Tag: George and Carol 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




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




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.




How do you provide focus to a 100-year-old company?  Diane Sullivan set out to answer that question in 2011 when she was named CEO of Caleres, a global footwear company with a diverse portfolio of brands.

Diane Sullivan, CEO, President, and Chairman, Caleres

Diane Sullivan, CEO, President, and Chairman, Caleres

Having been named President in 2004 and COO in 2006, Sullivan was already a seasoned executive within the footwear industry. With this experience, she successfully led Caleres (formerly Brown Shoe) through a name – and identity – change that was symbolic of the company’s shift under her leadership.

We were honored to have Diane Sullivan share her leadership experience with the Defining Moments class.

As a kid, Diane grew up “earning it every day,” a mentality that still serves her well.  As CEO, this manifests itself in a leader who does not shy away from hard work and who also has a willingness to ask questions and to listen.

Diane’s curiosity has been vital to Caleres’ sustained success in the fast-paced shoe industry. With the explosive growth of e-commerce, especially mobile purchasing, a dynamic leader who understands how to deliver the product in light of shifting consumer behavior is of paramount importance.

In order to achieve success in this industry, Diane also recognizes the importance of collaboration with all stakeholders. Firmly believing that, it is perhaps not surprising that such a collaborative approach has coincided with Caleres reporting very strong performance across several metrics during her tenure as CEO.

The biggest takeaways I have learned from Diane is valuing teamwork, having curiosity, and growing through adversity can help you be successful.

Guest Blogger: Danny Henry, MBA’17

 




Mike Matheny was a speaker at Olin’s “Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top” course. 

“Leadership and high-level achievements go hand-in-hand,” began Mike Matheny during his presentation at Olin’s Defining Moments course in January. Mike is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, a role he’s held since 2012. Mike was a professional baseball player, playing as catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, and the San Francisco Giants before hanging up his gloves in 2006. After his stint as a professional catcher, he became involved in youth sports, coaching Little League, publishing a book on youth sports, as well as starting a non-profit, the Catch Twenty-Two Foundation, before following the infamous Tony La Russa in becoming the Cardinal’s manager. Mike has won numerous awards and accolades, both as a player and as a coach. He is a four-time winner of the Gold Glove award as well as the youngest and most winning manager in recent history.

Mike Matheny is a high-performer, having achieved the pinnacle of baseball by playing in the Major Leagues. It’s not his position, but his performance that Mike says makes him to be a leader—and he believes that high performers are leaders because others want to follow them. Mike shared with us five attributes that separate the highest performers from the rest. He believes that living a lifestyle of learning, having the discipline and focus to do the right thing, being inherently tough with grit, having positive energy, and selflessness are the hallmarks of high-performing leaders. Matheny goes further to say that showing up with energy and enthusiasm are non-negotiable for any leader, quoting his mentor, Willie McGee: “Some people light up a room when they enter, some when they leave.”

Guest blogger: Tony Nuber is a 2017 MBA Candidate in the Full-time MBA Program at Olin Business School. 


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