Author: Bauer Leadership Center

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About Bauer Leadership Center

The Bauer Leadership Center educates & inspires the next generation of leaders, helping students gain the leadership values, skills, and mindset to lead. olin.wustl.edu/BLC


Jamie Semler, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.

“Are you prepared to be a leader?”

As an undergraduate business school student, I have been taught the technical skills and knowledge needed to excel in my career and the fundamental aspects of management and professionalism. The emphasis in my coursework on data-based decision making and evaluation of success through numerical measures and ratios has prepared me to be a valuable future manager in any organization.

Yet, as Bob Chapman—chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Group—challenges us to answer the question above, I am forced to think about the ways in which my education and experiences have contributed to or fallen short of preparing me for my career.

In describing his experiences and leadership philosophy, often termed “Truly Human Leadership,” Bob helped us all attempt to think about and answer the above question and left us with some key takeaways about being an impactful leader:

Taking Responsibility for Other People’s Lives

Bob’s realization of the profound impact leaders have on those that they lead has spurred his belief that leaders are responsible for being stewards for the people they lead. Through his experiences at Barry-Wehmiller he has seen the effect his actions as a leader have had on the health, family life, and work satisfaction/enjoyment of his employees.

 Having the Courage To Care

The main principle underlying Bob’s leadership style is the importance of showing that you care about those who you are leading. This idea is best explained by Bob’s statement that “the greatest thing you can do as a leader is let people know they matter.”

In order to show appreciation for his employees, he has created a guiding principles award aimed at recognizing and rewarding those who exemplify leadership and company values, as nominated by their peers. The emotional responses to getting the award demonstrate the impact this type of leadership tactic has on the morale of the employees.

Defining Success

By measuring success by how he touches the lives of people, rather than solely by economic figures, Bob has created an environment that shows that he takes an interest in his employees. The way in which he handled the economic downturn of 2009 shows that he places importance on the lives of the people.

Instead of laying people off, which would severely affect the lives of many people, he decided that since he measures success by the way he touches people’s lives, he would not fire anyone and instead ask people to take a one month unpaid vacation, so that everyone suffered a little loss, but no one suffered a complete loss.

Understanding the Importance of Business Strategy

Although Bob puts much emphasis on being good to his people, he also notes the importance of having a strong business model in order to be able to support the them.  In talking about some key aspects of a strong business model, he emphasizes the importance of focusing on cash, growth through organic means and acquisitions, developing a sustainable model that balances markets and customers, and building a board of directors that you respect and who will challenge your thinking.




Joe Piganelli, MBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center. Olin Blog is running it today, the day of the Cardinal’s home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While the common fan may not view baseball this way, running a baseball team is just like running a business. Both require focus, discipline, and leadership skills. There are revenues, expenses, profits, and losses that must be managed for the team owners.

John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the St. Louis Cardinals, holds these responsibilities. He has implemented a unique system of coaching and feedback spanning the entire Cardinals organization.

Recently, the “Defining Moments” class at Olin had the opportunity to hear Mozeliak. He told us what leadership means to him, sharing the correlation between leadership and success within the Cardinals organization. What stuck out to me most about Mozeliak’s leadership tactics were his discipline and adherence to systems and his ability to focus on areas where he can have the most impact.

In the Cards’ organization, individuals receive bimonthly feedback on whether they are at a constant level of performance, improving performance, or declining performance. Those with constant or declining performance levels learn how they can achieve improving performance. This system sounds simple and intuitive, but is difficult. It requires amazing discipline, prioritization, and consistent management to stick to and maintain it.

Mozeliak’s strict adherence to systems, routines, and concepts of organizational management have provided him the means to sustain and enhance the mystical “Cardinal Way.” The key element to managing these systems is his ability to not micro-manage.  The “Cardinal Way”—the organizational philosophy of the team—depends not only on discipline, but also trust.

Mozeliak trusts his people and likewise his people trust him. He provides his team the autonomy and space to run these systems, creating a stronger team on and off the baseball field.

The privilege of listening to our (favorite) baseball team’s president of baseball operations was unforgettable. Mozeliak gave us a window into the hard work and discipline that goes into leading any organization to success—especially a winning baseball team.




Written by Taylor Ohman, MBA ’18, on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center

I had the distinct pleasure of being the student host for our speaker, Ward Klein, former CEO of Energizer. Prior to our meeting, I discovered he began his career in the exact position I will begin mine in four months: Marketing Associate at Nestlé (formerly Ralston) Purina.

This made the “war stories” he shared especially inspiring: I could see them being defining moments I, too, one day might encounter. Although I understand that no two individuals’ career trajectory could ever be the same, I enjoyed imagining myself following his footsteps to a meaningful, successful, and truly impactful career.

After listening to him speak, I believe there are three primary elements that define Ward Klein’s leadership style: a commitment to culture, courage against the unknown, and a sense of responsibility for those that he leads.

Klein’s commitment to culture was apparent from the start, when he described why he chose to work for Purina over other companies. He valued the environment that they worked hard to propagate throughout their organization and recognized the importance this sort of culture has in the shaping of people working within it.

This was impactful for me, as I also recognized Purina for its distinct culture of teamwork. Klein’s commitment to culture continued throughout his career as he managed the difficult task of integrating a new company—with a very different culture—into the Purina “family.”

Even when he assumed the role of CEO at Energizer, this commitment to culture did not waiver. During his speech, he said a majority of his responsibility as the leader of the  company was to define and foster the culture of the organization. By remaining loyal to his values and propagating those values throughout the company, he was able to create a culture that lended to the growth and advancement of all his employees.

Passionate for Challenges

The second element of his leadership style, courage against the unknown, manifested in his willingness to stand up to others and in his passion for taking on difficult and ambiguous projects. Klein shared a moving story about one of the first times he made his boss “turn red in the face with anger” after Klein openly opposed his idea.

The story culminated in Klein signing onto his boss’s idea with an upside-down signature, as done in Japanese culture, to signify his disagreement—but his willingness to follow his boss’s lead. This resonated with his boss, as it was he who originally shared this technique with Klein.

Not only did this show Klein’s propensity for effective communication, but also his courage for standing up for what he believed in. Another time that Klein showed such courage was when he accepted an undefined role in Energizer’s unproven flashlight market.

This effectively diverted his original career path and sent him into territories, both geographical and theoretical, that he knew nothing about. However, it was the challenge and ambiguity of this role that ultimately led Klein to learn more about himself and his company than he could have ever done in his previous role.

Servant Leadership

The final defining element of Ward Klein’s leadership philosophy was an unwavering sense of responsibility to help his employees grow and flourish as leaders themselves. As a leader, Klein said, your job is not to make yourself look good in front of your employees, but instead to be of the most assistance to them.

This servant-leadership approach, and Klein’s absolute commitment to it, has allowed him to earn the genuine and passionate loyalty of his employees. It has also allowed him to create a company that continues to grow and prosper under the legacy of his leadership.

It was these three elements—commitment to culture, courage, and responsibility for others—that I feel combined to create Klein’s unique and effective leadership philosophy. He was an incredibly inspiring speaker and I will remember his lessons for years to come as I embark on my own professional journey as a leader.




Written by Ross J. Brown, BSBA 2018, on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do right by the organization. Stick to your values. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Last Thursday, Michael Holmes imparted his lessons of leadership during his presentation at Olin’s Defining Moments course.

Holmes is chairman and founder of Rx Outreach. This nonprofit company focuses on providing medicine to individuals who cannot afford it. Since its inception in 2010, after originally being a part of Express Scripts, the company has been able to provide 670 medication strengths, by more than 70 employees, serving more than 210,000 patients. Rx Outreach patients have saved than $320 million.

Throughout his career, Holmes has worked at variety of companies and in executive positions with Edward Jones and Express Scripts.

With his charismatic personality, Holmes’ presentation captivated the audience with his story of success—and mistakes—that allowed students to understand his underlying points of respect, values, and reflection. With consistent excellence in his career path, he was also able to demonstrate consistent and equal respect to all his coworkers—from secretaries to superiors.

This equal respect came from his religious beliefs, which he also proudly speaks about. I find this impressive. Religion can be a controversial topic, but Holmes is confident enough in himself and who he is to share this part of his background with others.

Finally, Holmes mentioned that he believes we should “enjoy every step of the journey”—enjoy every victory, learn from mistakes, and ultimately, have fun. The time spent with Michael Holmes was inspiring and enjoyable as we learned how to become better employees, better leaders, and overall better people in and out of the work place.




Most successful leaders are able to point to a handful of defining moments in their careers – instances that defined the trajectory of their career and their company. Olin’s graduate-level course Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top examines these situations by bringing in notable leaders who exemplify both business excellence and personal character.

Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.


Managing change—even drastic change—happens more naturally if a company has built a strong, values-based culture, according to Alaina Macia, MBA ’02, president and CEO of Medical Transport Management.

Speaking to Olin’s “Defining Moments” class recently, Macia highlighted the fact that leading a values-driven organization helps eliminate the fear of implementing drastic changes—as long as the changes are aligned with the company strategy, culture, and values.

Macia provided unique perspective as the female leader of a private, family-owned business—particularly because most of the speakers for our “Defining Moments” class have been senior executives of large public corporations.

Macia started her career as a research engineer at the Washington University School of Medicine, following her undergraduate education at WashU focused in biomedical engineering. After a couple of years as a research engineer, Macia realized she was more attracted to business, and enrolled at Olin for her MBA.

Following her MBA, Macia worked at Maritz Inc., but joined Medical Transportation Management, her family-owned business, as an analyst, and was quickly promoted to director of corporate strategy, VP of operations, and finally to president and CEO.

Culture is a touchstone

A key to MTM’s success is its corporate culture, one that fosters successful company growth and an environment in which employees work hard but also have fun. Maintaining that culture is important in the company’s hiring practices, Macia said.

“MTM hires slow, but fires fast,” she said, stressing the importance of hiring the right individuals for the right roles to maintain the company culture and drive success.

I really enjoyed Macia’s focus on the importance of peer-to-peer learning and surrounding yourself with the appropriate individuals at all stages in your career. When she first joined Medical Transportation Management, Macia admitted she did not know everything she needed to know to be successful.

As such, she made it her mission to surround herself with those who could teach her what she didn’t know and support her through decision-making processes, company reorganizations, and dramatic growth spurts.

Finally, one of the biggest takeaways from Macia’s presentation was her emphasis on self-awareness. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, leadership style, and values will help you understand your colleagues and guide you through your career. Whether you are self-aware or not, she mentioned that it can easily be learned and will only benefit you as a leader.

Macia’s presentation was extremely insightful and a fantastic way to kick off a great class filled with many successful senior executives across all industries.


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