Tag: Bauer Leadership Center



Emily Pitts

“Stop tip-toeing around these difficult topics,” said Emily Pitts, principal of diversity and inclusion at Edward Jones, as she began her Women and Leadership talk.

Pitts has been in the financial industry for 33 years and as an African American woman, it wasn’t difficult for her to recognize that the industry isn’t historically diverse. Pitts’s drive and ability to overcome adversity was striking and admirable. Her passion for the finance space was tangible as she reflected on her time at Edward Jones.

Even still, she sees room for change.

In order to raise the company’s awareness on issues of diversity and inclusion, Pitts first had to open up about her past struggles within the workplace. Pitts shared with her boss the brutal incidents of racism that had affected her at work. Her unbelievable honesty and vulnerability created a launching pad into her diversity role.

Pitts wasn’t satisfied with just sharing her own experience. She wanted to change the face of the company.

She urged the company to discuss difficult topics that people are often “tip-toeing around,” such as how men and women interact in the workplace, how employees can be their authentic self, and the reality of visible and invisible barriers at work. Pitts believes that breaking into these difficult topics is the first step toward change.

However the conversation doesn’t stop there.

Pitts managed to create a cross-cultural development program. Edward Jones noticed that it was attracting diverse talent, but having trouble retaining employees. Pitts had the answer: With this new development program, Pitts gave anyone who may feel out of place a community.

This space created a system of mentoring and support that allows Edward Jones employees to face challenges together and work to improve the company from within. Pitts reminds us that “diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is being able to pick the music.”

Pitts wants to transform Edward Jones into a place of belonging. Emily Pitts displays incredible strength and resilience in her ability to take her personal struggles and translate them into change in workplace diversity and inclusion.




The Center for Experiential Learning fellows program works to shape great business students into great business leaders. The CEL fellows, an impressive group of MBAs, just met for their second Captain’s Table, where they discussed the challenges and setbacks that come with leading a team.

The group split up to discuss a case that depicts a team leader dealing with a team member who is smart, but unmotivated and disrespectful. Looking to open up the fictional teammate’s untapped potential, the fellows debriefed with Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor of international affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership, and drew out the following lessons that focus on values-based leadership.

Communicate expectations early

CEL Director Daniel Bentle quoted George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

It’s important to set expectations and set a tone from the beginning. The team leader in the case did set expectations from the start, but she made the grave mistake of not including the team. If you build expectations with your team instead of alone, the expectations will feel more like an agreed-upon team contract than a set of rules to break.

In addition to setting expectations, the team leader should facilitate an understanding of each teammate’s motivation in the project. For example, the disrespectful team member was mainly focused on job searching. If the team lead had capitalized on this information early on, she could have worked to use this information to motivate him. Explaining how the project could be a great conversation topic in interviews or good content for his resume would be a great way to get this team member on board.

Build trust with your team

Building trust with each individual teammate is an essential step toward team success. Conn Davis, MBA ’17, said, “The key to business is personal relationships.”

Following Davis’s advice, the fellows agreed it was important to set up one-on-one meetings with each teammate to get to know them. Showing interest in your team on a personal level helps to build trust and works to reinforce the expectations you’ve previously set.

Listen and adapt

Even if you follow the above lessons, road bumps are bound to happen. For example, the teammate focused on recruiting may come in late to every meeting. Using lines of communication, you might find out that it’s because he has a meeting right before that he’s running from.

Listening to his reasoning and adapting to shift the meeting 15 minutes later will increase team efficiency. As a successful team leader, you have to be ready to adapt to produce the greatest results.




Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Last week, the Bauer Leadership fellows discussed the challenges and responsibilities of a leader. All fellows are MBA students serving as Center for Experiential Learning team leads for a project within their practicum program. In this role, they need to manage relationships with their teammates, mentors, and clients.

To navigate these winding roads successfully, they collaborated and role played tough situations to understand how to solve problems and create impact as a leader. To extend this conversation beyond the meeting walls, I wanted to share their words of wisdom here to continue building values-based leaders here at WashU.

Communicate Early; Set Goals; Manage Expectations

Many fellows discussed coming into a team with prior friendships with other members. Established relationships can be difficult to break, especially if you are coming into a role as a superior with a team of fellow students. It is important to set the goals up front for you as a leader and other team members in various roles to give them freedom and leadership.

This allows everyone to have responsibilities where they can shine. It also grounds you with a sense of authority and respect.

And these conversations go beyond the team, too. Each group has a mentor to guide them through the practicum. They are there for guidance and to provide a more experienced perspective, but making sure they are doing this properly can be difficult.

Taylor Ohman, previous CEL team lead and BLC Fellow, said it well: “This is the Center for Experiential Learning—the point is to work through the struggles and learn how to do better.”

With this in mind, its important for this mentor to let students solve problems to learn and grow in this safe space.

Take on the Responsibility of the Team

As one of the fellows said it, be a “leader servant.” Leaders will get much of the praise when things go well—and all of the brunt if they don’t. If another teammate is having an off week, it is on the leader to pick up the slack.

And if nitty-gritty administrative work needs to be done, it is important for the leader to pick up on it to allow the rest of the team to focus on the parts that matter most to them. As a leader, it is your job to bring the best out of your team.

Sometimes, that means doing the not-so-glamorous work and taking the fall when things go wrong. But it’s also important to know how to bounce back.

Adapt, Improvise, and Shift Plans, If Needed

Of course, you can set goals and take on hard responsibilities, but some things just might not go as you thought—and that’s OK. As a leader, it is critical to learn how to act on your feet and continually manage performance.

If someone is not performing up to par, discuss it with this person in a direct, mature, and decisive manner. Improvise on what their responsibilities are to provide tasks that can be benchmarks for success. Every team member will work differently, so work to understand these differences to create a cohesive team dynamic.




The Bauer Leadership Fellows Program provides experiential leadership development for team leaders who lead CEL practicum teams. Recently, the BLC fellows had the opportunity to go to Creve Coeur Lake for a leadership development rowing retreat. BLC fellows reflect back on what they took away from the rowing experience.

Place Trust in the Team

BLC fellow Elizabeth Hailand, MBA ’19, described how effectiveness in crew widely paralleled effectiveness in team leadership. Like a team, a crew requires trust in all members to stay afloat. As rowing is a coordinated team activity, if one crew member is out of sync, the entire team is put at a disadvantage. Trust in each other is vital to rowing an effective boat.

Lead by Listening

Trusting the team also means allowing others to naturally take the lead. To keep the boat balanced, rowers with more practice stepped forward. BLC fellow Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18, reflected how the rowing retreat pushed natural leaders to listen, and allowed those with more experience to take the lead. This was a reminder to those in charge not to get caught up in their own status, but focus on the team vision.

Understand How to Motivate Your Team

Success in rowing is also attributed to effectiveness in coaching. As rowing is an exhausting workout, having the right motivation is essential. A fellow shared how the coach would sometimes “cold call” a single member of the boat to row.

While this fellow enjoyed this type of personal coaching, they learned that it did not suit all of their crew members. This helped the fellow appreciate the importance of a leader to understand the team dynamics. A strong leader knows how to motivate and encourage each individual team member, while not compromising the project goal.

Apart from proving its worth as a physically strenuous workout, the Creve Coeur rowing retreat was a great opportunity to reflect first hand on leadership values and implementation. As one fellow shared after the rowing experience, since January, they have grown as leaders from driving meetings to now acting as facilitators of great and healthy content within meetings.




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.