10 TED Talks on Leadership Every MBA Student Should Watch

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Students who choose to pursue an MBA are already preparing for higher career aspirations. An MBA helps them hone skills and gather a deeper academic preparation that is all but guaranteed to help them along their professional path. MBA students will most likely become leaders within a department, business, or field in which they work. In today’s world, the ability to lead is an invaluable trait.

Students who are motivated to do so, can tune into TED Talks for learning sessions that are often on par with MBA curriculum. Benefits include listening to innovative business leaders discuss leadership strategies, offer advice, and describe the methods they have discovered through personal experience.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Facebook COO

Sheryl Sandberg offers three messages to women that can help regain gender balance in the workforce. There is positional inequality at the executive level. Woman can play a key role in changing that dynamic. Sandberg’s messages include asking women to treat themselves fairly, to be real partners, and to persevere and not quit before it’s time to quit.

MBA students—women and men alike—would benefit from this TED Talk by hearing Sandberg’s personal experiences. Through the talk, listeners can increase their awareness about how widespread workplace gender inequality is, and learn how to lead in places where the gender odds are not in their favor.

Jim Hemerling: 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change

Organizational Change Expert and Senior Partner of Boston Consulting Group

In this TED Talk, Jim Hemerling discusses how to adapt a company’s leadership to fit with an ever-transforming environment. Self-change is usually met with positivity and energy, but change in the workplace has been associated with layoffs and restructuring. Through his five methods, companies can transform themselves by using inspiration, initiation, enabling, education, and inclusion.

MBA students can learn how to institute and lead transformative change with positivity and energy. Going forward, it will be the newer generation of leaders and MBAs who define company change.

Dr. Leila Hoteit: 3 lessons on success from an Arab businesswoman

Women’s Advocate and Managing Director at Boston Consulting Group

Dr. Hoteit has an incredible story of success involving how to thrive in a workplace that is stacked against you. Now dedicated to helping others through her experiences, she offers three lessons that are geared toward overcoming obstacles such as people and culture, and growing to become the type of leader that can rise above negativity.

MBA students will appreciate this TED Talk as Dr. Hoteit reinforces her views about not letting others dictate your attitude, keeping life and work separate, and working together to achieve goals instead of competing. Leaders lift people up; they don’t knock them down.

Simon Sineck: How great leaders inspire action

Leadership Expert

Simon Sineck dives into what separates good leaders from great leaders, and why only some inspire true action while others deliver white noise. This is an important TED Talk for MBA students who want to set themselves apart and understand how to reach people.

Using his “Golden Circle,” he shows how most people in business think in the order of ‘what, how, and why’ as they develop a business model and idea to sell. Leaders, however, begin with the ‘why.’ They let the ‘how’ and ‘what’ follow after. Mr. Sineck points out that this way of thinking is not just his opinion, but is a proven method borne out through real-world examples.

Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: Power of Passion and Perseverance


Angela Duckworth dedicates her TED Talk to the importance of ‘grit’ as a personal attribute. In order to be a great leader, there are certain tasks that cannot be avoided, and should be met with passion and perseverance. She preaches that a dedication to hard work and long-term goals, over ideas and intelligence, are key in people who desire to succeed.

She implies that leadership isn’t gained without success, and success comes from a mindset of growth. Those who know that failure isn’t permanent, will lead by example and inspire others to never stop.

Tim Leberecht: 4 ways to build a human company in an age of machines

Business Romantic in Silicon Valley and Author

Keeping organizations human means keeping them beautiful, according to Tim Leberecht. He provides a method to help leaders maintain ‘beauty’ in their organizations. His four principles include: doing the unnecessary, creating intimacy, being real and ugly, and never becoming stagnant.

MBA students can learn that in today’s technology-intensive word, the human component is irreplaceable and integral to organizations that seek to succeed.

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Social Psychologist

MBA students have the opportunity to become ‘body language intelligent’ after just a few minutes with Amy Cuddy and her TED Talk. The premise is that leaders don’t just think or act a certain way; they physically look a certain way. According to Amy, not only do others pick up on non-verbal signals, but they are influenced by them.

Body language is an important element in personal relationships. Leaders are often physically distinguished through their body stance. They usually don’t adopt low-energy body positions, which can affect their own mindset and those of others.

Bill Gross: Single biggest reason start-ups succeed

Founder of Idealab

Bill Gross keeps it simple when finding the biggest reason start-ups succeed. MBA students can benefit from studying start-ups that became leaders in their industry, and those that came up short. Bill’s TED Talk focuses on his five essential elements of success, which are: idea, team, business model, funding, and timing.

After combing through research on start-ups and comparing his factors against one another, Gross discovers that ‘timing’ may be the largest reason that new businesses succeed. Leaders need to be cognizant of timing; asking such questions as when will a service or product be accepted and have the best potential to make a societal impact.

Ian Bremmer: How the US should use its superpower status

President and Found of Eurasia Group

While the title of this TED Talk may not seem to relate to MBA students, more can be learned than just paying attention to the surface discussion. Ian discusses how the US is perceived globally, what has changed for America and the world, and how this change can continue into the future. It’s important to note that historically, the US has been seen as a leader in the world due largely to its actions.

Leaders lead by example and reach goals through action, as does the United States. MBA students can draw correlations between America’s performance and themselves, and can choose to lead by example when they want to lead.

Richard St. John: 8 secrets to success

Marketer, Success Analyst

After spending seven years interviewing 500 successful leaders, Richard St. John discusses the secrets to success. He found through his interviews that virtues such as passion, focus, persistence, and service will lead most to find success.

MBA students who are passionate about becoming leaders will have to earn that status by first achieving some measure of real-world success. According to Mr. St. John, this will happen only when leaders embrace the previously mentioned virtues that have been proven to inspire positivity and hard work.


TED Talks are wonderful sources of inspiration, education, and knowledge. Those individual who deliver TED Talks have themselves become leaders at disseminating innovative ideas and starting relevant conversation that result in deeper thinking. As MBA students advance through their studies, they will discover that some of the most valuable knowledge may be gained through extra-curricular research and personal passion. MBA students who wish to become leaders need to equip themselves with all of the tools and skills they can attain.

Learn More

Our online MBA program at New Jersey Institute of Technology is designed to prepare motivated, tech-savvy management professionals with the business expertise and technical knowledge vital for success in today’s rapidly evolving global business landscape.

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http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders?language=en https://www.ted.com/talks/jim_hemerling_5_ways_to_lead_in_an_era_of_constant_change https://www.ted.com/talks/leila_hoteit_3_lessons_on_success_from_an_arab_businesswoman http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gross_the_single_biggest_reason_why_startups_succeed https://www.ted.com/talks/ian_bremmer_how_the_us_should_use_its_superpower_status https://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success?language=en https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization