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

MLDP Recap: "The Science & Art of Building Effective Leadership Teams" with Kate Hilton '99

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This ongoing series explores sessions of the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) through participant narratives. MLDP is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.

This was not Kate Hilton '99's first session teaching MLDP participants about the "Art of the Narrative." Hilton, the guest speaker for MLDP’s Week 8 session and Director of Organizing for Health, a project of ReThink Health, and Principal in Practice for Leading Change at Harvard University, returned to MLDP and to showcase how a good story captures and sustains attention. In a session entitled on “Dream Teams vs. Scream Teams: The Science & Art of Building Effective Leadership Teams,” Hilton narrated her experiences with building an effective leadership team while at Harvard to successfully drive home her point that "Leadership is the process of influencing and organizing a group to mobilize resources toward accomplishing an identified goal."

Kate Hilton '99

Hilton explained the various models of team structures while mentioning the pros and cons of each. Through the stories of her experiences and her clear presentation based on scientific studies, she convinced us that a snowflake structure for a leadership team can give tremendous results. Hilton was able to establish the notion that an effective leadership team requires a real team with the right people, a clear and compelling shared purpose, and an enabling structure. Each of us thought of a group that we were involved in, and Hilton guided us through a checklist that clarified how much of a 'scream team' or 'dream team' that group was. Not only did this checklist highlight the strengths and weaknesses of our individual teams, but it also hinted at what we could do to create a dream team from scratch and what we could do to restructure our scream teams into dream teams. Hilton then invited us to detail and share examples of our teamwork experiences so that the learning process was interactive and practical.

Anna Miller '16, a fellow participant, stated "[Hilton] gave practical advice for implementing team standards." Further, Hilton was able to bring in a very realistic perspective to the session by describing her experiences as well as by coaching us on our real life teamwork troubles. She excellently and surprisingly exhibited all the characteristics and practices she spoke of in the session. Hilton was encouraging, active, and welcoming, just as a member of a leadership team should be. As the session progressed, I was convinced that her advice was both immensely helpful and not terribly difficult to implement. It was a sure winner. My big takeaway from the session, apart from the minute practicalities of good teamwork, is in Hilton’s words, "Leadership is a practice, not a position."

-Written by Pallavi Saboo '16, Fall 2014 MLDP Participant

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