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OPRAH WINFREY: EXEMPLIFYING TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
BECKY GOODRIDGE
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

WHAT MAKES OPRAH A
T...
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Oprah winfrey poster of transformational leader

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Oprah winfrey poster of transformational leader

  1. 1. OPRAH WINFREY: EXEMPLIFYING TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP BECKY GOODRIDGE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE WHAT MAKES OPRAH A TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADER? WHO IS OPRAH WINFREY? • Oprah Winfrey, known to the world as simply Oprah, is an entertainment celebrity and a global philanthropist. Oprah was born in Mississippi in 1954. Despite her challenging childhood, she became academically successful in high school, which led to her first job at the age of 17 reading the news at a Nashville radio station. Oprah attended Tennessee State University on a full scholarship, but left school to work as a reporter and anchor for a local television station. From there, she moved to Baltimore where she was a reporter, a co-anchor, and a talk show co-host at a Baltimore television news channel. In 1984, Oprah relocated to Chicago to host the television talk show, AM Chicago, which was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show within less than a year. As a result of the success she brought to the show, it became a nationally broadcasted program ranking number one among talk shows. • In addition to hosting The Oprah Winfrey Show for twenty-five years, Oprah is known for many additional accomplishments. She has received many entertainment and philanthropic awards and established her own production company and magazine publication. Early in her career, Oprah helped initiate legislation for a national database of convicted child abusers. She has continuously encouraged and promoted discussions on books through her book club and recently started a leadership school for girls in South Africa. Through her influential position, Oprah has inspired people all over the world to engage in personal and global transformations. As a philanthropist, she has supported and founded many charitable organizations such as Oprah’s Angle Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program, and The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP ACCOMPLISHMENTS 1991 1993 1996 1998 1999 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2011 2012 2013 Oprah initiates the National Child Protection Act and testifies before Congress President Clinton signs the “Oprah Bill” into law establishing a national database of convicted child abusers Oprah’s Book Club is launched Oprah’s Angel Network is established Time Magazine names Oprah in 100 most influential people of the 20th century National Book Foundation—50th Anniversary Gold Medal (for her service to books and authors) 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards®—Bob Hope Humanitarian Award Oprah initiates Christmas-Kindness in South Africa Association of American Publishers—AAP Honors Award (given to individual outside publishing industry for significantly promoting American books & authors) Time Magazine names Oprah in 100 most influential people in the world (received every year from 2004 to 2011) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—Hall of Fame National Civil Rights Museum—2005 National Freedom Award Oprah’s National High School Essay Contest (almost 50,000 participants) The New York Public Library—Library Lion 2006 (warded to an outstanding individual who makes a lasting impact on our culture) Opens the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity—2007 Humanitarian Award Conducts 1st Web Series to discuss A New Earth (35 million views) Pennsylvania is prompted to pass legislation to set ethical standards and requirements at puppy mills after Oprah sheds light on issue The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences— Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award/Honorary Academy Award Spelman College—National Community Service Award Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom REFERENCES • Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational Leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Oprah Winfrey Encouragement Billboard. (2014, Jan). Retrieved from Values.com: http://www.values.com/inspirational-sayings-billboards/66-Encouragement • Oprah Winfrey Profile. (2014, Jan). Retrieved from Academy of Achievement: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/win0bio-1 • Oprah Winfrey's Official Biography. (2014, Jan). Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/pressroom/Oprah-Winfreys-Official-Biography • Pearson, C. S. (Ed.). (2012). The transforming leader: New approaches to leadership for the twenty-first century. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. • Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on educating, inspiring, and motivating followers to promote a positive, common outcome. Transformational leadership is not self-serving but rather based in morality and ethical leadership. Transformational leaders embody the vision that they are promoting, encourage leadership development within their followers, and care about their followers’ achievements. • Oprah Winfrey has been a public figure her entire adult life, but her extraordinary fame is not what makes her a transformational leader. Oprah chose to use her television platform to influence her viewers to be the best version of themselves. She did this through transparency to her audience as she shared her triumphs and failures in an effort to inspire her viewers to look within themselves and strive for improvement. Oprah also took every opportunity to enlighten and educate people by shedding light on important issues and by starting a book club to encourage people to engage in reading. In regard to her generous, philanthropic endeavors, Oprah not only shared her wealth to help improve the lives of many, but also created charities and programs through which her followers could participate to improve their communities and the world. One such organization is the Angel Network. • It was a little girl who inspired Oprah’s Angel Network. The girl told Oprah that she had collected a thousand dollars in pennies to donate to different organizations. In 1997, Oprah asked her viewers to join her in making a difference in the world. Viewers began saving spare change and sent it to the Angel Network. Initially, the viewer donations resulted in 3.5 million dollars which provided $25,000 college scholarships to 150 students. Another example the Angel Network’s impact was the 15,000 viewers who volunteered their time and skills to help Habitat for Humanity build hundreds of new homes for people in need. In 2000, the Angel Network identified and gave money to over fifty community organizations that were working to support their local community. Oprah traveled to South Africa in 2002 to help spread happiness at Christmas. Viewers, again inspired by Oprah, donated nine million dollars to help 50,000 children in orphanages and rural schools receive food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, books, and toys. In 2007, Oprah’s Angel Network helped build and restore three hundred homes that were destroyed during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As of 2008, the Angle Network had also built sixty schools in thirteen countries. • Oprah’s established reputation is that of morality and inspiration in our society. Her cultural influences are far reaching and transformational. Her daily television broadcast, The Oprah Winfrey Show, had approximately 40 million viewers each week which provided her with the leadership opportunity to transform the lives of her followers. She continues to be highly regarded for her qualities of transformational leadership as is evident through invitations to speak in commencement ceremonies at schools such as Stanford and Harvard. Oprah has made it her life’s work to improve not only herself and the world, but to help others live their best life while they strive to make a difference. “Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” ~Oprah Winfrey

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