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Q&A on leadership

Francis Yammarino, distinguished professor of management, is also director of the Center for Leadership Studies. He took a few minutes recently to discuss some issues facing leaders today.

What can business schools do to address the ethical and moral dimensions of leadership?

I personally believe that we do really have a lot of people in leadership positions of higher moral and ethical quality than you might be led to believe. There’s not enough said about people who do behave well.

Business schools have been teaching the ethical and moral side of leadership for years. It’s not a new thing. We deal with these issues in all our classes.

At a university level, more and more schools are requiring students to do community service projects to build moral character. Codes of ethics and professional conduct are also addressed.

And the organization that accredits business schools makes this a mandatory part of the curriculum.

How does technology affect today’s leaders?

In the old days, someone in a leadership capacity saw the people they were leading face to face every day. Now the people on your team could be anywhere.

It’s difficult to build rapport and trust with people you’ve never met. It changes the whole dynamic. Virtual teams are not the same as regular teams.

We have a real advantage here because the information systems guys here do a lot of lead

ership stuff. In the leadership classes, students get exposure to technology and in the technology classes they get exposed to leadership. The students see it’s a hand-in-glove thing.

One of the keys of being a leader is communication skills. You particularly have to be able to communicate your vision. I would say that’s being able to take advantage of every media available to you.

How do you define good communication?

There’s a lot of elements. You want a clear, concise message. You want to put it out there a lot of different ways and your behavior has to be consistent with it. You want to create an environment where people feel comfortable talking to you about it. You have to be approachable.

What does globalization mean for leadership in the United States?

The challenge is the same as it’s always been. There’ve always been rising nations and changes in the workforce.

I think every threat is also an opportunity; every problem also presents a prospect. In many ways, the global economy is not any different than it has been at other points in history and we’ve always been able to rise to the challenge.

What central themes do you see in your research about leadership?

The buzzwords that come up in my work with business and the military are leadership, learning and change. Think of them as a triangle with the team in the middle holding it all together.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08