RLF Recap: "Leadership Paradigm: The Good and The Bad"

Dr. Lowell ''Chris'' Matthews embodies what it means to be an effective leader and an engaged global citizen. As an associate professor of Global Business and Leadership at Southern New Hampshire University, Dr. Matthews brought an academic research perspective on what it means to be an effective leader. More importantly, Dr. Matthews has a fascinating life story and well-developed trajectory as a leader.

On September 26, Dr. Matthews presented "Leadership Paradigm: The Good and The Bad." Through the session, we learned what leadership means and how to become a leader. He used a storytelling method to describe his journey as a leader and how he handled obstacles along the way. Dr. Matthews emphasized the importance of making the most of every situation. He grew up on a pig farm in Tennessee and was the first in his family to attend college. Dr. Matthews made deliberate choices to take risks and grow, both as a person and as a leader. Whether it was moving to Japan, going onstage at a concert, or pursuing an academic career at Southern New Hampshire University, Dr. Matthews consistently challenged himself and grew as a leader.

Dr. Matthews’ career is a model for effective and inclusive leadership. Dr. Matthews established a relationship between his class and a Connecticut prison. He spoke about the profound impact that the visits to the prison had on the students and on the prisoners. Dr. Matthews talked about the friendship he has formed with one of the inmates who currently is writing a book. As a result of the positive experiences he and his students have had over the years, Dr. Matthews proposed a pilot program between the university and the prison. The president of Southern New Hampshire University agreed and devoted five staff to the project. In addition to showing Fellows the importance of innovation in leadership, Dr. Matthews emphasized the necessity of inclusive leadership. By explaining his responses to adversity and bigotry in the workplace, Dr. Matthews promoted approaches to create a more inclusive space for all. 

Our session with Dr. Matthews affirmed the notion that leadership is something we practice every single day. We learned that to effectively lead, we must take risks and go outside of our comfort zones. And he showed us that this leads to a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. Dr. Matthew’s stories were not only impactful, but he used humor to keep us engaged throughout the session. Without a doubt, Dr. Matthews expanded our ideas of what it means to be a leader. We are grateful to him for sharing his story with us.

-Written by Alex Rounaghi, Class of 2020 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow

As Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, seniors gain a better understanding of the qualities and responsibilities expected of leaders. As Fellows take part in the workshops, dinner discussions, and team-building exercises, they examine their skills, qualities, and attributes as leaders and analyze how these influence teamwork and achieving goals.