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‘Confidence Without Attitude Is Critical For Today’s Leaders’

‘Confidence without attitude is critical for today’s leaders’

‘Confidence without attitude is critical for today’s leaders’

In the fourth episode of The Quarterly Interview: Provocations to Ponder , Ann Harrison, dean of the Haas School of Business, talks about what it takes to develop leaders for the modern era, and what makes for a great business education today. What will it take to be a successful leader in the future? That question is top of mind these days, given the turbulence of the past few years, and Ann Harrison is in a unique position to address it. She’s the dean of the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business—the second woman to lead that top-ranked business school. She’s also the former director of development policy at the World Bank and a renowned economist whose research has focused on international trade and global labor markets. Most Popular Insights Author Talks: The world’s longest study of adult development finds the key to happy living What is generative AI? The executive’s guide to new-business building A CEO’s guide to the metaverse Generative AI is here: How tools like ChatGPT could change your business In the four years since Harrison started leading Haas, she’s made big changes. She has led a major diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) effort, diversifying the profile of the Haas faculty and the student body: 49 percent of the school’s most recent class were students of color. She has woven sustainability content deep into the curriculum while maintaining the school’s historical focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. And she even introduced the school’s first virtual MBA program. Given all this, Harrison offers a unique perspective on the future of leadership at a moment when change and disruption increasingly seem like the norms for doing business. She recently joined McKinsey chief marketing officer Tracy Francis and McKinsey Quarterly editorial director Rick Tetzeli for a wide-ranging discussion on this and other timely issues. An edited version of their conversation follows. Rick Tetzeli: We are excited to talk with you; it seems like a great time to talk about leadership of the future. With all the instability in the air, there’s talk that we may be at the beginning of some sort of new era that requires new leaders. So why don’t you start off by telling us what kind of leader you are hoping to develop at Haas? Ann Harrison: When you log on to our website, it says “the heart of what’s next.” Our students become leaders who are strong in both analytical and technical skills and who really anticipate the challenges of the future. That could be in everything from real estate, where we’re talking about the new designs for a built environment with shifting climate risk, to the healthcare marketplace, which increasingly incorporates technology to accommodate rising costs in aging populations. So we’re at the heart of what’s next in terms of the kind of transformations that we’re all seeing happen. But I would say that what really characterizes Berkeley leaders, and what has always been true, is that they also lead with their hearts. They’re very empathetic. And I think that’s what makes a Berkeley leader really unique. They’re blending this amazingly rigorous education that you can get at Berkeley and at Haas with this enormous commitment to social mobility and the problems of the future. Rick Tetzeli: Is the effort to create empathetic leaders a distraction from the core mission of learning how to succeed in business? Ann Harrison: Not at all. In our case, we have always had this dual focus on educational rigor and important social obligation. That’s part of our mission as a public school: to promote social mobility, sustainability, inclusion. For example, we’ve now added a core required course on being effective at leading diverse teams. Another thing that we’re doing now, very systematically, is weaving content about how climate change is affecting business into all our required courses. So if you take an accounting course, you will learn about how disclosure risk is shifting. If you take a finance course, you will talk about constructing different kinds of portfolios. In our case, we have always had this dual focus on educational rigor and important social obligation. That’s part of our mission as a public school: to promote social mobility, sustainability, inclusion. Tracy Francis: Ann, something we think about a lot is leadership that can drive what we call “sustainable, inclusive growth.” Financial growth alone won’t cut it anymore. For long-term success, leaders need to create growth that is also sustainable and inclusive. How does that fit with […]

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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