This is a leadership paper talks about my role model and a famous leader i would like to talk about; Oprah Gail Winfrey, who has very powerful influential skills and has changed the lives of many people in positive ways. The paper focuses on how she came to be who she is today (Biography), the achievements she made till date, what qualities she has as a leader, her strengths and weaknesses.
Leaders come in all kinds of works in life; they could be through behavioural, traits, transformational etc.
A leader is a person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, and creating an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team but, instead, the person that is committed to carrying out the mission of the Venture. When we talk about leaders we all assume they are men who have good qualities; brave, wise, strong and can easily influence decision of their followers.
There are many women leaders that have been successful too as the men, women who fought for human rights, who are good listeners who always want to help, those who suffered to get to that point in which they are and would want to make a change in our generation. A Woman like Oprah Winfrey, One of the most successful African-Americans, she made a huge difference in the lives of many people. It has to be none other than Oprah Winfrey, a media personality, producer, literary critic, actress and magazine publisher. She was catapulted to ecstatic heights of success and popularity with her Oprah Winfrey Show where she was the host. She has created awareness about many socially sensitive issues through her shows; her being a woman just like I am motivates me to know more about her.
BIOGRAPHY AND EARLY LIFE:
Oprah Winfrey was born January 29, 1954 Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi to unmarried parents. She later explained that her conception was due to a single sexual encounter that her two teenage parents had; they broke up not long after. From age 3 to 14, she lived in Milwaukee with her mother, Vernita Lee who was a housemaid. She taught Oprah how to read by the age of three. Oprah was smarter and more intelligent than her peers in the community where she grew. As she grew older and prettier, she started facing challenges even before reaching the age of ten. Oprah experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, including being raped at the age of nine and was also molested and abused by her cousin, uncle, and family friend, After suffering abuse and molestation, she ran away and was sent to a juvenile detention home at the age of 13, only to be denied admission because all the beds were filled.
Unfortunately, she got pregnant at the age of 14 and didn’t want to abort it because she believed she would be committing murder in disguise if she did, after she gave birth, her son died as an infant. Also at that age, as a last resort her frustrated mother sent her to live with Vernon in Nashville, Tennessee with her father Vernon Winfrey. He saw to it that his daughter met a midnight curfew, and he required her to read a book and write a book report each week. “As strict as he was,” says Oprah, “he had some concerns about me making the best of my life, and would not accept anything less than what he thought was my best. Winfrey became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, joined her high school speech team at East Nashville High School, and placed second in the nation in dramatic interpretation. She won an oratory contest, which secured her full scholarship to Tennessee State University, a historically black institution, where she studied communication.
Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store. At age 17, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. She also attracted the attention of the local black radio station, WVOL, which hired her to do the news part-time. She worked there during her senior year of high school, and again while in her first two years of college. Winfrey’s career choice in media did not surprise her grandmother, who once said that ever since Winfrey could talk, she was on stage. Working in local media, she was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. She moved to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV in 1976 to co-anchor the six o’clock news. She loves being with people and she was also loved by all who knew her.
Honors and Awards: In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and contributions, Oprah has received numerous honors including the most prestigious awards.
-In 1986 she received both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her film debut role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. Woman of Achievement Award, National Organization for Women. One of the ten most admired women, Playgirl.
– In 1988 Oprah Winfrey show received its second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Talk/Service Program, and she herself received the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” Award. She was the youngest person and only the fifth woman ever to receive the honor in IRTS’s 25-year history.
– In 1991 was given Emmy award for best daytime talk show host, Academy of television arts and sciences, also in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1997.
– In 1998 Oprah received a National Academy of television Arts & Sciences- Lifetime Achievement Award and was also named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, her influence extended to the publishing industry when she began her on-air book club. Oprah Book Club selections became instant bestsellers, and in 1999 she received the National Book Foundation’s 50th anniversary gold medal for her service to books and authors.
– In 2004 to 2010 was also named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. And in 2008 according to Forbes magazine for the second year in a row, Oprah Winfrey was named “the Most Powerful Celebrity”.
World’s most famous Influential woman: Winfrey was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and Time.com, arguably the most influential woman in the world” by the American Spectator, one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century” and “one of the most influential people” of from 2004 to 2010 by Time. Winfrey is the only person in the world to have appeared in the latter list on all eight occasions. Oprah is the only person to appear in the list every year. Throughout her life, she has focused on influencing and touching people’s lives. She has not let her race affect these goals.
“One reason why Oprah has been so influential in American society is because she has been able to reach all different people: not just African Americans and not just women. In other words, she has crossed racial and gender lines despite her being an African American woman. Cassandra Hayes, senior editor for Black Enterprise, said “People don’t tend to look at Oprah as just a black talk show host. She cuts across all marks and all genres”. She has made a difference in the lives of people of all gender and race. CNN movie reviewer Paul Tatara said in an article: “Winfrey’s ability to communicate with the unseen millions on a homey, grass-roots level is just about unequalled in the history of television. She’s like an empowering Arthur Godfrey. She’s also the first black woman to become a major influence in the world of entertainment, and she rightfully receives loads of praise for it”. Her ability to cross these strict lines that American society has placed on its citizens has made her so incredibly influential and successful.”
Billy O’ Reilly a commentator said: I mean this is a woman that came from nothing to rise up to be the most powerful woman, I think, in the world. I think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the world, not just in America. That’s – anybody who goes on her program immediately benefits through the roof. I mean, she has a loyal following; she has credibility; she has talent; and she’s done it on her own to become fabulously wealthy and fabulously powerful.
Winfrey’s influence reaches far beyond pop culture and into unrelated industries where many believe she has the power to cause enormous market swings and radical price changes with a single comment. During a show about mad cow disease with Howard Lyman (aired on April 16, 1996), Winfrey exclaimed, “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!” Texas cattlemen sued her and Lyman in early 1998 for “false defamation of perishable food” and “business disparagement”, claiming that Winfrey’s remarks subsequently sent cattle prices tumbling, costing beef producers some $12 million.
Book club show/ Talk show: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” became the number one talk show in national syndication in less than a year. In June 1987, in its first year of eligibility, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received three Daytime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Host, Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Outstanding Direction. In June 1988, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received its second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Talk/Service Program, and she herself received the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” Award. She was the youngest person and only the fifth woman ever to receive the honour in IRTS’s 25-year history, but she announced to her audience during this year that she will be ending her show by next year September 9th 2011 as its 25th season, this was one of her emotional talk shows, and that the decision came with prayer and careful thought, her audience stated she was very nervous before she made it official, but then she’s opening another show called Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011. (Emotional Oprah annouces end of her show, 2009).
Leadership Academy for Girls: is a girls-only boarding school that officially opened in January 2007 at Henley-on-Klip in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg, »¿ / -26.54694; 28.05528 South Africa Inspired by her own “humble beginnings” and disadvantaged background, Oprah Winfrey stated that she founded the Leadership Academy to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds in South Africa who exhibited leadership qualities for making a difference in the world. School educates girls in Grades 7 through 12-is therefore a wonderfully appropriate gift to the people of South Africa, one that will endure over many lifetimes. Not only academic learning but the girls did extracurricular activities Growing foods, Visiting Orphans, Visiting the elderly and going for Art festivals. Two of the students from the school were selected to represent South Africa in the Women2Women America International Leadership Conference in Boston U.S. Oprah Winfrey was praised by Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton because of this great accomplishment. (Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls)
Good listener: A very wise and intelligent person develops a skill to listen. Oprah Winfrey is a very good listener, that’s one of the things that makes her influential she listens to her public viewers and always has something to say, or give solutions to each and every problem they have. She shows them they have all her time which makes them comfortable to tell her whatever is on their mind. She analyses their problems from every view and helps them get through whatever rough patch they are facing.
Influential: I believe influence is the union of power and purpose. This is one of her greatest qualities which she achieved so much with, she was honored because of how influential she was and still is up to date, received so many awards starting from 2004 till date. She has focused on influencing and touching lives of people on way or another, she was inspired to help people take better control of their lives and destinies. Oprah has held onto this goal strongly throughout her career. After she completed Beloved, Oprah commented: “And I realized that I had no right to quit coming from a history of people who had no voice, who had no power, and that I have been given this blessed opportunity to speak to people, to influence them in ways that can make a difference in their lives and to use just that”. Oprah Winfrey has been the first to do a lot of different things. An example of one of those firsts is her ability to influence the millions of Oprah Winfrey Show fans with something as simple as a good review. When she reviews a product or service, people listen. When she endorses a book, it becomes a Best Seller. Her thoughts and opinions are so valued that CNBC is doing a documentary about her called The Oprah Effect. She used her influential skills to reach out to people, to send them a message, to help them; this gave her a lot of power and courage to stand up for herself and her people, once she has spoken, everyone takes note of that.
Optimistic: Oprah has been optimistic right from the start she never gave up, because she had a rough and cruel childhood, she always knew there was something good coming, always been positive about the future no matter how bad it is. And now she wants people to believe in that and have courage of what is coming next is going to be good no matter how bad things turn out. Oprah has a vision of turning her children “Students in Leadership Academy” to better people in the future and world class leaders.
Philanthropist: Oprah has a good heart in terms of helping the unfortunate, In 1998, Winfrey began Oprah’s Angel Network, a charity aimed at encouraging people around the world to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged others. Accordingly, Oprah’s Angel Network supports charitable projects and provides grants to non profit organizations around the world that share this vision. To date, Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 ($1 million of which was donated by Jon Bon Jovi). Winfrey personally covers all administrative costs associated with the charity, so 100% of all funds raised go to charity programs. Winfrey personally donates more of her own money to charity than any other show-business celebrity in America. In 2005 she became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America’s top 50 most generous philanthropists, having given an estimated $303 million. Winfrey was the 32nd most philanthropic. She has also been repeatedly ranked as the most philanthropic celebrity. She has been generous to her staff/employees and their families showing them appreciation of a good job. Oprah quotes “I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process”.
Animal Rights Activism: Oprah not only cares for humans but she also cares for animals. Winfrey was named as the ‘2008 Person of the Year’ by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). According to PETA, “Winfrey uses her fame and listening audience to help the less fortunate, including animals”. They praised Winfrey for using her talk show to uncover horrific cases of cruelty to animals in puppy mills and on factory farms, and Winfrey even used the show to highlight the cruelty-free vegan diet that she tried, She discourages killing of animals just for fashion or clothing, Winfrey also refuses to wear fur or feature it in her magazine.
Political Advocacy: Winfrey endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. This is the first time she publicly made such an endorsement. Winfrey held a fundraiser for Obama on September 8, 2007, at her Santa Barbara estate. In December 2007, Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The Columbia, South Carolina event on December 9, 2007, drew a crowd of nearly 30,000, the largest for any political event of 2007. An analysis by two economists at the University of Maryland, College Park estimated that Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for between 423,123 and 1,596,995 votes for Obama in the Democratic primary alone, based on a sample of states that did not include Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas, or Alaska. The results suggest that in the sampled states, Oprah’s endorsement was responsible for the difference in the popular vote between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The governor of Illinois reported being so impressed by Winfrey’s influence on the election of Barack Obama that he considered offering Winfrey Obama’s vacant senate seat. He summarized that
“To begin with, she was perhaps the most instrumental person in electing Barack Obama president. She is a larger-than-life figure in America and around the world. She has a huge bully pulpit and tremendous support across America…She has a voice larger than all 100 senators combined. And if she was a U.S. Senator, she would be a voice for the Obama program, which she supports, and she would be in a position to be able to use an unbelievable bully pulpit to be able to get it done. She obviously can’t be bought. And she’s actually a very, obviously, in my judgment, a very impressive and a very nice person”.
STRENGTHS: Oprah Quotes “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength”
Performance: Oprah performs so well in front of her audience; she is so confident in talking she believes in herself, she believes her words would make a change. When she stands in front of her audience even before talking she captures their attention to what she has to say, she has a very powerful, intriguing and emotional performance. Oprah is able to connect with her audience on an excellent level, she tells tales and brings up concerns which people can relate to and learn lessons from it.
Media: Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has entertained enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for the past two decades. Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today. Oprah has very high ratings through media.
Successful: Because of how optimistic she was she just kept going till she reached to the top and now she’s successful. Not only being successful matters but the people matter the most.
Love and passion: Oprah is the kind of leader that is always willing to help, she doesn’t want to see people hurt or in pain, she has good heart, have helped people of all races and all religions all over the world and God in heaven is aware of the great things you have accomplished. She is a great icon of charity that spends millions on them.
She has proven a record of turning some of her weaknesses into strengths, and this is how she became one of the world’s most prominent leaders.
Family: Oprah has no family of her own, which makes her a very lonely person. Even when she dies there’s no family to show concern except for her fans, no one will be in her will and all her possessions will go to waste, but probably charity. Critics have been saying love is also her weakness, that’s why she hasn’t gotten married yet because of the cruelty and rape she went through she cannot trust no other man.
Insecurity: Oprah has weight problem, she’s insecure about her weight because she can easily get fat, so she watches her weight a lot and the kind of food she eats. She has this habit of overeating to numb her emotional feelings. Oprah’s eating disorder has been a constant companion in her successful and influential image in the American television industry. Winfrey once said,
“The reason I gained so much weight in the first place and the reason I had such a sorry history of abusive relationships with men was I just needed approval so much. I needed everyone to like me, because I didn’t like myself much. So I’d end up with these cruel self-absorbed guys who’d tell me how selfish I was, and I’d say ‘Oh thank you, you’re so right’ and be grateful to them”. (Oprah Winfrey’s eating disorder was a defense mechanism, 2010)
Feminist: if you have realised many leaders don’t choose sides; whether male or female, they are concerned about both genders in general. Oprah as a leader she only focuses and is only concern about the female, which explains her leadership school for girls in South Africa. Her support base is overwhelmingly female. Her content is aimed at women’s interests. Her main critics are mostly men.
Emotional: Oprah can be a very emotional person; she can easily get deceived by the audience when they get emotional. On several occasions she cries in her shows when something touching happens.
In conclusion, I am very proud of my leader to have such good qualities, being one of the most influential people in the world and having a life time achievement award. She is one great example of a person who has succeeded to rise from poverty and overcome terrible experiences in her past because of her determination and hard efforts. Her decisions to constitute her own destiny and her self-confidence make her the perfect role model for any women in the world. She remains as a humble and warm-hearted person who continues to be an inspiration for every person. I believe from Oprah’s life and achievements we can learn a lot, we can also become leaders one day through behaviour (followers learning or copying from their leaders acts). We have to learn to care for one another regardless of religion, ethical group, and race. We should always learn to be optimistic about things in life not everything would turn out the way we want them always be thankful for what you have as Oprah said “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”.