There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about how to best lead a team. “Fake it ’til you make it” … “Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know”… “Don’t be too chummy with your reports.”

Every manager has their own style and every team its unique challenges, but there are universals that can guide you toward being a more effective leader, no matter your industry. Whether you’re a seasoned team leader or have just been promoted to your first management position, check out these inspiring TED Talks with advice for becoming the best boss you can be and help cut through the noise to find the truly helpful advice.


Drew Dudley – Everyday Leadership

The takeaway: Own Your Title



“Who am I to lead?” Who are you not to lead? That is the key thesis to Drew Dudley’s TED Talk. He believes your first act as manager should be casting aside any signs of “imposter syndrome.” Dudley emphasizes that the business world, especially tech, spends a lot of time idolizing people who achieve what very few leaders actually can. So impressive leadership can feel like some far-off goal that you’ll never be worthy of. Dudley believes leadership isn’t just about changing the world; it’s about the everyday influence you have on your company, your team and your individual coworkers.


Emilie Wapnick – Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling

The takeaway: Ask people not to check their passions at the door



Emilie Wapnick introduces the idea of a “multipotentialite,” someone with diverse interests and many creative pursuits. She defines multipotentialites as rapid learners who adapt quickly and apply learnings from their different interest areas to innovate. “The notion of the narrowly focused life is highly romanticized in our culture. It’s this idea of destiny or the one true calling,” says Wapnick. Her suggestion? If you want an innovative team and happy employees, make room for people to pursue their diverse interests and then find ways for those passions to inspire their work inside the office.


Dan Pink – The Puzzle of Motivation

The takeaway: Don’t assume money is the best motivator



Much of the business world is built around the idea that you can get employees to perform better by offering them financial incentives: bonuses, raises, commission, etc. But Dan Pink lets you in on his little secret in this TED Talk: for most of the work we do today, that strategy doesn’t work. For mechanical tasks, such as an assembly line job, sure he says “people can be motivated to sort faster for a cash bonus.” But for cognitive jobs -tasks that require creativity, problem solving or innovation- cash incentives never work. He cites industry reports that they actually make people perform worse. Pink stresses “be sure that the incentives you and your department embrace are actually helping you get to your end goal, and leave time and space for passion to be the true driver of creative and cognitive tasks for your team.”


Margaret Heffernan – Forget the Pecking Order at Work

The takeaway: Throw hierarchy out the window



Margaret Heffernan admits she loves science. For this TED Talk she cites evolutionary biology, which shows that extremely Darwinian business environments full of only star players and top performers actually create such fierce competition that innovation and collaboration can’t happen. Clearly, that’s not what you want for your team. To prevent your top performers from fighting each other to the death like The Hunger Games, adopt the mindset that everyone has value, no matter their rank. Heffernan says to “encourage collaboration, give everyone a chance to speak and make sure that everyone knows that his or her perspective is valued.”