Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2016

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Building Stories, Branding Leaders In the second half of the semester, students learn how their individual leadership styles fit into an organi- zation. They study how leaders can change organizations and influence behavior. They also discuss mana- gerial challenges and how people respond to motivators such as com- pensation and company culture. "There are a number of ways in which leaders can influence others to perform well and do better," LeBaron says. "We talk about all of them, but we discuss specifi- cally the ways in which leaders influence others through storytelling." In the final assignment, students perfect their storytell- ing skills by creating a leadership profile. The profile has three components: where the students have been, where they are now, and where they are going—in essence, the past, present, and future. It's a narrative the students will MBA professor Curtis LeBaron takes a story- based approach to leadership education. gandhi has a story. Winston Churchill has a story. Martin Luther King Jr. has a story. Great leadership is interwoven with great stories, and often this leader- ship comes when leaders perceive the power of their own stories. The Marriott School's MBA pro- gram recognizes this link between leadership and story, drawing on it to mold great leaders. As a means of helping MBA students develop their stories and messages, all cohorts kick off the program with a first-semester course on leadership. "The most important thing stu- dents learn in the class is how to articulate their stories," says Curtis LeBaron, a Marriott School professor who teaches the course. New MBA students spend the first half of the semester identifying their story and building their own leader- ship brand—drawing on their inter- ests, passions, skills, and abilities. This helps match students with their leadership styles. use throughout their job searches and career. "When students are able to artic- ulate their past—including their convictions and where they came from—in relation to the present, and then relate both of those to where they want to go," LeBaron says, "they can effectively show recruit- ers how they plan to move forward and build on what they've previously accomplished." The training is paying off: last year's post-graduation placement rate was 91 percent, and many stu- dents will tell you it was the story- telling and interview skills learned in the leadership course that helped them land that first job. "One of the most powerful tools you can have is your own story," says Parley Vernon, a second-year MBA student from Alpine, Utah. "Creating and telling a story that resonates is essential for making a successful tran- sition. In interviews I was able to tell my own story instead of just listing off résumé points, which helped me land my internship with Visa." Along with boosting professional development, the course also fur- thers the Marriott School's mission to develop "men and women of faith, character, and professional ability who will become outstanding leaders." "Our deliberate approach to lead- ership development, and a particular focus on building on one's strengths, benefits not only our students," says outgoing MBA director John Bing- ham, "but also benefits the companies where they work, the communities where they live, the families they rear, and the church callings they serve in." —M'LeAh RickeR MAnueLe "In interviews I was able to tell my own story instead of just listing off résumé points, which helped me land my internship." — parley vernon 17 fall 2016

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