oprah believes that we are all on a journey of self-development to find our true calling in life. Events, mistakes, and feelings lead us to identify our path piece by piece. For me, living with purpose means embodying my personal values: empowerment, curiosity, integrity, and positivity. As a coach, I feel that my work is aligned with them. Helping others finding their purpose also helps me to actively work on creating clarity around my own.

Take ownership of your mistakes. The thought of being famous and making a mistake that everybody could criticize me for terrifies me. Oprah Winfrey, however, doesn't really have a choice. And she has made mistakes - many times over. What makes her different, though, is that she always takes ownership of hers. She has apologized, made amends, and moved on - a better and stronger version of herself afterward. I feel that the fear of making a mistake and being judged for it are barriers for my self-development and, therefore, I’m slowly learning to dare to take risks.

Leading like Oprah isn’t about trying to be like her, it’s about embracing who you fully are. About being open to continuously reflect, try, and push yourself to improve. And now when I feel insecure about what to do, like Oprah’s followers I can ask myself “what would Oprah do?”.”

Do you want to become a better leader? Do you want to learn more about coaching and look into the possibility of having Christelle as a coach? Then click here!


*The Harvard Business Review Ideacast is a weekly podcast featuring thought leaders within business and management. The Oprah Winfrey episode is part of a series called ‘Real Leaders’.

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