© Nathan Mandell
“Love has become the killer app,” says Howard
human touch of leadership
leaders embrace chaos — and others — finding calm
in the storm and meaning in mentorship
Does the soul have
any place in business? The question may seem odd to those
unfamiliar with leadership trends at the Kellogg School.
experts debate the terminology — one person’s
“soul” is another’s “inner voice”
or “center” — the commonality among the
words suggests a foundation, and the best leaders harness
its power. In so doing, says Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain, these
leaders transform themselves and their followers, enabling
everyone to develop their full potential while driving organizational
‘soul’ of leadership involves the ability of a
leader to mentor and motivate by demanding the best from a
team while creating an environment that challenges and enriches,”
says Jain. “Leaders should invest in their people, allowing
them to flourish by giving them the tools and opportunities
to grow — both professionally and personally.”
model informs the leadership curriculum at the Kellogg School,
long known for its teamwork and willingness to engage faculty,
staff, alumni and students as partners creating an innovative
learning environment. The Kellogg Business Leadership Club,
which sponsors leadership seminars and co-sponsors the Kellogg
Distinguished Leadership Award, is just one example of how
student-driven initiatives find a voice within the school.
become leaders by doing, as well as through classroom study,
explains Jain, and club initiatives help them develop the
essential skills. The dean also cites a number of leadership-oriented
courses in the MBA program, as well as cutting edge Kellogg
Executive Education programs, such as Leading
High-Impact Teams, Reinventing
Leadership, and The
Soul of Leadership, a special two-day course scheduled
for May 2003, led by renowned mind-body guru Dr. Deepak Chopra.
view, being innovative requires leaders to do two basic, but
extraordinary, things. First, they must develop the introspection
required to understand themselves and unlock their own potential,
enabling them to guide others along a similar path. Then,
they use insights uncovered by this “journey to awareness”
to appreciate the motivations of others.
who wish to create excellence in their people must first remember
to cultivate it in themselves,” says Jain.
you need is love
concepts make leadership sound like an ancient Zen art, that
doesn’t come as a surprise to Kellogg Professor Robert
Neuschel. Neuschel has spent some 50 years studying leadership,
tracing many of its core elements to antiquity, and deriving
a framework from his observations that he calls the “servant
understand that their roles carry profound responsibility
toward others, Neuschel says. Rather than expect others to
serve them, servant leaders are prepared to nurture their
followers, building bonds based upon mutual respect —
servant leader is one with ahigh sense of humanity and is
truly unselfish,” Neuschel notes. These leaders make
themselves accessible to their followers and cultivate emotional
connections with them, while also delegating important initiatives,
thus building trust.
alum Howard Gordon ’62 is another advocate of servant
leadership, because he’s seen its competitive advantage
time and again during studies conducted by GRFI Ltd., a marketing
consultancy and research firm where Gordon is a principal.
has become the killer app,” Gordon says. “In the
marketing business, you’re nobody until somebody loves
marketers must employ the “human touch” of leadership
to beat the competition by endearing themselves to customers,
distributors and internal peers. As executives mature, Gordon
says they often learn that there are “less quantifiable
factors that contribute to a company’s success.”
He notes that marquee CEOs, such as Jack Welch — trained
as a chemical engineer — have mastered the technical
acumen and people skills to achieve market leadership.
15 years ago, companies spent the majority of their time on
product issues. Today they spend the majority of time on customer
issues,” Gordon states. “You want to tap into
your customers and their concerns.”
This “other-directed” behavior forms the basis
of Neuschel’s servant leader. Among many historical
examples, Neuschel points to Alexander the Great, who instilled
love in his troops. As a result, his soldiers were ready to
die for him.
recent intellectual models may have displaced this ancient
wisdom, conditioning today’s leaders to place too much
emphasis on reason. As a result, most business education has
emulated scientific methods, sometimes overlooking important
subjects because they are difficult to quantify, or because
there’s not even much of a language with which to address
Professor John Sherry, an anthropologist by training, is one
of many social scientists and psychologists on the Kellogg
School faculty. Since leadership entails an understanding
of others, scholars such as Sherry help students appreciate
the value of people skills — commonly referred to, somewhat
disparagingly, as the “soft skills.”
itself, though, is one that Sherry and colleague David Messick,
the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision
in Management, find misleading.
implies that there’s no rigor to a discipline, that’s
it’s not measurable,” says Sherry. “But
there are lots of rigorous, qualitative ways of knowing that
are not measurement-based. Talk with any theologian and they
always have a rigorous system for understanding their phenomenal
agrees and points to military training, as well as the leadership
traits of explorers and adventurers such as Ernest Shackleton
and Robert Falcon Scott, that find great value in people skills.
nothing soft about the U.S. military,” Messick says.
“What many in the business world have derided as unnecessary,
the military has embraced as part of its central training
especially in the military where life and death can hang in
the balance, demands people who can form intimate bonds, says
Messick. Forging such bonds requires leaders who can gain
the trust of their people. “Effective leaders are people
who ask to be trusted,” he says. “If I want you
to trust me, one of the best ways for me to do that is to
trust you, but for me to trust you I’ve got to empower
|© Nathan Mandell
says leaders should balance reason with emotion.
put themselves at risk during this trust-building process,
Messick admits, but that’s necessary to build a tight-knit
team that can excel under duress.
suggests that one reason why more sophisticated leadership
thinking has taken longer to enter the business world may
be because of the ideological frameworks under which most
people today operate, or believe they operate. These frameworks
derive from the Enlightenment, the 18th century philosophical
movement that emphasized reason as the way to achieve understanding.
But Sherry questions the utility of reason alone to engage
the world. He also wonders if much of our life does not still
operate in a pre-Enlightenment arena.
if the Enlightenment was not as thoroughgoing as scholars
claim it was? What if it operated primarily at the level of
philosophy and science, but didn’t operate at the level
of everyday reality?” muses Sherry.
Enlightenment thinkers made science the privileged way of
interpreting nature, they minimized humanity’s emotional
faculties. Many schools today continue to reinforce the trend.
teaches his marketing students the importance of paying attention
to the “lived behaviors” of consumers to gain
an understanding of how they relate to products. Similarly,
he suggests leaders immerse themselves into the world of their
people, to understand how that world works. Only then will
they best be able to motivate others. Alternative leadership
models, he says, “end up motivating people through less
effective, less humane, means.”
That today’s leaders must engage the holistic mind —
the rational and emotional parts — is a central component
of Deepak Chopra’s leadership seminar.
though we have this great desire to be rational, the vast
majority of humanity bristles with emotion, and makes decisions
based on emotions,” he says.
a guest lecturer at Kellogg and the preeminent practitioner
of mind/body medicine in the world today, calls leadership
the most crucial choice a person can make: “It is the
decision to step out of darkness,” he says.
defines the leader as “the symbolic soul…and archetypical
expression of who we are.” He explains that leaders
must look inside themselves to recognize their true identity
before they can “serve as a catalyst for change and
transformation” within any group, from a family to a
nation. For Chopra, there is a profound spiritual ingredient
to leadership, though he says many people lack an understanding
of the word’s definition. Chopra defines spirituality
as “awareness” which he says occupies a key role
practice (including practical exercises in his Executive Education
seminar), Chopra says leaders can eventually tap their spiritual
resources — mind, heart, soul — to respond with
creativity, vision and a sense of unity, giving their followers
the freedom, love and spiritual worth they crave.
matter how complex a situation looks, leadership is possible
from one simple attitude: Being comfortable with disorder,”
Chopra says. Only the person who can find “wisdom in
the midst of chaos” will be remembered as a great leader.
Fortunately, humans all have the ability to learn how to match
needs with appropriate responses, says Chopra.
Buck, an associate director of the Kellogg Executive Education
program and a professor in the Management and Organizations
Department, teaches Managerial Leadership, drawing on her
training as a social psychologist. Like Chopra, she believes
that leaders must take into account the whole person.
is structured to help students assess their leadership strengths
through sophisticated feedback and an examination of other
leaders. Buck describes the two main themes in her course
as involving “the personal journey of leadership”
and “leadership as relationship.” While both are
key, perhaps Buck’s accent on the latter point is what
most distinguishes her approach — and that of Kellogg
as a whole — to leadership.
need to understand the perspectives of others to be effective,”
Buck explains. But equally important, and too often overlooked,
is the leader-follower relationship that Buck calls “an
society talks about its interest in leadership, people are
usually only focused on the leaders themselves: How do we
identify leaders? What are their traits?” Buck explains.
These questions are worthwhile, but they address only a portion
of the leadership dynamic. She goes on to explore the role
of followers too.
need leaders for vision and direction, but leaders also need
followers to implement their visions,” she says. Highlighting
the interplay between leaders and followers is one of the
groundbreaking approaches to leadership research pursued by
Kellogg faculty, says Buck, who employs an innovative dance
metaphor in her classroom and often introduces the importance
of “meaningfulness” into her leadership discussions.
a great search for meaningfulness in every facet of the world,
including business,” she says. “Many people are
searching for stability, but stability is often elusive.”
Just as Chopra believes great leaders learn to exist peacefully
within chaos, Buck says that we are living in a world of “change,
uncertainty and paradox, and effective corporate leaders are
those who help people to find meaningfulness in their work,
even in the midst of uncertainty.”
for meaning in the modern corporate world led Kellogg alum
Dean Ottati ’93 to write a book about the subject. Titled
The Runner and the Path: An Athlete’s Quest for
Meaning in Postmodern Corporate America, the book addresses
many concerns Ottati says are key for today’s leaders.
Among the points raised is the need for executives to begin
living the “examined life.”
president of marketing and strategy for Irvine, Calif.-based
Velocitel begins his book with Thoreau’s famous quote:
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
avoiding this desperation means gaining awareness of yourself
and your world. This search for meaning is universal, and
everyone has a need to discover what he calls “this
resting place in the middle of mystery.” Once leaders
gain clarity about their own search, they can help others
emerges when our hearts and minds are working in concert,”
says Ottati. For him, leadership requires “deep listening”
for meaning to become apparent.
one of your employees comes in to talk, the leader needs to
recognize that at some level there is something sacred about
that conversation,” Ottati says. “It’s not
just business. There’s a real person in front of you.
have almost no awareness of that which is sacred and eternal
in every encounter,” he contends. “One of the
leader’s responsibilities is to gain the awareness that
lets him see that sacred moment.”
end, then, real leadership has more to do with Woodstock than
common stock: compassion, awareness and service to others.
Not a bad recipe for leaders or followers.