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

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

RLF Reflection: Giving Back Through Mentorship

While the Rocky Leadership Fellows embarked on a new term of remote learning and few social interactions, Hi’ilani Hopkins took a moment to remind us about the importance of connection and giving back to our communities. She argues that as Dartmouth students, the fellows have been extremely fortunate to get the mentorship that we have. We should ensure that future leaders, especially those that do not have access to the incredible resources that we do, have an opportunity to learn from us. But mentorship need not be a one-sided venture; Hi’ilani finds mentors often learn just as much from our mentees as they learn from us.

RLF Reflection: Leadership Lessons from Ernest Shackleton

On January 7th, RLF fellow Will Dickerman gave a presentation on the leadership of Ernest Shackleton, a polar explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. Will recounted the Shackleton’s third and last expedition in 1914, when “The Endurance” ship sunk due to violent weather conditions, and Shackleton heroically led the entire crew out of the quandary. Will highlighted a few of Shackleton’s actions. First, Shackleton foresaw the sinking of the ship and preemptively evacuated the ship; second, when the crew drifted on ice to the uninhabited Elephant Island, he bravely led a small portion of the crew to sail to South Georgia, the closest inhabited island, to look for provisions and rescue; third, when his crew arrived at the wrong side of South Georgia, he decided to lead a few men to traverse the island on foot and eventually reached the populated side.


RLF Recap: "Leading in Civil Society"

After beginning winter term with a session focused on the purpose of actively recruiting the next class of Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, this week the 2021 cohort of Fellows returned to routine with a session led by the Rockefeller Center’s own Professor Ron Shaiko. Shaiko discussed the topic of civil leadership with the Fellows and aided the Fellows in directly applying the topic to Dartmouth itself.


RLF Reflection: Cross-field Learning

Neelufar Raja gave a presentation about cross-field learning on January 7th, 2021. Neelufar sees collaboration, creativity, and synthesis as key elements of gaining knowledge across fields. Neelufar identified leaders and polymaths in history as people who exemplify the value of gaining knowledge in a variety of sectors. These polymaths, including well-known figures such as Marie Curie and Charles Darwin, have contributed significantly in multiple fields of study. Neelufar believes that the example of Atul Gawande, a medical physician who was charged with identifying ways to make surgery safer, can be used as a case study for the value of cross-field learning. Gawande drew upon other high risk industries outside medicine and concluded that checklists–a low-tech method that is a mainstay of the aviation industry–were key to ensuring safety. Neelufar emphasized that expertise and knowledge gained in one area can be valuable in another area and added that taking classes at Dartmouth in a variety of areas is a way to put her suggestions into practice.


RLF Reflection: Listening Leadership

On January 7, 2021, Maria Smith-Lopez gave a presentation on listening leadership and the importance of listening as a tool for leadership. I found it compelling because while we hear a lot about the importance of both listening and leadership, we don't often hear about how the two are related. Leaders are often portrayed as big thinkers with a vision, the big talkers who chart the course of the group, people who are listened to, not so much listeners themselves. And yet we also know that good leadership requires strong relationships between leaders and the people they lead. Since listening is one of the most important ways to establish relationships with others it is quite astonishing to see how little it comes up when people talk about 'leadership'. Maria's presentation highlighted the importance of leaders as listeners and how this might strengthen leadership.

RLF Reflection: Leadership Lessons from Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

On January 7th, Will Dickerman gave a presentation on leadership qualities as displayed by a historical polar explorer Earnest Shackleton on his Antarctic expedition. Shackleton’s ship sunk; he split up the crew; left one group with one of them in-charge, took a smaller group with him and risked his life going to another island on a life-boat. Despite landing on the wrong side of the island, he was not discouraged but after careful consideration he made a judgement call to leave behind some of the injured crew and went on a land expedition. Eventually he managed to get help and went back for his crew leading them all to safety. According to Dickerman, perseverance, good judgement, risk-taking are crucial leadership qualities as exemplified by Shackleton. He believes that through never giving up on things one values, delegating tasks to those best suited to handle them and getting out of one’s comfort zone results in achieving set goals.


RLF Reflection: Leadership Across Cultures

For the asynchronous cohort week of November 13th, Byul “B” Ha gave a detailed presentation on cross-cultural communication. Her presentation, delivered over the internet, began with a series of questions designed to demonstrate to the audience the relevance of cross-cultural communication in an ever-globalized world. Next, B set the scene by defining what “culture” is— “a system of behavior that helps us act in an accepted or familiar way”—and what defines cross-cultural leadership as an independent school of leadership theory.

RLF Recap: "Overcoming Obstacles and Breaking Down Barriers"

The final fall term session of the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program, led by Angela Winfield, focused on understanding social identity through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. A woman of many talents, Angela has honed her understanding of the session topic through her many professional experiences, but most notably as the Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at Cornell University. So, what is social identity? Social identity is, as defined by Angela, the labels we are assigned and assign others based on visible and invisible traits, which can be fixed or mutable and context dependent. To better illustrate the different types of social identities and their varying levels of visibility, Angela introduced the iceberg metaphor. Some social identities, such as race or gender, tend to be above water–the part of the iceberg that is immediately perceivable. Political leanings, education attainment, and religion are more often underwater social identities and less perceptible. However, some underwater social identities might be made visible.

RLF Recap: "Leading Creative Collaborations"

Dartmouth College alumnus and the speaker for Session 8 of the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program Professor Peter Robbie ‘69 opened the session with an award-winning Nike advert titled “Write the Future.” The video depicts a number of famous soccer players having widespread impacts around the world as they play their sport. To Professor Robbie, the takeaway of the ad is simple: leaders lead the world into the future with playfulness and creativity. The crux of Professor Robbie’s presentation mirrored his initial thoughts: Leading creative innovation is a key leadership challenge. Because we are living in a creative economy, it is critical that future leaders like the Fellows learn to facilitate creative collaboration.

RLF Recap: "Adaptive Action: Leading Change in Uncertain Times"

The opening words from Kerry Priest for the seventh session of Rockefeller Leadership Fellows were “leadership is an activity so we can get better at it.” Kerry shared that she views a difference between a leader as a noun and leadership as a verb. To her, the word leader focuses on a person or position–something people “are.” Leadership focuses on people (relationships) and processes (activity)–something people “do.” The entire point of RLF is to develop leadership skills, supporting Kerry’s hypothesis. “Leadership is motivated by challenges and finds opportunities,” emphasizing the courage necessary from future leaders to confront problems.


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