Thursday, January 1, 2009

1st Semester Summary - LOB (Part I)

Let's continue with the 1st semester recap and dive into the Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LOB) class, which was taught by Dr. Chet Miller.  While my grade didn't necessarily reflect that I understood this class extremely well, in hindsight I'd have to say that this class will probably prove to be one of the most valuable I take during my WFU MBA program.  I say that for a couple reasons:
  1. Dr. Miller brings so much energy and passion to every class that you can't help but have fun and be enthusiastic about trying to understands the concepts he's teaching.  His enthusiasm and delivery style definitely taught me the power of bringing energy to the room and allow people to gain strength from it.  It's something I need to better incorporate into my presentation style.  In addition, Dr. Miller was separated at birth from NBA coach Rick Carlisle, and his style throughout a typical class is not unlike watching a basketball coach go through a game.  It starts up with a crisp coat and tie.  The tie quickly loosens as the teaching begins.  The coat comes off after the 1st period.  The sleeves are rolled-up after halftime and by the 4th quarter he's pacing the classroom encouraging the discussion to another level.  We often worried that he may pull something as he frequently "punched" the air or slid across the room to emphasize a talking point, but as far as we know he never went on the Injured Reserve list during the semester.  
  2. The core of this course is people and how they are organized, motivated, led or manipulated within a company structure.  It dives into optimal and flawed organizational structures.  We looked at personality traits and styles of leaders in different industries and levels of companies.  Leadership styles were examined in depth, to better understand what worked best under certain circumstances.  Motivation was studied in depth, in terms of compensation models, individuals vs. groups, goal settings and analysis of success.  And throughout the course, we were always reminded to balance our analysis of this content against analytic data, either through direct measurement or research in this field of study.  "So sayeth the data" was a mantra that we heard over and over, as "common sense", "intuition" or "gut feelings" were often proven to be in opposition to the previously mentioned analysis data.   
This course covered topics and business cases that I expect that I will refer back to time and time again throughout my career.  It taught us the value of creating systems that allow high commitment and high involvement management, and how to address people-specific issues within those systems.