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.

The Concept of Servant Leadership

In 1955 the Los Angeles Police Department adopted the motto “To Protect and to Serve.” The long standing mission statement of the Orange Police Department has been, “To protect life and property and to serve the public, always with integrity and professionalism, striving to achieve an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust and cooperation.” What does it mean to serve, and what part does leadership play in this notion?

The concept of servant leadership is one that I firmly believe is the true essence of leadership. Simply put, servant leadership means to meet the legitimate needs of those whom you are leading. This does not mean that a leader should try to make everyone happy by attempting to grant their every wish. What it does mean is that leaders need to serve and sacrifice for others, making the legitimate needs of others a priority that is put above all else. There has been a general deterioration in American society of leadership principles and concepts, with a corresponding lack of responsibility on the part of many of our country’s leaders. The media has been full of stories about leadership failures in all segments of society: parental, community, religious, corporate, and public service. While there are still many leaders that members of society can look up to, the failures in leadership are foremost in the minds of the general public. Leaders at all levels need to put aside their personal ambitions and self-serving ways; and in doing so, they can build the respect, trust and cooperation that is so crucial to effective leadership. It is in doing for others that we gain their loyalty and increase our ability to influence. When you consider the greatest leaders in history, those who come to mind are those who have served and sacrificed for others: Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, to name just a few. This formula for successful leadership is simple, yet highly effective. It truly is in giving that we ultimately receive.

The concept of servant leadership is one that we strongly believe in at the Orange Police Department. Our supervisors have been familiarized with this concept, and are held to the highest standards as they lead our officers. In turn, we hold our officers to the highest standards, encouraging them to put the needs of the public first, as we perform our public service. In doing so, we work to build the mutual respect, trust and cooperation called for in our mission statement.

The successful future of our society is incumbent upon the enormous responsibility that is entrusted to our leaders to create an environment in each of their respective areas of influence that puts the greater good above individual aspirations. By creating these environments, we foster the positive development of future generations, thus giving our lives meaning and purpose. When we choose to put others first, we build influence with them that results in the cooperation that needs to exist in order to achieve the accomplishment of our lofty goals.



gagne Robert J. Gagne has over thirty-five years of law enforcement experience with the Orange Police Department and has been the Chief of Police for the Department since 2006. He is a 2012 graduate of the Master of Arts in Leadership program at Albertus Magnus College. He is a member of the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and as past President of the South Central Chiefs of Police Association.

What Should Leaders Do About Conflict?

Kevin Nash, PhD

Conflict is natural and necessary and it has the potential to be beneficial or destructive. An important role of organizational and community leaders is to leverage conflict towards productive ends. When effectively managed, conflict has the potential to promote individual and professional development and enhance performance outcomes.

Unresolved conflict, on the other hand, has the potential to damage relationships and  disrupt the work environment, depress teamwork, lower morale and increase stress. Left unresolved, conflict can poison the atmosphere and thereby negatively affect people who are not directly involved.

How we understand, approach, and manage our own conflicts and facilitate the resolution of conflicts among others is critical to being an effective and ethical leader. Effective leaders understand the sources and types of conflict that arise among individuals, groups, and organizations, and are aware of their own communication and conflict management style.

Here are some suggestions for what a leader can do about managing conflict effectively:

  • Be alert for conflict in the organization and recognize the sources and types of conflict among individuals and groups.
  • Distinguish between constructive conflict – the type that can contribute to individual and group performance, versus destructive conflict – the type that damages working relationships.
  • Understand and assess the influence of factors that can cause conflict such as cultural differences, demographic differences (e.g. gender, race, etc.), differences in values, personality clashes, and different communication styles, to name just a few.
  • Develop effective communication skills such as active listening and “talking tentatively” that are central to the successful resolution of conflict.

Unfortunately it seems that many people in leadership positions are conflict averse and adopt the “ignore it and hope it goes away” strategy to conflict resolution. Of course sometimes this strategy might be the right one to take – for example when the conflict is relatively trivial and the protagonists seem to be able to work things out between themselves.  In many cases, however, effective leaders need to step into a conflict to calm overheated emotions and inject some rational thinking.

A few leaders seem to have a natural ability to handle conflict, but many leaders need training in the tools and techniques of conflict resolution to be able to handle conflicts effectively. Thankfully there are a number of courses and self-help books available and these can be of great value in helping leaders develop their conflict handling skills. Like all skills, however, before becoming proficient, leaders need to practice their conflict resolution skills so they are ready when the situation becomes heated, emotions are running high, and rational thinking is in short supply!
nashDr. Kevin Nash divides his time between teaching at Albertus Magnus College and providing consulting services to corporate clients. After more than twenty years’ experience in sales, marketing, and human resources with major corporations, Kevin started his own consulting practice in 2006 and since then has worked with clients in a wide range of industries in the USA, Europe, Africa, and Asia. His area of specialty is helping organizations hire and develop talented employees.

Kevin has a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Capella University, an MA in Management from The University of Kent, UK, and a Diploma in Marketing from the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. He is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and a Board Member of the Institute for Behavioral and Applied Management.

He lives with his wife in Newtown, Connecticut and for recreation Kevin plays music (guitar and five string banjo) and has a small sailboat on Candlewood Lake, Connecticut.