A broadcaster, actress, host, philanthropist, and a business woman; Oprah had really made her name on top of the list of most celebrated, most idolized, most honored, and most successful people who touched and inspired other people through their exceptional deeds (Garson, 2004). Oprah was from Mississippi. She grew up in a farm and was raised by her grandmother. She was asked by her grandmother to read aloud and do recitations when she was just three years old. When she was six, she moved and lived with her mother in Milwaukee where she was abused and molested. When she turned thirteen, she left home.
Eventually, she was sent to his father in Nashville. Though she was treated by his father with strict discipline, she said that such experience gave her so many lessons in life; and that she learned to be always at her best (Garson, 2004). Her early broadcasting career started when she was seventeen at WVOL radio. Afterwards, she worked at WTVF-TV as an anchor. In 1978, she served as news reporter and anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. Her stardom premiered in 1984 when she became the host of AM Chicago which was in 1985 reformatted, expanded and renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show (Oprah Winfrey, 2006).
In less than a year, her show became the most watched talk show in U. S. Since then, the talk show and the Oprah herself have been receiving awards and recognitions for television shows. In 1987, her show was hailed as the Outstanding Talk/Service Program and she was awarded as the Outstanding Host by Daytime Emmy Awards. In 1987, Oprah and her show got the same awards. She received the Broadcaster of the Year Award by the International Radio and Television Society and was labeled as the youngest person ever to have such honor (Westen, 2005).
Yet, before she entered in broadcasting, she first starred in several films like The Color Purple, where she got an Oscar and Golden globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress; and Native Son from a classic novel by Richard Wrights (Oprah Winfrey, 2006). Oprah as Business Leader In September 1986, Oprah entered the business industry and started producing her own talk show. Because of her outstanding character and personality, her shows were widely watched and patronized by national viewers claiming that Oprahs shows are high quality entertainment.
When her popularity and success reached its climax, she decided to establish her own production company in 1986 which she named HARPO Productions Inc. (a reversed form of her name Oprah) (Archambeau, 2006). To this day, HARPO Productions are one of the most formidable institutions in film and television. She was hailed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people of the 20th century and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Lowe, 2001). She established her own publishing industry which opened the Oprah Book Club (Lowe, 2001).
She established a partnership in Oxygen Media, Inc. and formed Oprah Angel Network which is one of her many philanthropic programs. In 2003, Forbes magazine declared Oprah as the first African-American to become a billionaire. At present, Oprah has also a magazine named the O (Oprah) Magazine (Garson, 2004). Participation The announcement of HARPO Productions, Inc. regarding the ownership and all productions rights for the Oprah Winfrey Show from Capital Cities in October 1988 marked in television history (Archambeau, 2006).. This made Oprah the first woman in television history to possess and make her own talk show.
Though Oprah is a talk show host, which is expected to deal with exposing top secrets, she never talks about the success of her own business (Lowe, 2001). She follows what her contemporaries do that is by not discussing anything about her business operations. As mentioned earlier, she is a billionaire and is deemed as the richest woman in U. S. Yet she never let such success go to her head (Oprah Winfrey, 2006). She remained humble and soft-hearted person that she is ever since she started. According to a report, HARPO Productions revenue is about 39 million (Archambeau, 2006).
Oprahs work attitude towards her employees is commendable in a sense that she treats them as if they are her own family which makes her business style different and distinct from other businesses. She is a very good sales manager (Archambeau, 2006). Her fame is the chief key that she used to market her business. She manages her company through competent employees who oversee the day to day events. These employees, who are treated as family, keep her appraised of the smallest details thereby solidifying her control and overall success.
Leadership Traditionally, when celebrities establish their own businesses, they are usually not involved in the daily decisions. What they do is that they transfer the management of their business to someone and make very little contributions in the running of it. (Oprah Winfrey, 2006). But Oprah does not follow that trend. She is very active and very hands on when it comes to her business. She manages every little thing that concerns her business and she is very particular with the things that she does especially when it comes to her business.
She knows where the companys money is going and where it is from. She argues that she feels more secured and more confident when she is directly involved and participated in the business process. And she believed that by continuing such attitude, her business would keep on hitting its goals towards success. Oprah is the Chairman and CEO of the HARPO Productions (Archambeau, 2006). Though she has very involved with the companys operations, she has to have someone whom she can entrust the whole business when she is not available.
So she hired Jeff Jacobs and made him the President and Chief Operating Officer of the HARPO Productions (Archambeau, 2006). HARPO Productions have eighty-six full-time employees who work in Chicago, the home base of HARPO (Archambeau, 2006). She manages her employees by employing a small size of top management team which has a direct span of control over particular employees. She has even improved her working relationship and work attitude towards her subordinates. She believes that when the employer is good onto her subordinates, they will also be good in return (Lowe, 2001).
Development The largest part of the HARPO Productions revenue is derived from King World Productions which is responsible for the distribution of Oprahs shows to over 200 television stations across U. S and other 34 foreign states (Garson, 2004). Her successful shows generate $180 million earnings per year. HARPO Productions over all profits ranges from $39- 40 million annually (Oprah Winfrey, 2006). In a report, it is said that if Oprahs personal value would be given a prize, it would be more or less $350 million (Westen, 2005).
The reason is not because of her success in business or whatsoever but primarily due to her good character, and significant influence not only in America but all over the world. Her charitable programs and institutions greatly serve the less-fortunate people, especially for the children. As part of her philanthropic activities, she had already established schools for children, and had campaigned for the rights and welfare of the worlds most marginalized and unfortunate peoples (Garson, 2004). Transformation Leadership is the ability to influence other people (Archambeau, 2006).
Yet leadership has different forms and styles. However, the most important thing in leadership is the concept of how well others accept ones leadership and how one maintains good leadership. Oprahs leadership is truly admirable and praiseworthy in a sense that even if she have almost everything in life, she does not forget to look upon other people who need her help. People adore her and love for all that she is doing to help other people who are baldy in need of support. In effect, she is able to inspire other people to help those less fortunate people.
Motivation serves a very important role not only to make other people work or do their function but also to make them realize how they are able to live their lives so far (Archambeau, 2006). Oprah has been very good in motivating people not only those who watch her shows, or those who are helped and benefited by her charitable programs, but also the people that she has in her business. As mentioned earlier, she treats her employees as if they are her family. Such behavior could really motivate her employees to improve their work and make them more loyal to the management (Oprah Winfrey, 2006).
The success of Oprah with regards to her business and entertainment industry proves her principle: If you are good, you will be treated well (Lowe, 2001). If a leader proves to others that he deserves to be followed then her subordinates would follow and accept him as one. Furthermore, the success of the business does not depend solely on the status of the leader or the high profits that the company is receiving but on the working relationship between the management and the employees.
Conclusion Though Oprah Winfrey has almost achieved every little thing that she wants, she still regards her self as a person whose mission is not merely to influence other people but to do good to them. Such attitude becomes one of her effective mechanisms in dealing with her business, especially with her subordinates. She emphasizes that companies and corporations should not only focus their activities on gaining profits and earning money but they should also serve for the benefit of the society as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.