The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Dan Propp '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

As far as aspects of leadership, I am interested in how leaders can help individuals and groups reach their full potential. Additionally, I am interested in the capacity of effective leadership to bring about cultural shifts; a good leader can lead a group successfully to a goal, but a great leader can completely change a dialogue.

For me, being a RLF is largely a chance to meet student leaders who I find inspiring. The group consists of a number of fantastically intelligent and charismatic individuals, and I look forward not only to learning from them, but also growing alongside them.

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Jonathan Chu ’18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

Two broad aspects of leadership that I am very interested in are strategic decision-making and effective implementation of those decisions.  I believe my interest in these areas comes from my view of the leader in general.  A leader is someone who could be responsible for making decisions when a group of people may not be able to arrive at one.  At the same time, the leader is tasked with finding a way for the group to accomplish some mission that is likely unattainable by a single person.  These substitutions make it critical that the leader is an excellent decision-maker, but good decisions are worthless if they can't be executed effectively.

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Sam Colello '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

Communication, compassion, and decision-making skills are three essential aspects of leadership. I believe that communication is the most important element of being a leader because it is the glue that brings everyone together. It ensures that all members of the group are on the same page and it facilitates the collaborative process of completing a task. I admire leaders who are great communicators because it makes the process of achieving a goal smooth and easy to follow. 

“Leading Creative Collaboration” with Professor Peter Robbie

Professor Peter Robbie, an Associate Professor at Thayer, industrial designer, and design consultant, has been teaching design thinking at Dartmouth for almost 30 years. He encourages students to tackle complex problems in the world using an empathetic, human-centered approach. He believes that to solve these problems, we need interdisciplinary leaders who are innovative thinkers.

He led the Fellows in a session entitled, “Leading Creative Collaboration.” He began by defining “innovation,” which has now become a buzz word in the creative world, as the intentional implementation of the novel and useful. 

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Caroline Berens '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

I am particularly interested in how leaders' personalities translate to their leadership styles, especially introversion, because I consider myself a more quiet and introverted leader. When we think of leaders, we imagine outgoing, charismatic and authoritative extroverts with superb people skills who command attention; conversely, an "introverted leader" sounds almost oxymoronic.

"Effective Delegation: Who Wants the Dollar Bill?" with Alison Fragale '97

“Who wants it?” asked Alison Fragale ’97, as she held up a crisp dollar bill. For a split second, Washington looked out to silent room of Fellows. Then, Matthew Sindelar ’18 sprung from his seat and dived for the dollar bill.

But before he took the bill, Sindelar hesitated and asked, “can I really have it?”

Fragale emphatically nodded, and Sindelar returned to his seat with a grin and one dollar richer.

Fragale then prompted the room, asking why no one else made an effort for the dollar bill. Charlie Blatt ’18, sitting at the far side of the room, noted that there was virtually no possibility that she would reach Fragale before a student sitting at the front of the room. Another student added that it was only a dollar, not a stack of Benjamins. In essence, it wasn’t that the students were lazy or apathetic. As rational actors, students logically saw that minimal reward compounded with low probability for success and the social tackiness of grand public gestures for money made the dollar not worth the effort.

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Emma Marsano '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

I’m most interested in the relationship between confidence and empowerment. Ample social science literature indicates that confident leaders’ faith in their own ideas inspires others to support them. What’s more, compliance with one leader’s vision can be an efficient way to run an organization. But a surplus of confidence can cause people in leadership roles to overlook opportunities for input from other sources.

In my own leadership experiences, I’ve struggled to balance the need for a clear vision with the desire to ask my collaborators for their input and empower them to help steer an organization. It can be difficult to request feedback without seeming to doubt one’s own ideas, but I’m also aware of the danger of shutting collaborators down by denying them the opportunity to become more involved.

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Jessie Colin '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

How Leaders Use Storytelling and Exemplify Integrity

This week, I had the privilege of introducing Sadhana Hall, the Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Center, at our Rocky Leadership Fellows session. During my introduction, I told my peers that not only is Sadhana very accomplished, but she is also one of the most open and genuine people I’ve encountered during my life. Sadhana welcomes people into the deepest parts of her own life so willingly that it’s easy to feel connected and cared for and to want to share everything on your mind, as well.

The Importance of Understanding Your Own Leadership Strengths

On September 14th, Jay Davis ’90, the coordinator for the First Year Student Enrichment Program and the King Scholars Program, shared valuable words of wisdom with respect to the flexibility and thoughtful reflection necessary to create cohesive group environments with the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Davis spoke from a number of previous experiences working within a range of group and leadership setting, and engaging students in an interactive discussion on how our own leadership styles and tendencies affect how we are able to work with one another to achieve goals we collectively establish.

He began the session by having each student share with the group a characteristic they find essential to exemplary leadership. Students provided a range of attributes, from humility to constructive communication. He, then, had us consider a time we found another person’s leadership challenging, alluding to the idea that conflicting leadership styles can impede group cohesion and effectiveness.

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