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“Demonstrate that you care,” said Joe Gutman ‘81, during a Nov. 12 leadership lecture at the Kellogg School.

Joe Gutman '81

Self-assessment a leadership foundation, says Kellogg grad

In Kellogg visit, Joe Gutman ’81 tells students how leaders create a winning team

By Amy Trang

11/14/2008 - By his own admission, Joe Gutman ’81 once worked in a team culture that was built on fear and greed.

And although the team was the most successful and productive group in the company, it wasn’t Gutman’s ideal work environment. So when he became a leader, the Kellogg graduate built a culture of teamwork where people worked hard but were motivated by a mutual vision, not fear.

“If people don’t feel that you care about them and their interests, then you can’t create a team environment,” Gutman told an audience of Kellogg students during a Nov. 12 visit to the school. “My group became known as the one where leaders came from.”

The managing director of Chicago-based Grosvenor Capital Management LP shared his insights about the realities of team building and empowerment, including his experiences as co-head of the Goldman Sachs Chicago office. Gutman, a member of the Kellogg Alumni Council, said that students can be leaders on Day One in the workplace if they set the proper tone for themselves. Even a simple action like picking up a piece of paper from the floor is noticed.

“Demonstrate that you care as much as everyone else,” Gutman said, noting that leaders are observed closely by their staff. “Everything you do becomes important. People learn more from what you do, not what you say.”

He said leaders need to set a mission for their team that is known by everyone from the secretary to the middle managers. Leaders also should be aware and work with team members on their professional personal goals, giving them constructive feedback.

“Without a unified vision, the boat can go in all different directions and cause dysfunction,” Gutman said. “Everyone deserves to know where they stand.”

Gutman’s presentation complemented the Kellogg School’s 360 Degree Leadership Assessment, said Michelle Buck, director of leadership initiatives and clinical professor of management and organizations. Buck said she hoped that students would benefit from Gutman’s remarks as they sharpened their leadership skills, using feedback from the 360 Degree Leadership Assessment. The assessment provides Kellogg students with peer critiques about their leadership strengths and weaknesses so students can gain a comprehensive understanding of how others perceive them as a leader.

The process was one that the guest speaker declared key. Gutman said students must be willing participants in the evaluations to work on improving themselves, or they lose credibility among peers. And if students are not part of a formal evaluation program when they enter the workforce, they should seek out the opportunity for honest feedback from a mentor or peer.

“Without understanding your strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard for you to grow,” Gutman said.