5 TED Talks on transformational leadership to watch

Want to bring transformational leadership to your IT group? Get informed and inspired.
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Becoming a transformational leader begins with learning to rethink leadership. Few tools expand your ability to see things in a new light as effectively as watching TED Talks. Several of the best TED speakers have tackled the topic of leadership and how to think about it in completely new ways. 

[Want more leadership coaching? See our 10 summer must-reads for IT leaders.]

These five talks will help you when you're struggling to overcome resistance to change, create innovation, and create the technology that your organization will need to thrive in the digital age. 

1. 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change

Speaker: Jim Hemerling

To succeed in today's world, organizations need "always-on" transformation, says Hemerling, managing director in The Boston Consulting Group's People & Organization and Transformation Practices. Sounds exhausting, right? But, Hemerling argues, it can be invigorating instead, if you follow five approaches that all have one thing in common: They make the people who work for you your top priority.

2. 3 ways to plan for the (very) long term 

Speaker: Ari Wallach

Ari Wallach has been a futurist for 20 years, and in that time he's watched plan times shrink dramatically. Executives used to discuss the future in terms of 10 or 20 years, but now six months is closer to the norm. That might seem logical in our rapidly changing world. But making decisions with only the next few months or a year in mind forces decision-makers to opt for short-term solutions that may do more harm than good in the long run.

To counteract that phenomenon, he recommends "longpath" thinking as an exercise – a way of looking at the world of multiple possible futures, and how decisions will affect our organizations for generations to come.

3. How to manage for collective creativity 

Speaker: Linda Hill

Linda Hill is a Harvard management professor and co-author of "Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation." She and her colleagues spent nearly 10 years following and interviewing innovation leaders at Google and Pixar, as well as many other global companies. 

Their goal: Find out how leaders create innovation in their teams – because traditional management methods of motivating and giving incentives work well in some ways, but not when it comes to innovation. Innovation is generally not a single smart person having an "Aha!" moment, they concluded. See what they learned about collaboration.  

4. The puzzle of motivation 

Speaker: Dan Pink

Former Al Gore speechwriter and author Dan Pink has some news about motivation: Traditional incentives (such as bonuses) can make us work harder when a task is fairly straightforward – but they actually hamper innovation and creative thinking, he argues. To unleash creativity, employees need to work on tasks for their own sake – because they're enjoyable or interesting, or part of a larger effort that seems important. (Think Wikipedia, compared to Microsoft's encyclopedia project Encarta.) It all begins with autonomy.

5. Tribal leadership 

Speaker: David Logan

David Logan is a management consultant who teaches leadership in the USC Executive MBA program. Whether we know it or not, he says, all of us are members of tribes. These tribes function at different stages of evolution, ranging from street gangs up to tribes that band together with other tribes to achieve ambitious goals. You can move your own tribe up the evolutionary ladder, and you may be surprised by what you can accomplish when you do.

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and columnist for Inc.com. She is co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," as well as several other books. She lives in Snohomish, Washington.


none of them worth watching