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A celebration of leadership at St. Kate's

Left to right: Emmy Award-winning journalist Cathy Wurzer, author and former Medtronic CEO/Chairman Bill George, and MAOL Program Director Rebecca Hawthorne.
Left to right: Emmy Award-winning journalist Cathy Wurzer, author and former Medtronic CEO/Chairman Bill George, and MAOL Program Director Rebecca Hawthorne.
Rebecca Zenefski 10.

On April 4, alumnae and leadership luminaries joined St. Kate's to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program.

Headliner Bill George flew in from Boston — the former Medtronic CEO and chairman and author is now a professor at Harvard Business School — while retired MAOL Founding Director Julie Bell White Newman came from Naples, FL, for the festivities.

University President Andrea J. Lee, IHM — who had just stepped off the plane from Italy — welcomed the 250 guests at Rauenhorst Hall in Coeur de Catherine.

The art of leadership
Bill George discussed “The Art of Leadership” with Emmy Award-winning journalist and author Cathy Wurzer, host of MPR’s “Morning Edition” and co-host of Twin Cities Public Television’s “Almanac.”

They spoke about how leadership and perceptions of it have changed since 1986 — the year St. Kate's MAOL program was founded, in response to the need for graduate business education focused on leadership and ethics.

The leadership core
During the hourlong conversation with Wurzer, George, co-author of several books on ethics and leadership, returned to the attributes of the successful leader — values-based, emotional intelligence and well-grounded — to illustrate many of his points.

“Each one of us is a leader, and a successful organization needs leaders across the company,” said George. He added that aligning employees around a mission and values, even as they are asked to adapt to changes in the marketplace, was fundamental to Medtronic averaging 35 percent annual growth during his tenure as CEO and chairman.

George attributed his success as a leader to emotional intelligence and self-awareness, but added that introspection and reflection — two key practices vital to developing emotional intelligence — are easily lost in the current business environment that puts a premium on speed and values short-term profits over long-term gains.

“The hardest thing to do is to lead yourself,” he said. The ability to “look yourself in the mirror“ is not easy and that everyone needs honest feedback from peers who “see you as you really are.”

At Harvard Business School’s Advanced Leadership Institute, George is currently involved in setting up peer groups of business professionals to provide each other honest feedback and support.

“The key thing is resilience — to be able to pick yourself up, adapt and still hold onto your values,” he said.

Advancing leadership
George said the old corporate model, of rigid hierarchy, needs to change because it creates a culture that doesn’t support women or dual-career couples.

“We’ve allowed it to become a gender issue,” said George, stating that men equally want more work-life balance and flexible options for career advancement.

“The typical career path is flawed,” he added. “You have to create an environment that people want to work in.”

He also cautioned baby-boomers that it may be time to step aside and give younger workers the opportunity to gain valuable experience and develop as leaders.

“They’re not going to wait around 15 or 15 years,” he said. “Adapt yourself to new roles and new positions. Managing people and controlling budgets are not the way of the future.”

Acknowledgements, and cake!
In closing the evening, Paula King, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Leadership (SBL), announced that 44 donors had contributed more than $21,000 towards a special SBL campaign goal of $25,000 to support graduate student financial aid and study abroad grants.

Corporate matching sponsors for the evening were 3M, Cargill, Ecolab, St. Jude Medical and Thomson Reuters.

Guests also received a "swag bag" of MAOL materials, including The 2010 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership that was co-authored by Rebecca Hawthorne, MAOL program director, and Joann Bangs, economics professor in the program.

More about MAOL
The Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program at St. Catherine University offers an alternative to the traditional MBA, developing students’ professional and personal abilities to be effective, ethical and enduring leaders.

Since its creation in 1986, the program has added an array of concentrations, including partnerships with Hamline’s Law School and Health Law Institute, as well as custom organizational leadership certificates offered on-site at leading corporations such as Fairview and Wells Fargo.

Recently, the MAOL program became a Peace Corps Fellows—USA program partner, adding another feather to its globally focused cap. St. Kate’s has the only business leadership program in Minnesota with the Peace Corps and will welcome its first class of former Peace Corps volunteers this fall.

April 5, 2011 by Julie Michener

See also: Business, Faculty, Leadership