compare and contrast two leaders 2

This essay will compare and contrast the characteristics of two of America’s female leaders. In analysing the effectiveness of their leadership, this essay will evaluate the traits, personality, history, experience, and values of each leader. The ability to bring people together around shared beliefs and a common organisational purpose to create a sense of belonging is a prerequisite for an effective leader and will formulate the basis of defining an effective leader for the purpose of this paper.

Sarah Louise Heath Palin was named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s top leaders for 2010. As an American politician who was Governor of the state of Alaska from 2006 to July 2009 and the Republican vice presidential nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election race, Palin has established her role as a woman of stature in American political history. Palin was the second female vice presidential candidate representing a major political party and the first woman elected Governor of Alaska.

Her story has been predicated on her belief in a traditional value system for the United States of America specifically transparency and accountability in government. These ideals have actually led to her resignation twice – the only elected governor to resign all government positions before the expiration of her term as well as earlier in her career when she resigned as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a regulatory body, because she didn’t feel she was getting the necessary support from her superiors on ethics issues.

Palin’s support in the 2008 US Presidential campaign was greatly due to her appeal as a working mom, wife of a blue collar union man, and mother of five children, the eldest of whom was serving his country in a yearlong deployment in Iraq and the youngest, an infant with special needs. Reviewing her biography, Going Rogue: An American Life, one learns that she has had “a drive to help, an interest in government and current events since I was a little kid” and that in grade school she was fond of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Sarah Palin has presented strong leadership characteristics of excellent communication skills; integrity and taking ownership and responsibility. In evaluating her as an effective leader, one notes that she possesses and seems to perpetuate an agreeableness of character that allows her to get along with others; demonstrating empathy; strong social skills and friendliness. Her personification of the American Main Street woman helped to embellish her influence and persuasion thereby resulting in in ability to acquire followers.

From 1954 to present, Oprah Winfrey has proven to be one of the greatest female business leaders in American history. The Oprah Winfrey Show was nationally launched in 1986; having aired in 144 countries with 44 million US viewers each week the show ended after twenty-five years. This swiftly led to the launch of OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network. Her company, Harpo, builds brands like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Nate Berkus, master of design. In 2003, Oprah became the first African-American woman to reach billionaire status, according to Forbes Magazine.

She has broken through cultural, geographical and gender barriers whilst being listed in 2010 as having a net worth of US$2. 4 billion dollars. Not only is Oprah an influential person but she also someone who strives to see change in the world and help other people. The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation have aided tremendously to expand Winfrey’s Global humanitarian efforts that include visits to orphanages and rural schools across the world. The “Oprah Effect” has been coined as a term to describe this businesswoman and philanthropist.

Oprah Winfrey was not born into leadership but to the contrary, she brought herself to where she is today due to her determination, good will and her strength. Having lived through a very hard childhood which pushed her to her limits, but that didn’t stop her, she used that as a reason to make success and break the mould. Leadership is a process as demonstrated by the accomplishments of Oprah as she has used her television series; her network; her magazine and her brand to evaluate her life and experiences and espouse positive ideals to followers.

The development of her brand has been possible to the evolution of her belief system and business acumen. As a leader, entrepreneur and manger Oprah has demonstrated that leadership is not innate nor is it static but rather a dynamic process of evolution. One cannot deny that in evaluating her leadership style and success one notes that she has inspired a wide cross section of persons and as such is able to action and manage much change for individuals, groups and her own company and brand.

Oprah has been able to effectively lead her company and groups of followers thanks to her adaptive leadership skills; where she is constantly evaluating the potential of new options but bearing in mind the implications on her brand but also others. Oprah’s strength as a leader has resulted from her continuous intent to build networks around her and with her organisations for her own development but also for others. This has led to the development of power that is neither selfish nor for the sole purpose of attaining wealth but more so for the greater good.

One notes that Oprah’s leadership style is based on her empathy, consistency, determination and integrity all as key facets of her vision as an effective leader. Oprah has demonstrated an understanding of her followers’ reality and how they experience the world as demonstrated through her 25 years on television and subsequent philanthropic endeavours. She has consistently evolved in her approaches and management styles to encompass new information and thereby bringing together person with shared beliefs and value systems to instigate action as a direct result of this established sense of belongingness.

Oprah’s leadership style demonstrates that leadership involves interaction between the leader, the followers, and the situation. Palin has been criticised for her leadership approach as her skills do not always engender persons to neither support her nor feel that sense of belongingness to her as a leader. In a multi-faceted country such as this, one is especially expected to pay attention to the followers and their reactions to the leader and situations.

In spite of Palin’s strong Integrity and Empathy her Vision as a leader has not been able to inspire and emotionally charge followers. This would mean that Palin has been unable to empower as many people as Oprah and as such her effectiveness as a leader is paltry in comparison to Oprah. CONCLUSION Oprah has demonstrated a stronger allegiance to developing her own competitive advantage of that has utilised all of the Five Factor Model of personality to create a robust and reliable profile that has made her the more effective leader of the two women presented in this essay.

As a business woman and philanthropist, Oprah has fully incorporated her personal goals of surgency with her natural agreeableness and dependability in conjunction with her life’s experiences to adjust and learn as demonstrated by her curiosity/ learning – openness to experience.


Curphy, Gordon J. , Ginnett, Robert C. , Hughes, Richard L. LEADERSHIP Enhancing the lessons of experience 6th edition New York, McGraw-Hill American Thinker: Sarah Palin: A Leader Without A Party http://www. americanthinker. com/2009/07/sarah_palin_a_leader_without_a. html The My Hero Project – Oprah http://www. myhero. com/go/hero. asp? hero=oprahhero

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