Aspiring Business Leaders Reflect on Leaders Who Inspired Them

One of the big reasons that students enroll in our executive-level MBA programs is that they want to become better leaders. So on the first day of classes for students in the Executive MBA and Americas MBA for Executives programs at Vanderbilt, I thought it was so fitting that each student was tasked with reflecting on past leaders in their lives—specifically the leadership qualities that personally inspired each student to do great work.

The reflection was done during the Week-in-Residence in peaceful New Harmony, Indiana. The week is a busy but important time to reflect on executive leadership and the kind of leaders these mid-career students want to be, as well as get down to business in economics, accounting and statistics after years on the job.

During the Week-in-Residence, Vanderbilt Professor of Management Dick Daft introduced the students to a valuable exercise in reflection on past mentors. The assignment was for each student to share the attribute that made a certain leader in their lives a real standout and inspiration to them. Among our 48 new executive students, the leadership attributes that came out as the winners are below. You’ll notice some themes in their answers, which undoubtedly will resonate as personal hallmarks in the management styles of the Executive MBA and Americas MBA for Executives class of 2017.

  • Presents a clear vision and articulates the big picture
  • Acknowledges achievement
  • Delegates and empowers
  • Development focused
  • Provides environment of autonomy/freedom/growth
  • Relies on input from below and across
  • Provides mentorship—gives freely of time and feedback
  • Collaborative
  • Encourages risk
  • Champions change
  • Backs you up, stands up for you
  • Protects your time and the team
  • Recognizes each member of the team, does so publicly
  • Balances different interests
  • Leads by example
  • Leads by answering and encouraging
  • Invests time in coaching
  • Fair—believes in incentives, rewards
  • Trusting
  • First in, last out
  • Selfless–takes the blame, attributes success to others
  • Optimistic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Confident
  • Vulnerable
  • Genuine

What is the most important leadership quality that has inspired YOU in your career? Post your answer in the comments.

Leave a Response