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Five TED talks on leadership worth watching

TED, the annual ideas confab, is wrapping up Friday, ending its 30th anniversary year with a day of speakers ranging from Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman, to a retired California Highway Patrol officer who teaches suicide awareness and crisis management after years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge.

What began as a onetime event 30 years ago has grown into a star-making factory and global enterprise with independently organized local conferences, a line of e-books and, now, its own professional development unit that is bringing TED-style events to corporations such as State Street and BCG. While we mere mortals who couldn't attend (or don't have the $600 to spend on live access) wait for more of this year's talks to be shared online, here are a few TED talks from recent years on leadership that are most worth watching.

1) Itay Talgam, 2009

Former orchestra conductor and consultant Itay Talgam shows clips from famous maestros to illustrate several powerful lessons for leaders, such as why it matters to show how much you enjoy the work and treat the people you lead like partners.

2) Derek Sivers, 2010

This short, three-minute talk may seem a little silly at first -- entrepreneur and musician Derek Sivers shows a film of one seriously uninhibited man dancing in a park. But the lesson it holds -- about the critical role of the first follower -- is a powerful one for leaders.

3) Amy Cuddy, 2012

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy describes how our body language isn't just something that changes how others view us -- it changes how we think of ourselves. If you're not already familiar with it, her description of "power posing" might make you rethink the way you approach every important meeting or interview in your future.

4) Angela Lee Duckworth, 2013

Duckworth, the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, may be most known for her work in studying the role of grit, rather than intelligence, in predicting success in students. But this talk is also a worthy reminder for leaders of the attributes they should look for in people - -perseverance, self-control and sustained interest in long-term goals -- as well as that they should work on in themselves.

5) Stanley McChrystal, 2011

The retired U.S. Army general who stepped down as the top commander in Afghanistan after that famous Rolling Stone article has gone on to launch a successful corporate leadership training firm. This talk gives us a taste of the gravelly-voiced general's approach and his credible take on how to lead a diverse group of people toward a collective goal.

Read also:

Does sitting at a big desk make you cheat?

MacArthur 'genius' Angela Duckworth on the importance of grit

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.



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Jena McGregor · March 21, 2014

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