5 TED Talks for Developing Leadership and Management Skills

By Eric Taussig | Updated: 19 Sep, 2017

Leadership and management skills have never been more important than they are today, yet people still often confuse them with each other. 

Below, are 5 TED Talks that examine the differences between leadership and management, and how to increase skills in both areas. 

5 Great TED Talks for Developing Leadership and Management Skills


1. Drew Dudley | "Everyday Leadership"

: Drew Dudley’s interest in developing people’s leadership began when he was the Leadership Development coordinator at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. In 2010 he founded Nuance Leadership Development Services, a company that creates leadership curricula for communities, organizations and individuals.

Summary: We have all changed someone's life without realizing it. In this short talk, Drew calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other's lives. He admonishes leaders to realize how impactful their role can be.

Takeaway: "If you change one person's understanding of [leadership], understanding of what they're capable of, understanding of how much people care about them, understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you've changed the whole thing."



2. Roselind Torres | "What it Takes to Be a Great Leader"

Roselinde Torres is a senior partner and managing director at the consulting firm, BCG. A senior leader in the firm’s "people and organization" practice area, she is also the company's resident expert on leadership, a topic she has studied her entire career.

Questions she likes to ask include, "what innovative methods can help prepare the next generation of leaders?" and "how do we enable leaders to unlearn past modes and habits of success?"

Summary: Great leaders are not head down. They see around corners and don't rely on traditional development practices that stunt true growth as a leader. In this talk, Roselinde discusses the characteristics of leaders and the practices that enable people to grow to their full potential. 

Takeaway: “Great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people that are thinking differently than you are."


3. Carol Dweck | "The Power of Believing You Can Improve"

Credentials: Dweck is a professor at Stanford and the author of Mindset, a classic work on motivation and "growth mindset." Her work is influential among educators and increasingly among business leaders as well. 

SummaryThe key is understanding what it means to have a growth mindset. It means understanding that skills, all skills, can be learned. As a manager, this means encouraging your team to learn and improve their skills, and to work with them to learn how to get better rather than avoid the weakness. 

Takeaway: “We taught [students] that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time, they can get smarter.


4. Dan Ariely | "What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?"

Credentials: Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of the bestsellers Predictably IrrationalThe Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty as well as the TED Book Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our MotivationsThrough his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, he questions the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often all behave.

SummaryIn this talk, Ariely highlights motivators that lead to employee success. The first principle is having Meaning, since people need a reason for the work they’re doing. They also want Recognition, since without recognition, they’re much less motivated and can even become discouraged. Finally, they need Ownership, because people give more value to work they can own. 

Takeaway: "What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose."


5. Kelly McGonigal | "How to Make Stress Your Friend"

: Kelly McGonigal 
Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal is a leader in the growing field of “science-help.” Through books, articles, courses and workshops, McGonigal works to help us understand and implement the latest scientific findings in psychology, neuroscience and medicine.

SummaryKelly tackles an issue familiar to many managers: chronic stress. But rather than offering advice on how to avoid it, McGonigal urges us to reframe how we think about stress to see it as an empowering force. While her TED Talk primarily looks at the positive physical effects associated with having a more positive attitude to stress, Kelly’s research encourages us to think about the idea of resilience more broadly – how coping effectively with stress can improve both personal and organizational performance. 

Takeaway: "How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience."