Tag: Bauer Leadership Center



It’s hard to keep the sighing, heavy-eyed students of a night class engaged. But on this Tuesday evening, I sat in a buzzing room—with classmates swapping stories of stuffing and stitches from their first Build-A-Bear experience. Taking the podium to kick off our Women in Leadership class that night was Maxine Clark, philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, and the founder and former “Chief Executive Bear” of the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail company.

Over the next two hours, Maxine took our class through her career journey, explaining some of the personal and professional decisions that she made along the way. From leaving Payless to launch her own company, to leading projects supporting education and nonprofits in St. Louis, Maxine embraces change while staying true to her core values. I left class that night with a few favorite nuggets of wisdom to carry with me:

Be open to the teachers around you.

Maxine has a very apparent appreciation for the teachers in her life, and she recognizes that they come in all forms—whether a schoolteacher, supervisor, or child (Build-a-Bear’s core customer). In being open to learning from others, Maxine has found the strength to improve from mistakes, the drive to rise to challenges and surpass expectations, and even the inspiration to build new businesses.

Passions change. Keep up.

At the heart of Maxine’s story is an unshakeable faith and courage in following her passions. With several career pivots—becoming an entrepreneur and then entering the nonprofit space—she has maintained the self-awareness to recognize that her passions are malleable, yet always worth chasing. By embracing her passions at different stages of her career, Maxine continues to feel fulfilled in her work.

Live and lead with authenticity.

You can’t help but love Maxine’s unapologetic attitude. Her words are charged with a certain fearlessness and wrapped in sincerity. Maxine’s ventures speak to her values, and she makes no excuses for conducting business in a way that is authentic to who she is and the things which are personally important to her. As her talk came to a close, she signed off: “That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.”

Guest Blogger: Neelam Vyas, MBA ’18 & GSBA President




This month the inaugural class of the Bauer Leadership Fellows Program, which provides leadership development training for students in Practicum consulting teams, traveled to Creve Coeur Lake in West St. Louis County  to learn the sport of rowing from WashU Coach Andrew Black.

The fellows were divided in two groups to navigate the trials and tribulations of teamwork.

To some, rowing may seem unrelated to business leadership, but the Bauer Fellows quickly connected the dots and uncovered important takeaways. Here’s what fellows Molly Goldstein and David Allston learned while rowing on the lake:

1. Leadership requires trust and humor

Teams build a stronger rapport by being light-hearted, getting to know one another, and cracking a joke when necessary. With this stronger camaraderie, Molly noticed that the fellows trusted each other more in the harder moments of exercise. As a leader, she finds it crucial to foster spaces where the team can build rapport, since trust is essential for team success.

2. Communication is key to navigating a difficult situation

The fellows had limited knowledge of rowing terms and maneuvers that would help them move together on the water. But through trial and error, they found a rhythm of words and gestures that allowed them to communicate well and, ultimately, win the race. As a leader, Molly knows she will encounter teams who struggle to communicate. She believes a part of her role will include supporting the team though the initial hardship of finding common language to improve project execution.

3. Be patient and humble

Both Molly and David highlighted that it is okay to be a beginner—and when your team faces a new experience, it is important as a leader to have patience. Molly says:

“Rowing is something I’d never tried before—and I don’t think I’ll be ready for competition any time soon! But the challenge of a new task is something any good leader seeks. As a leader, I will encourage myself (and my team) to find opportunities to try new things and find new strengths we didn’t know we had.”

When it came to David’s experience in the boat, he noticed that the veteran rowers acted as strong leaders; instead of being hard on the novice rowers, they pointed out mistakes and supported the team. Contrarily, the other team did not feel this same support and were left frustrated and disengaged. David concluded that patient leaders are crucial to making a team feel excited, engaged, and valued.

David noted, “Leadership happens everywhere in an organization, and good leaders are always leading, even when they are not in charge.”

In unfamiliar situations, think through how you can communicate better, build trust and camaraderie, and be patient—you too could be a leader, anywhere, when the time arises.

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, Bauer Leadership Center




The Bauer Leadership Fellows program is designed to help students advance their leadership capacity and refine and understand their values and strengths. A few weeks ago, we began this exploration process with our fellows at the first annual Captain’s Chair Meeting, jointly hosted by the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and the Bauer Leadership Center (BLC).

What we learned: the first step toward strong leadership is clear communication.

Our fellows broke into small groups to discuss various challenging leadership situations and how leaders can navigate them successfully. The key deliverable needed: clear communication among clients, team members, and advisors.

Here are a few steps to follow to be a compelling, communicative leader:

1. Set expectations up front

Ensure each team member feels equally valued and understands ways they can create impact. Address critical questions and conversations with managers or advisors upfront and align goals.

2. Provide continual feedback

As work progresses, each member should understand where they are excelling and falling short, so that they can continue growing. This continual loop of feedback is crucial for the success of a team and creating a strong outcome for a client.

3. Focus on results

At the end of the day, everyone wants to drive results for the client, and this is important to reiterate throughout to stay on task and maintain team alignment.

Session one of our BLC Captain’s Chair is complete, and you can follow along here through our blog and social media posts (@BauerCTRFacebook: Bauer Leadership Center).

The Bauer Leadership Center’s fellowship process focuses on robust learning and practical hands-on development through serving as consulting project team leaders for CEL Practicum teams. We will be posting helpful tips learned at various points along the way.

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, Bauer Leadership Center




“The thing about valuing values,” Stuart Bunderson told EQ, “is that ultimately they will help you navigate uncharted waters as a founder or entrepreneur.” The interview with the media platform that covers the St. Louis startup ecosystem previewed this week’s seminar, “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs,” scheduled for Sept. 20, 4-6pm, in Emerson Auditorium, Knight Hall. The event is part of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center Values and Leadership Series, presented in partnership with Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and Washington University’s Executive MBA program.

Bunderson is co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center and will present a lecture at the seminar followed by a panel discussion. See the schedule below. Bunderson told EQ:

“Strong values will help define how your company responds to pressure, say it if can’t make payroll, or how it treats its customers, or cares for employees. For many early-stage founders, these ideas may seem too far ahead to think about, but the truth is that if values are not clearly articulated and firmly defended from a venture’s earliest days, founders have little chance of creating companies that embody their most deeply-held values.”

Related blog post.

Register today for “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs.” There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.

Forum Format
4:00 p.m.The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs – Lecture by Stuart Bunderson, George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance and Co-Director of the Bauer Leadership Center

4:30 – 5:15 p.m. Panel Discussion

Panelists:
Joe Edwards, Owner-Developer, Blueberry Hill
Jennifer Labit, Founder and CEO, Cotton Babies, Executive MBA Alumna
Brian Matthews, Co-Founder and General Partner, Cultivation Capital
Aaron Perlut, Partner, Elasticity
Andrea Simon, Ph.D., Corporate Anthropologist, President, Simon Associates Management Consultants

Moderated by:
Cliff Holekamp, Olin Business School, Academic Director of Entrepreneurship




Business owners trying to keep the lights on likely place “instilling culture” among their lower priorities (that is, if it makes the “priority list” at all). Articulating the values of a company often comes second to growing the business—but largely, that is a false choice. Identifying which values to build your company upon is an integral part of determining the company’s mission, goals, and overall strategy.

An upcoming panel discussion, “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs,” explores the challenges businesses face when articulating their values. I asked Stuart Bunderson, George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance and co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center, and the panel’s moderator, Cliff Holekamp, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and director of the entrepreneurship platform, to shed light on why crafting values and a strong culture is critical to success.

Why is it important to articulate core values in the early stages of a venture?

Holekamp: While in the early stage, young ventures are evolving and still figuring out who they’re going to be when they grow up. It’s at this formative time when a leader has the most impact on instilling the values that will become part of company culture for years to come. If you aren’t purposeful about the values and culture of your early-stage venture, then you’ll end up with a later-stage venture whose values and culture are accidental.

Bunderson: In the earliest stages of a new business, every decision can set a precedent and become a statement on what the organization values and aspires to become. Those decisions should therefore be made with a clear sense of the values that founders would like their organization to embody.

What challenges do founders face in articulating and instilling these values?

Holekamp: Perhaps the biggest challenge is to remain authentic to yourself and to your business. There are lots of positive values in this world, but as a founder you need to emphasize those that are true to who you are. As a leader, you are influencing your business and its constituents with every unintended word and action. If you choose a company culture that is an honest extension of your own best self, then it will be much easier, and more likely, that your business will be consistently infused with those values.

Bunderson: Pressures to chase funding or make near-term performance goals can lead founders to compromise on values. When founders cling to their core values in spite of those pressures, those values become part of the organization’s fabric.

What role do entrepreneurial values play in family firms that may not be the case in corporate firms?

Bunderson: Family firms may explicitly pursue values that corporations would not, values related to things like promoting the family’s good name and broader impact, providing learning opportunities for family members, or encouraging family members’ self-reliance.

Why should founders prioritize values and culture?

Holekamp: Both employees and customers want to be a part of something that is greater than a mere transaction of money for goods or services. A company that honestly conveys values offers something more than those that don’t.

Bunderson: Founders should prioritize values for two reasons. Core values that are woven into the fabric of the company can be a key source of competitive advantage that is not easily replicated. But perhaps just as importantly, if not more importantly, many founders want to create a company that stands for something besides just profitability.

What do you hope business leaders take away from the upcoming panel discussion?

Holekamp: Entrepreneurs and small business owners have the special opportunity to leverage their own personal values as a strategic advantage in business—a competitive advantage that their corporate rivals should envy. My hope is that more entrepreneurs recognize this, and leverage it to their own business and personal advantage.

Bunderson: A reminder of why values should be top of mind as they work to create a new venture.

Register today for “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs.” There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.


About Stuart Bunderson & Cliff Holekamp

Professor Bunderson is the co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center and the George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance. He is also an honorary professor with the faculty of economics and business at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. He holds a PhD degree in Strategic Management and Organization from the University of Minnesota and BS and MS degrees from Brigham Young University. His award-winning research on issues of leadership and meaningful work has been published in leading management journals.

 

Cliff Holekamp grew up in Los Angeles and worked as an account executive for IBM in Nashville before coming to Olin, first as a student. After developing the concept in Olin’s entrepreneurship program, he founded a chain of healthcare centers which he later sold to a private equity group. Prof. Holekamp was the founding director of the Entrepreneurship Platform, was the co-founder and architect of the social entrepreneurship programs at Olin and at the Brown School of Social Work, and has launched several new entrepreneurship courses including programs in Hungary and Israel. In addition to teaching, he is a co-founder and general partner at Cultivation Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.


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