The best part of being a student-athlete at Albertus Magnus is being able to play my favorite sport in the world: VOLLEYBALL. Our very first home game was a blast. We won in three games and the student section was HUGE! It was great to have so many people there to support us. Not only was it great winning our first home game, but it was great that we all got so pumped up and ready to play for the game. The crowd helped us out a lot, too.
I still refer to my 2011 sabbatical experience at the University of Liverpool, England, as a transformative event, a whimsical dream that actually came true. Virtually every goal I had set for myself – both professional (making a substantial contribution to what was a new research area for me) and personal (assimilating into a new culture and living environment, including meeting the needs of my family who had accompanied me) – far exceeded my expectations. Holding this experience in such high regard, trepidation and anxiety consumed my thoughts as I prepared for my return to the university this summer, almost two years since I left the United Kingdom. Would the strong bonds I had forged with people still be as powerful? Would I be as warmly welcomed as when I first arrived for my sabbatical? How much research progress could I realistically make having less than a month’s time to work? Would the level of excitement and novelty I felt living in this European city be the same? Essentially, I wondered and worried about how to relive a lifealtering situation.
My fears vanished as the plane touched down in Manchester, England. The familiarity of the airport and stepping off the train in Lime Street Station Liverpool triggered a flood of wonderful, exciting memories. Meeting my sabbatical colleagues, Andy Bates and Lesley Iwanejko, began with sincere hugs and a rather demanding query: “When are you coming back for a proper stay?” From the warm reception I was given by every companion, I subconsciously concluded that the relationships I made during that magical time two years ago were certainly meaningful and enduring.
But what was strikingly different in this return to the university was my research role. Two years ago I was a novice to the field of chemical damage to DNA, and I learned the [extremely intricate] experimental technique and machinery that was the crux of the research project – also a novel approach to this line of research – only two months before my sabbatical would end. Now, I was serving as the teacher; the post-doctoral fellow who was continuing the project I started wanted my
advice and suggestions on the experimental procedures I designed, and even insisted on using the very same solutions I had made two years ago but wistfully stored away.
Should I be so surprised by the way in which my return to Liverpool unfolded? When a relationship is built not only on a pragmatic goal to accomplish a certain task, but also involves mutual respect and admiration, how can it not sustain itself and flourish? And in our education universe, as well as other spheres of life, isn’t a hallmark of a true learning experience that the student becomes the teacher? I eagerly await future visits to what I consider to be my second “academic home” (a reference I coin from the words of an esteemed VPAA).
Please enjoy these photos from the University of Liverpool:
Dr. Patricia Compagnone-Post, an Associate Professor of Biology, joined the Albertus Magnus College faculty in 2003. She was appointed an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in 2011. The Connecticut Technology Council selected Dr. Compagnone-Post a Woman of Innovation Finalist in 2009 for her contributions to the field of academic innovation and leadership. Prior to joining the Albertus faculty she had been a research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Compagnone-Post received a B.S. degree, magna cum laude, in chemistry from Emmanuel College, a M.S. degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.
The following excerpt is derived from the forthcoming manuscript, “Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership,” which is being written by Dr. Howard Fero and his colleague, Dr. Rebecca Herman. The work is based on more than 100 interviews, conducted with current and former Major League Baseball players and managers. To follow their progress, their research, and to discuss baseball and leadership, please ‘like’ their Facebook page.
“I don’t care how long you’ve been in this game or what kind of success you’ve had in this game; every day you have to gain their trust, and every day you have to gain their respect.”
Davey Johnson, as Manager of the Washington Nationals
Respect … it is hard to hear or read that word without a vision of Aretha Franklin belting it out; it is something that we all seem to crave and sometimes wonder if we will ever earn enough of it. As Aretha said, we need to “find out what it means to me,” and to us, even more significant, is finding out what it means to the organization or team as a whole. How does a manager having the respect of his players impact their commitment and play? How does a player having the respect of his manager impact the team? And how does respecting your organization impact the work that you do? Rodney Dangerfield spent his career proclaiming, “I get no respect,” and as you read ahead, think about the respect you get, the respect you give, and the impact it has on the players in your life.
RESPECT THE POSITION
There is a basic notion when discussing leadership that people follow others who have power. This concept, however, needs a little explanation in that power does not and should not come from a people’s positions alone, but should come from who they are and what they do. The power should come from the person, not the position. It’s true, as Ned Yost, manager of the KC Royals pointed out, “when you become a manager, right off the bat you garner respect because you’re a manager.” This is the positional power we mentioned above, and a power that many people throughout the world rely upon. This type of power, however, only goes so far. As Yost continues, “you’ve got to earn that ‘respect’ every single day.” We may get a person’s respect from our position initially, but we will either keep it or lose it depending on our actions once we are there. Following a leader or a manager solely because one is in charge will take us far enough to avoid getting reprimanded or far enough to do a good job. Following people because we respect them and what they stand for will bring us to levels of performance that will lead to greater personal and in turn greater organizational success.
THE RIGHT FIT
What’s important to point out in regard to respecting the manager (or for that matter, respecting the players, the team, or the game in general) is that the first step in cultivating a culture of respect is putting together a team comprised of people with not only the ability to hit a ball, make a play, or throw strikes, but a team of people with a moral compass, a team of people who have drive and character, a team of people who want to be there and will do what is necessary to support the team as a whole. Talent is important, but fit is vital. We as leaders need to, as Jim Collins points out, “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats” (Collins, 2001).
The task of cultivating the respect of his players, as a Major League manager must do, is not any different from earning the respect of an employee or a colleague in any organization, so how does one do this? Well, to borrow a line from the Smith Barney commercials and John Houseman from the 1980s, “he earns it!” Sean Burroughs, who we spoke to when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins, pointed to honesty and openness as two of the things which lead him to respecting his managers. A manager needs to be honest with his players about their position on the team, what is expected to them, and what they need to do to succeed. They need to be “true to their word, and true to what they preach.” As infielder Eric Hosner of the Kansas City Royals told us, “the players notice that, and then ‘they’ gain a lot more respect.”
A CULTURE OF RESPECT
Having respect for the manager, having a manager who respects his or her people, having respect for the organization you work for, and having a respect for what you as an individual are doing…these ingredients together are what will bring out the best from the individual and in turn from the organization as a whole. A culture of respect will lead to success on and off the field, in and out of the workplace, and with all those who see the individual and who he or she represents.
Dr. Howard Fero with Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson.
Howard C. Fero, Ph.D.
The Leadership Doc
Director, Graduate Leadership Programs
Associate Professor of Business and Leadership
Albertus Magnus College
Dr. Howard Fero, is an Associate Professor of Business and Leadership and the Director of Graduate Leadership programs at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes and overseeing the Leadership programs at Albertus Dr. Fero uses his expertise to help individuals and organizations achieve optimal performance and effectiveness as The Leadership Doc. Dr. Fero will be blogging about different leadership topics throughout the year and speaks about these topics in his classes in the Master of and Arts in Leadership Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership Programs. He welcomes your comments and looks forward to communicating with you in our exciting new blog.