In his session “Leading People and Delivering Results,” Dr. David Ager facilitated discussion over a Harvard Business School case study. The case focused on whether a senior management director at Morgan Stanley, Paul Nasr, should promote his star revenue producer, Rob Parson. Parson has been extremely successful in generating revenue for the firm, but has an aggressive personality that strongly conflicts with Morgan Stanley’s team-oriented culture. The session began with Dr. Ager encouraging fellows to brainstorm reasons for why Parson should be promoted. Fellows debated the impact of Parson’s qualifications and behaviors, and analyzed the potential pros and cons of promotion. Specifically, fellows argued whether Nasr should put greater weight on Parson’s revenue production or his leadership capabilities. At the beginning, discussion focused primarily on Parson’s behavior. However, after further discussion, the debate started to center on whether Nasr had succeeded as a manager.
After the group discussed both individuals’ behaviors, fellows had a chance to role play the situation. In groups of three, one individual played the role of Rob Parson, one played the role of Paul Nasr, and one was a discussion observer. The individual who played Paul Nasr had twelve minutes to notify Rob Parson that he did not get the promotion. After the exercise, fellows discussed the challenges of both giving and receiving feedback.
Fellows left this session with a number of lessons. First, they recognized the responsibility leaders have to developing their subordinates. Second, they discussed the difficulties of giving and receiving feedback, and how certain personality types may warrant different feedback styles. Lastly, they were informed that upon entering the professional world, most managers are not equipped to give effective feedback. As a result, it is the responsibility of the individual to seek out feedback on a consistent basis. Dr. Ager’s session was received with great enthusiasm and excitement, and left the fellows with much to ponder.
Written by Deep Singh, Class of 2017 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow