Seton Hall University
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Current Meeting Materials

April 2023

Greetings to the Seton Hall family!

In the northeast Spring is blooming! On the morning after Earth Day, God's land is filled with beauty as plants and trees continue to emerge from Winter's hibernation. The planet (and hopefully ourselves) is being transformed!

For a few years I assisted a professor in the Stillman School who was teaching a non-credit course on leadership.  This program was offered to selected undergraduates and MBA candidates. Guiding students toward authentic leadership was the goal of the program.

Our instruction included sections about cognitive knowledge and emotional leadership. Using Bernard Lonergan's Generalized Empirical Method, students were introduced to a model that, if practiced, would ensure authentic decisions; at this point the Jesuit Examen was also presented not only as a prayer, but also as a way to better self-awareness. Students were encouraged to recognize strengths and weaknesses, and thus become more self-aware and authentic.

So, this month's reading, "Leaders, Don't Be Afraid to Admit Your Flaws," resonated with me. The material is sourced from Kellogg Insights, a weekly online compilation of articles written by faculty at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management.

The piece is a summary of studies done by university researchers who tested the hypothesis that people prefer to work with leaders who make themselves vulnerable. The feedback from several studies affirmed their theory - workers not only prefer leaders who voluntarily confess faults, but also find them no less competent than others who do not. These managers are also perceived as more authentic.

The research identified an important benefit to managers who are willing to adopt this aspect of leadership.  Employees are more willing to work for these leaders which suggests that authenticity is not just better in theory, but has positive and practical downstream effects as well.

During my career I encountered few leaders who would admit vulnerability. So, these studies are advocating for an approach that is different from my experience, and might be perceived as radical. What is your point of view, what have been your observations in the workplace?

Until the next time,
Wally Kennedy

2022-23 Ignatian Business Chapter Reading Materials (Seton Hall Chapter)