The importance of embracing a new age of diversity in leadership highlighted the 2010 Multi-Sector Leadership Forum hosted recently at the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.
The annual forum presented some of the brightest minds in leadership education from across the country. The forum was held across two days and featured enlightening keynote speakers as well as more hands-on, topic-specific workshops.
Presented by the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, the forum strives to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and facilitate the exchange of ideas on the broad subject of leadership.
Corey Criswell, a research associate in the Global Product Development group at the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, Colo., kicked the event off with a presentation centered on the idea of boundary-spanning leadership. She defined this concept as the “capability to create direction, alignment, and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal.”
She highlighted a 2009 study of 128 senior executives, in which a 79 percent gap appeared between those who deemed boundary-spanning leadership as very important and those who felt very skilled at the practice. The gap represents the difference between where these executives think they are and where they think they should be in regard to boundary-spanning leadership. Criswell said this is indicative of the need to focus on crossing implied boundaries to become an effective leader.
For Dr. Holly Brower of Wake Forest University, a key to successful leadership involves a reciprocal relationship of trust and integrity between leaders and subordinates. Brower currently serves as director of internship development for the Business and Enterprise major at Wake Forest.
“When there is an understanding of mutual trust, there is an empowering impact knowing that my leader trusts me,” Brower said, adding that the measurement of mutual trust manifests itself as the organizational citizenship of a business.
Juana Bordas, president of Mestiza Leadership International and founder of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, added some spice to her keynote, urging attendants to experience leadership in a more exciting way by absorbing the “salsa, soul and spirit” of their organizations, referring to the title of her 2008 book.
Her presentation was titled, “Leadership for the Multicultural Millennium: The Power of We.”
“We should nourish what we have in common and respect what we have that is different. That is what we mean when we talk about the Power of We,” Bordas said.
“Your environment should not be viewed as an organization but instead as a community of people dedicated to helping one another,” she added.
To reach that goal, Bordas said organizations can practice community stewardship by having a participatory culture, creating a community of leaders, generating a shared vision, using culturally effective communication and weaving partnerships from top to bottom.
Jean Lipman-Blumen, a well-known author and teacher of leadership principles, said becoming an effective leader requires more than charisma. She championed the idea of connective leadership in today’s business world, where leaders integrate the diversity and interdependence of employees and departments.
“This requires leaders who can balance the needs of self and others to achieve constructive outcomes for all these diverse groups,” said Lipman-Blumen, co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership and former education adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
Dr. Eric Meslin, founding director of the IU Center for Bioethics, included in his keynote address a history lesson of the scientific leadership decisions that continue to shape the country.
He used the examples of the atomic bomb, landing on the moon and the mapping of the human genome as scientific advancements that came coupled with effective leadership on a global scale. However, these types of efforts oftentimes are confined by limited access to research funding, a tendency for governments to avoid tough choices and risk and the inevitable role of politics.
Dennis Organ, professor emeritus of management at the IU Kelley School of Business, closed out the keynote speeches Friday evening with “Perspectives on Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.”
The forum concluded at midday Saturday, Feb. 27, with additional presentations on leadership styles and successes. Presenters included Dr. Richard Cuoto, senior scholar at the Union Institute and University Interdisciplinary PhD program at the University of Kentucky; and Gary Ballinger, assistant professor of commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.