21st Century Leaders

Have you seen the “news” lately? If so, then you have been inundated with images of people needing our help. Lately, we have witnessed a conflagration of serious ethical conundrums. We are constantly seeing local officials flailing during important press conferences, national politicians trying to explain why they continue failing to serve the best interests of the American people, a cantankerous NBA sports team owner who continues to dig his family further into an inescapable abyss of wretched behavior, and we also see how preventable violence in our beloved Nutmeg state continues to weigh down the strong moral fabric which once existed in our neighborhoods. All of this is enough to make us ask two questions.

Where are the role models?

Why don’t we have ethics in our culture anymore?

_U7C6625Well, thankfully, these two difficult questions have very easy answers! In fact, just this past month we saw firsthand how our College’s role models successfully matriculated through the vibrant leadership program. During our most recent round of Capstone presentations, six graduate students put on full display how they are changing our communities for the better.

Jerica Ortiz and Keshia Tigner presented an exciting program titled Stir Up the Gifts Arts Academy. The academy empowers volunteers to serve as teachers who will train our adolescents to find their voices through meaningful arts and civic curriculums.

Rey Ali, Mike Donegan and Kevin Glenn developed a ready-to-use curriculum for newly-hired and seasoned employees who are interested in developing a sound culture within the workplace. Their Leadership Through Emersion course gives companies the ability to build upon the foundation of their leadership corps from the ground up, instead of from the top down. This new pedagogical method ensures that employees recognize that they are true leaders, no matter the current rank they may hold within an organization’s hierarchy.

Fr. Santhosh Syriac gave us all a glimpse into what he is developing for his community in India. Through the spirit of “Anugraha” [grace] he is changing the culture of his homeland one convalescent home at a time. Fr. Syriac and his peers recognize that the old ways of taking care of India’s expanding elderly population need real progressive change. By challenging current methodologies and cultivating healthcare officials, he has brought out the best core values that are taught at Albertus Magnus College.

These six impressive scholars took the theories they learned from their Master of Arts in Leadership courses and put those lessons into praxis. Their willingness to take part in the Capstone exercise afforded them the ability to affect positive social change in our universe, while simultaneously becoming the ethical leaders we all hope to see portrayed in nightly news stories. Our community is in a much better place, because these students unselfishly “shared the fruits of their contemplation’s” with our world.

The great Mahatma Gandhi said quite simply “Be the change you want to see in the world!” It is in that spirit that I salute these six students who made sacrifices so that we could witness true servant leadership in the making. We are all better people due to the work these scholars have put forward for the benefit of others. It is indeed my honor to know them and to call them tremendous colleagues!

karreem-mebaneKarreem Mebane, MAR
Philosophy And Religion Lecturer

Cultivating Exemplary Leadership Part Two

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

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).

EARN IT

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.

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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. Huntitled2oward 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.

Cultivating Exemplary Leadership (Part One)

In my talks on leadership I often incorporate quotes as they are a great way to understand and learn from the perspectives of scholars, practitioners, and ordinary people who all have opinions on what it takes to be an effective leader.  For this first blog based on a recent workshop I conducted for the  Connecticut Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, I will dissect a definition of leadership penned by leadership scholar Warren Bennis, and challenge you along the way to think about how Bennis’s definition can be applied as you cultivate your personal exemplary leadership.  For more insights please watch the accompanying short clip.

Bennis says…

Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize your own leadership potential.

Knowing yourself.  This seems like a rather simple concept, and in actuality, it is.  In order to be an effective leader we need to know who we are.  We need to know our strengths, and just as importantly (maybe more), we need to know our weaknesses.  Leadership guru Peter Drucker, in a classic Harvard Business Review article titled Managing Oneself, discusses this concept eloquently.  He points to the many ways that people ‘get things done’, and the many ways that people are held back from doing so.  Leaders need to understand, in my opinion that they can’t do everything on their own, and they need to organize a team that has people to complement their skills and abilities.

Vision.  As Bennis states, we need to have a vision that is well communicated.  Every successful organization has a vision of where it wants to be and has a team of executives who work to communicate that vision to their people.  We need to remember again that leadership is not about position, and it isn’t only the CEO of the company or the captain of the team who leads the group, everyone needs to act as a leader, and as I discussed in a previous post, it is everyone who needs to model ‘leader-like’ behaviors to those around them.  This is why it is so important that the vision of the organization and the vision of those who are formal leaders are communicated to everyone.  Without the vision being communicated effectively it will not be lived by all those who need to model it.

Trust.  Building trust among colleagues.  This is a blog in and of itself (and will be in the future.)  Researchers, scholars, and authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, whose groundbreaking work became The Leadership Challenge, identified trust as one of the keys to positive outcomes for leaders.  Think about the many traits that leaders must exhibit in order to be successful, and then think about what would happen if they exhibited all these great traits and behaviors, but they didn’t have the trust of those around them.  What would happen?  More importantly, what wouldn’t happen?  Well, chances are that you wouldn’t follow for long, right?   In order for a leader to most effectively lead his or her team there needs to be mutual trust between leader and follower.  If you don’t have a relationship built on trust you may follow a leader for a while, but eventually you will stop.  If you have trust the relationship will continue and will be mutually beneficial.

Leadership Potential.  So, how do we, as Warren Bennis says, take effective action to realize our leadership potential.  To me, this is the easy part, sign up for either the Master of Arts in Leadership or Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership at Albertus Magnus College.   These are two great ways to take action to realize your leadership potential.  Other ways we can realize our potential are by simply buying a book on leadership or on any topic we are interested in and want to learn about.  We can also sign up for a class or workshop, watch a documentary, serve on a board, help a nonprofit, or do just about anything that we will find fulfilling and help us grow.  In order to realize our potential we must (once again), know our self, and become the best at being our self.  There are many great ways to realize our leadership potential, but I have to admit, my favorite is still signing up for a degree program at Albertus Magnus College.

I hope you enjoyed the short introductory video from my workshop and over the next several months please check back here at the Albertus Magnus Blog for more insights on leadership from me as well as the distinguished faculty, students, and alumni of the Albertus Leadership Programs.  As always, I invite you to please respond to this post with your comments, examples, and insights, and also email me with any questions or insights you have!

Howard C. Fero, Ph.D.
The Leadership Doc
Director, Graduate Leadership Programs
Associate Professor of Business and Leadership
Albertus Magnus College

Howard FeroDr. 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 Arts in Leadership and 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.