Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2016

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is currently collaborating with colleagues in China, Portugal, Singapore, India, Mexico, and Taiwan. In his young academic career (he started teaching in 2011 at SUNY Buffalo before jump- ing to BYU in 2013), Owens has now worked with at least fifty coauthors on papers and presentations that have been cited north of five hundred times. Forbes, the Washington Post, Inc. magazine, Harvard Business Review, Men's Health, the Atlantic, and the Huffington Post are just a few of the major media outlets that have covered their research. And there is even more to come: Owens has nine manuscripts on humility recently com- pleted with another four research studies in progress. Just reading some of the forthcom- ing titles shows where he and his collabora- tors are headed: "When Proactive Employees Meet Humble Leaders"; "Passion and Humil- ity in Entrepreneurial Leadership"; "Modeling Moral Growth: The Impact of Leader Moral Humility on Follower Ethicality"; and "Humil- ity, Goal Orientation, and Overconfidence." One line of research has him particularly excited: armed with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to continue research on developing humility in leaders, he and colleagues are now working on a paper using MRI data to see how brain waves and neural patterns influence a leader's behavior. UNSINKABLE As Owens builds his name in the field of humility research, he is careful to remember the importance of humility for himself—with something more substantive than awkward family videos. In his tidy office on the sev- enth floor of the Tanner Building, Owens keeps a picture of the ill-fated Titanic on his desk. The ship's tragic history interests him deeply from an academic standpoint and, in many ways, symbolizes the real-world impor- tance of his research. Owens notes that building the Titanic required strong leadership at its best. The modern marvel took not only top-notch engineering and skill but also planning, deci- siveness, vision, and project management at the highest level. It's said that at the ship's launch, crew aboard the Titanic boasted, "Not even God himself could sink this ship." Tempting fate, the proclamation rang with unchecked narcissism. But, as the story goes, the crew of the Titanic received multiple warnings about icebergs from several ships the fateful night it sank. Those warnings went unheeded. "And that's the story of leadership in many instances," Owens says. "People are promoted and get into leadership positions because they are impressive, accomplished, and show many of the traditional leader- ship characteristics, but it's often a lack of humility that causes these same leaders to be derailed, to lose their following, and to perpetuate disaster. It took all of the tradi- tional leadership characteristics to create the Titanic, but humility would have saved it." ABOUT THE AUTHOR Todd Hollingshead is a media relations manager in BYU's University Communications office. A former journalist, Hollingshead holds a bache- lor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in mass communications from BYU. He lives in Orem with his wife, Natalie, their three children, and (quite recently) a dog and a cat. The jury's still out on how long the cat stays. and maximize their own human capital— acknowledging others' strengths, admitting limitations," Owens says. "They focus on growth and development more than just avoiding errors." GAINING TRACTION Now Owens is anxious to see how this col- lective humility influences teams beyond the business world, such as, say, a Navy SEAL squad, a basketball team, a heart surgery unit, or a Marine infantry platoon. In fact, the role of humility in the mili- tary is already the focus of new research for Owens and fellow Romney Institute profes- sor Chris Silvia. Initial findings show that for noncombat leaders, previous research holds true: the higher the humility, the better the outcomes. However, humility appears to be less effective for combat leaders. There's a still lot more research to be done in this area. "We have only begun to compare the effects of leader humility across cultures," Owens says. To expand research in leadership humility across the world, Owens 16 MARRIOTT

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