20 Powerful TED Talks to Improve Your Leadership Skills

3 min read
Jan 9, 2018

Where would we be without TED Talks? Since 1984, TED has worked to share ideas relating to technology, health, and management, among other subjects. Throughout the years, speakers like Al Gore, David Blaine, and Douglas Adams have given talk  to help inspire others to improve their lives.


Here are 20 such talks that should inspire you to become a better leader:

1. Itay Talgam: Lead Like the Great Conductor



Conductors are charged with quite the complex task: creating beautiful music without making a sound themselves. Talgam’s talk focuses on how leaders can take a similar approach to their work.

2. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread



For Godin, a marketing wizard, success is often not the result of boring ideas. We’re drawn to the bad and bizarre, and here’s why.

3. Kare Anderson: Be an Opportunity Maker



A writer who is chronically shy, Anderson knows a thing or two about making the most of an opportunity. Her talk stresses the importance of surrounding yourself with different and dissimilar ideas.

4. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action



For Sinek, an author and leadership expert, all great leaders start with the question “Why?” With passion and determination, they succeed.

The Beginner's Guide to Great Leadership

5. Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn … Then Lead



McChrystal, a four-star general, knows a thing or two about being a leader. His talk focuses on how he was able to build support across such a broad constituency in the armed forces.

6. Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a Life of Immersion



We all want meaningful lives, but it can be tricky to figure out exactly what to invest our energies in. Novogratz, a social entrepreneur, speaks to the importance of immersion.

7. John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding



The renowned NCAA basketball coach shares his thoughts on why we should strive to become the best versions of ourselves.

8. Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders



It’s true that, for the most part, men occupy most desks in the C-suite. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, offers women advice as to how they can take their careers to the next level in this TED talk.

9. Mellody Hobson: Color Blind or Color Brave?



In this talk, Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, shares her views on the importance of diversity and the necessity of becoming comfortable with race. Hobson argues it’s time we start talking more about racial issues.

10. Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement



Even the smartest people in the world usually need a sidekick to start a movement. Sivers, an entrepreneur, turns to some funny video footage to prove his point.

11. Diana Laufenberg: How to Learn From Mistakes



With decades of teaching under her belt, Laufenberg knows a thing or two about making mistakes. Luckily, she offers advice as to how we can best overcome them.

12. Richard St. John: 8 Secrets of Success



Trying to figure out what ingredients make successful people? Hear author Richard St. John give a two-hour presentation in three minutes.

13. David Logan: Tribal Leadership



By offering insight into how humans naturally form groups in tribal settings, Professor Logan hopes we can form stronger relationships.

14. Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability



Strong leaders might believe they can’t show a single chink in their armor, so to speak. Brown, who studies human connections, convinces us otherwise.

15. Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Stanford Professor Carol Dweck believes “yet” is one of the strongest words in the English language. Understanding the power of “yet” can help us continue to improve.

16. Elon Musk: The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity

Deviating from the standard TED Talk format, Musk is interviewed by a curator about his otherworldly projects in this must-watch video.

17. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

For psychologist Cuddy, our posture has much more of an impact on our experiences than we might think. Great leaders need great posture; find out why.

18. Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Think you’ll be super upset if you fail? Think again. Author Gilbert proves we can be happy even when we’re miserable.

19. Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

It’s true that it’s probably easier to notice extroverted folks, generally speaking. But you shouldn’t underestimate the strength of the introverted.

20. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

The better your mood, the better your output. It’s as simple as that. Hear more from Achor, a psychologist.


The best leadership skills are the ones that support clear and open communication across your team. Whether it's communicating to increase employee engagement, or understanding what mistakes not to make, take this opportunity to start the year fresh and resolve to become a better manager to your team.




Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. 

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