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

MLDP Recap: “What Makes a Good Leader? Vision, Confidence, Training and Commitment” with Elizabeth Winslow

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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  

MLDP participants describing a time when they exercised effective leadership   

Associate Director Sadhana Hall first welcomed the group, saying how excited she is about this program and its growth from 29 students in the inaugural term of the program last fall to 70 students this term. She asked that everyone be ready to fully engage in the program.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Winslow, Associate Director of the MBA Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, was the leader for this first session of the spring term. Winslow asked participants to describe, in words or drawing, a time when they felt they had exercised effective leadership and then called on several to share their experiences. Winslow said that leadership is personal and that leaders need to share personal stories. Those who wish to be leaders should take from those personal stories, internalize them, use them to learn. Winslow asked what traits one associates with good leaders. Participants offered many: diligent, lead by example, good interpersonal skills, inspiring others to get tasks done, effective in getting people to reach a goal, understanding, good listener, flexible, realistic optimism, accountable, level-headed, passionate, confident in self and others, humble, focused, discerning. Winslow then contrasted those traits with those of bad leaders (taking from Barbara Kellerman’s book, Bad Leadership): incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil.

Winslow listed and then detailed four key components of leadership: personal excellence, situational mastery, managing and developing people, achieving outcomes. Focusing on outcomes, Winslow stated that an outcome should be measurable, develop the leader and the followers, take the organization forward, accomplish both a transaction and a transformation, and contribute to society. Winslow asked participants to work in small groups to think of a public figure who is or was a successful leader then discuss how he/she effectively used skills, managed situations, managed people, and achieved results. Examples included Jim Kim, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates.

Winslow spoke about the differences between leadership and management, quoting: “Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing.” (Bennis and Naus. Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge). Developing effective management skills is the first step toward leadership and requires self-awareness (you have to know your strengths and weaknesses) and commitment (you have to commit to selecting certain skills to improve). She also covered the components of emotional intelligence as described by Daniel Goleman: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. The session ended with a five-minute self-assessment exercise. Winslow left participants with the thought: It is our choices far more than our abilities that define us.

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