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

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

RLF Recap: "Thinking about Truth, Speech, Knowledge, and Leadership"

The 15th session of RLF was hosted by Tuck Clinical Professor Curt Welling, who is also an alumnus of both Dartmouth College (1971) and the Tuck School of Business (1977). Professor Welling has decades of experience in both the private and non-profit sectors, upon which he drew to share his understanding of the important of truth with the Fellows. To discuss this crucial topic, concepts important to leadership were introduced, including filters, bubbles, and the philosophical understandings of terms such as truth, knowledge, and belief.

RLF Recap: "How to Frame Three Hard Cases"

The halfway point of the term was marked with a stimulating session of the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program, taught by Government Professor Sonu Bedi. A scholar of legal rights, Professor Bedi utilized his extensive knowledge of the rationale for and against different controversial rights in crafting the session. Through the example of three such rights, Professor Bedi taught the Fellows a new strategy for approaching difficult conversations during his time with the students.

RLF Recap: "The Art of Telling People What They Don't Want to Hear"

The third session of the term was hosted by Professor Charles Wheelan, the Rockefeller Center’s own Professor of Public Policy and member of the Dartmouth Class of 1988. The focus of the session was on the importance of language in leadership and understanding how to leverage the power of words to achieve success that benefits all. Professor Wheelan has a wealth of relevant experience to this topic, as he has devoted much of his career to communicating difficult ideas in accessible ways and working to connect people on opposite sides of controversial issues. The Fellows benefited from his imparted experience and enjoyed an engaging and enlightening evening with the Professor.

RLF Reflection: The Art of Saying No

Caterina Hyneman presented on the art of saying no. Some key highlights from her presentation include a framework on how to say no in the most selfless way possible, the difference between work-life balance and work-life integration, and a call for us to think about what we want in a job or career moving forward. The framework requires us ultimately to be persuasive and portray the issue in a way that meets the organization’s interests. The goal of these actions is to get the boss to understand your priorities in a positive way.

RLF Reflection: Re-centering Leadership Theories in Feminist Contexts

On February 18, Elizabeth “Leeza” Poselski gave a presentation on recentering leadership theories in feminist contexts. Leeza discusses how we must recognize gender as an organizing principle of society and that we can only intervene effectively in manifestations of racism, sexism, and homophobia by building solidarity. Furthermore, Leeza reveals how we must leverage our unique personalities to redefine what liberated workplaces look like. Finally, she explains how feminist goals arise from personal experience and collective consultation.

RLF Reflection: Cultivating Motivation in Leadership Roles

On February 18th, Dustin Jones gave a presentation on cultivating motivation in individual and leadership roles. According to Dustin, there are two types of motivation systems: extrinsic and intrinsic. In the traditional extrinsic motivation system, also known as a “carrot stick” reward system, we’re given a “carrot”-like positive reward when we complete a task and a “stick”-like negative consequence when we perform poorly on a task. While this system does hold some merit, Sam Glucksberg’s Candle Problem experiment showed the limitations of extrinsic motivation in practice; among other limitations, extrinsic motivation narrows your focus on completing tasks in a typical routine instead of exploring creative problem solving. The second motivation system is that of intrinsic motivation; as highlighted by Dan Pink in his “The Puzzle of Motivation” TED talk, intrinsic motivation is defined by promoting autonomy (the urge to direct our own lives), mastery (the desire to get better at things that matter), and purpose (yearning to do something in service of something larger than ourselves).


RLF Reflection: Grit

On February 4, Oumy Kane gave a presentation on grit. According to Oumy, ‘grit’ is the key to being a great leader. According to Oumy, grit is defined as sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals despite setbacks, obstacles and challenges. She discussed her personal experiences in which she encountered the need for grit. Oumy mentioned her high school experiences with sports and how grit was essential to facilitating team culture. She highlighted five characteristics of grit which included courage, conscientiousness, long-term vision and endurance, resilience, and excellence. Someone who has grit is meticulous, dependable, achievement-oriented, and one who is persistent in overcoming any obstacles that they encounter.

RLF Reflection: “Avoiding the God Complex: Why Leadership Requires Trial and Error”

During the asynchronous session on Thursday, February 4th, 2021, RLF fellow Nancy Curtis gave a presentation about “Avoiding the God Complex: Why Leadership Requires Trial and Error.” The god complex is the belief that one already possesses the single correct solution or that they are the most equipped to discover that solution. This complex stems from the need to be in control.

The god complex is something that can be taught and is often engrained within formal education. Individuals are taught that asking for help correlates with appearing weak or incompetent. This idea is present within the educational system through the current structure of classes and testing where students must soak in everything a single teacher presents and later partake in standardized testing. This structure of education limits growth and creative thinking.

RLF Reflection: The “Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act” (OODA) Loop

During the asynchronous session on Thursday, January 14, 2021, Bobby Hobart gave a presentation about the OODA “Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act” Loop, a leadership concept formulated by seminal U.S. Air Force pilot John Boyd. Boyd had been credited with modifying the art of combat flying based on his violence-free and conflict-free combat performance and observations in Korea. Essentially, Boyd formulated a strategic philosophy which centers on the theory that “outthinking an opponent” involves overwhelming them with decision-making. Boyd’s decision cycle that he crafted is known as the “Observe, Orient, Decide, [and] Act” loop.

The first two aspects of the loop – observe and orient – involve taking the observations or data that we have and contextualizing them. We must consider our previous experiences and biases that we bring to the table, as well as how who we are influences what we observe.

RLF Recap: "Leading in an Intergenerational Work Environment"

The Winter Retreat was held on Friday evening, reuniting the Synchronous and Asynchronous cohorts together for the first time since the Fall Retreat. A Dartmouth Class of 2010 alumna was the speaker for the event, Ms. Jessica Guthrie. The Senior Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development at Teach For America Dallas-Fort Worth, Ms. Guthrie has vast experience aiding the leadership development of young adults. As a former TFA teacher in Dallas herself, Ms. Guthrie also has experience working as a young professional with a multi-generational team. These are the experiences from which Ms. Guthrie drew to inform her presentation, as well as her Master of Educational Leadership & Policy.



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