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An Analysis of the Life of Ted Turner Essay

Leadership is one of the critical factors to success that is hard to define and even understand. There are several approaches that have been taken to try and develop an understanding of leadership and place into context requirement of a great leader but most appear to be lacking due to the implications of leadership (Burns 5). Leadership is a wide subject that involves considerations on a number of factors that play an important part in determining the levels of efficiency that leaders attain in managing their subjects.

Controversy is only be found in the definition of leadership though what is expected of leaders and the importance of leadership in management of not just people but also resources and success is a generally accepted principle (Goleman and Boyatzis 14). Analysis of the life of Ted Turner to determine the relevance of his actions, personality and development to the theoretical principles of leadership developed by this paper seeks to develop a better understanding of leadership (Schonfeld 23).

Development of leadership traits has always been at the centre of controversy surroundings leadership which is considered by some as a science that can be learned while others are of the school of thought that it is

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an art that one is born and prefects with application of the inborn skill in practical situations (Schonfeld 23). This controversy is brought out considering the early life of Ted Warner who was born in Ohio just before the second world war and moved to Atlanta Georgia in 1947 when he was nine (Schonfeld 20). Turner construction mission statement

Young Warner graduated from McCallie School where he had earned a nickname of ‘Terrible Ted’ as many considered his personality abnormal. His father was in the Billboard business though he later shot himself to death after his business had gone down in debt. Turner was later expelled out of Brown University after he was found in his room with a woman. An analysis of the experienced that young Turner went through his early life and his nature presents conflicting images of his innate and learned abilities with respect to leadership.

The fact that his parents ran a personal business could as well be reflective of a family that has leadership trait. This also explains the active involvement of Ted Warner in debating while in college. On the other hand, there are actions in his early childhood that are reflective of one who is incapable of attaining the levels of success and influence that Ted Warner has had on lives. While having a nickname could be a reflection of one’s popularity, ‘Terrible Ted’ does not inspire a positive perception of what others think of an individual.

Moreover, his expulsion resultant of flawing university regulations regarding women in male’s hostels is a reflection of a youth that is an appreciative of set regulation. This is a trait not expected of leaders for they lead with the aid of developed systems and if they are the first to flaw the rules then they fail in inspiring their subjects (Northouse 69). The failure of Ted’s dad business also brings about the possibility that the family has poor leadership skills or it could be a manifestation of lack of professional skills and experience in harnessing the environment.

Determination of whether leadership skills that a leader displays are inborn traits or experiences that he has in success and failure in numerous business setting cannot be developed from consideration on his early life. It is however clear that there is the possibility that leadership is an inherited trait that has been molded and recreated with experience to develop the modern day Ted Turner. An important requirement for leaders is that they should display determination to achieve.

It is important to note that leadership in any setting is concerned with the development of motivation to achieve set objectives. According to Bass and Riggio (21), leaders have to be internally motivated to be able to motivate others into seeking set objectives and this appears to be one of Ted Warner’s strong points. Despite the perception that he would fail like his father in carrying on the family business, he managed to stay focused and develop the business as he sought opportunities for diversification.

An important aspect of this phenomenon is that though Turner was inexperienced and was a college drop out he believed that the could turn around the mess that his father had made out of his business; this is the motivation that is behind Ted Turner’s multi billion worth (Kouzes and Posner 67). Though there is a lot that can be said of the approaches that Ted Turner has over the years used in leadership none can define his approach better than transformational.

There is no doubt that he must have been applying good business principle and proper management tactics to turn the performance of his father Billboard business and amass enough funds to be able to take over Atlanta’s channel 17 in the early 1970s (Auletta 17). The channel which was constantly rated last among the four stations operating in Atlanta due to its minimal news coverage and lack of original programming soon got a face lift and in a period of less than three years after Turner’s takeover in 1970 the station started making profit (Auletta 56).

Transformation of the station as its head from poor performance to success points to the fact that his approaches to leadership aim at efficiency thus high levels of performance. This transformation aspect is brought out more clearly if it is considered that Ted Warner was central to TBS being among the first television stations to attain nationwide coverage. The station which was based on reruns and movies soon developed to be a hub for advertisements which played an important part in boosting its revenue ratings (Auletta 72).

The levels of change that TBS managed to attain under the leadership of Ted Warner are a reflection of an approach that is guided by high levels of motivation and an approach that seeks to ensure efficiency. To be able to effectively manage the change that TBS underwent the leader must have been highly visible in the efforts to ensure this transformation and the transformation must have been aided by a greater vision. Transformation is only for visionaries who dare to dream and seek their dreams; this basically summarizes Ted Warner.

One of the notable features of the strategies that Ted Warner has over the years used is their general tendency to development of his reputation. The development of the Turner name appears to be the vision that Turner sought from the very start. Though a psychological analysis may attribute this phenomenon on his upbringing in that it can be concluded that he is unconscious trying to deal with the funny nickname he had in school or the effect that failure of his father in business had on his personal and other’s view of the Turners name, he has done a great deal in developing a good reputation in various business segments.

Though there were the tough times like the failure of a planned takeover of CBS and considerable sum that he had to pay to MGM (Auletta 88), many are of the view that the resilience that he portrayed and the ability to redevelop himself played an important part in ensuring the name Turner always was prominent in the entertainment industry. The development that have been central to the reputation that Turner has in the entertainment industry were a result of what appears to be well coordinated development that sought to ensure the development of the Turner name through success and more recently addressing the plight of people in need.

Reputation in both management and leadership plays an important part in determining the contribution and therefore motivation that leaders will develop in their subjects (Harari 34). Reputation can work for the good or be a point of failure of a leader depending on the condition that he is in and the approaches that define his behavior (Koestenbaum 56). A look at the approaches that Ted Warner has over the years used in developing a reputation shows high levels of dynamism.

This is an important aspect of leadership in that leaders should be relevant to the situation they are in and Ted Warner has perfected this art (Harari 37). In the mid 1970s when baseball was every American’s addiction and game days were like a national event, Turner turned to be the savior of the Atlanta Braves from the brink of failure and redeveloped the teams as it went ahead to win a couple of World series (Hack and Brick 32).

This appears to have been a well calculated move considering the close correlation that sports and media has to developing a name for himself and TBS in Atlanta. The result is clearly visible in the levels of popularity that the station gained not only in Atlanta but also in the US. The rapid development of the media in the eighties and the need to cover global events with increase in awareness on issues relating to the Middle East and America’s involvement in them was an opportunity that played an important part in Turner being considered one of the greatest leaders in America’s media.

The birth of CNN and its subsequent development into the leading cable television established the name Tuner and subsequent development which include TNT, Time Warner, E Entertainment and Comedy central have just been developments that sought to cement the name Turner within the entertainment, fashion and moving pictures segment of the media industry (Parsons 78). A complete change in the strategy that Ted Warner employs in developing his name has been experienced in the recent past. Development in humankind has led to an increase in awareness on the levels of suffering that some people go through (March and Weil 58).

There has been an increase in ethical concerns and the need for the developed nations, entities and individuals to come at the aid of those that are not in position to meet their needs. In late 1990s, Turner pledged to donate one third of his fortune to the UN which led to the formation of the United Nations foundation and he has also been a recipient of a number of prestigious award towards humanitarian and environmental causes (Schonfeld 89). Though the causes can be traced back to his childhood when he grew grass in his house, they have played a great part in developing a reputation for Turner across the globe (Schonfeld 91).

It is evident from analysis of the known and documented experiences of Ted Warner that leadership is a complex issue that is not easily understood. The development of leaders is not determinable through the manifestation of good leadership which include high levels of motivation, appreciation by the subject, the ability to redevelop strategies and commitment to achievement of a cause are clearly visible in the life of one of the greatest success stories of the present generation.

Leadership involves failure, success, redefinition and self belief that lead to experiences and skills that are critical to motivating others towards achievement of set goals.

Work Cited Auletta, Ken. Media man: Ted Turner’s improbable empire. New York, NY: Norton, 2004. Bass, Bernard and Riggio, Ronald. Transformational leaders. London: Routledge, 2006. Burns, James. Transforming Leadership: The Pursuit of Happiness. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003. Goleman, Daniel and Boyatzis, Richard.

Primal leadership: learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2004. Hack, Richard and Brick, Scott. Clash of the Titans: How the Unbridled Ambition of Ted Turner & Rupert Murdoch Has Created Global Empires That Control What We Read And Watch. Piscataway, NJ: New Millennium Audio, 2003. Harari, Oren. The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Koestenbaum, Peter. Leadership: the inner side of greatness : a philosophy for leaders.

New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2002. Kouzes, James and Posner, Barry. The Leadership Challenge. Boston, MA: Jossey-Bass, 2002. March, James and Weil, Thierry. On leadership. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005. Northouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Boca Raton, FL: Sage, 2006. Parsons, Patrick. Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2008 Schonfeld, Reese. Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

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