I am a computer engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. I chose engineering because I love problem solving and have always wanted to create useful things for the world. I hope to use the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute to further develop my practical problem solving skills as well as the necessary skills to succeed as a leader in the business world.
Sam Werley, member of Cohort 4 of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, explains how transformational leadership is like cooking.
Well, I’m sure many of you here know how to cook. Some of you may be better than others, and some of you might not know how to cook at all, but that’s okay! You do know that when it comes to cooking it often requires a recipe, a set of instructions on what you need and what to do. See, the world is really complex – And how do we solve this complexity? We take our problems and we break them down into smaller pieces. Um and we often take the solutions to these problems and write them down so that other people can use them. Children are given directions, companies have procedures, and chefs follow recipes. A recipe is a set of instructions, or guidelines that map out how to take one thing and change it and make it into something better. And often this process requires heat. There’s things such as fires, chemical reactions, even metal working and forging, and of course baking and cooking. Now all of these sorts of things make sense. To the modern world they’re easy and we do it all the time. So here’s the real issue facing us today: How do you change people? How do you take a person and transform them into a better leader? In a world that demands leadership more than it demands material things, how do we transform people? Well just like with material stuff, in order to transform a leader, you need a recipe. The recipe that I’m going to talk to you about today is the recipe for leadership, or in other words: Transformational leadership. How do you take a person and transform them into a better leader? Well the first thing that you’ll need is a crucible. Now you may have heard of this before in a ny leadership book or course. Crucibles are these really trying times that push you and make you see the world differently. It could range from anything like a really tough assignment at work to the death of a loved one. Now a crucible is also a great analogy for the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, a 3 year program that I’ve gone through that focuses entirely on this same subject: transformational leadership. Here is the recipe that the institute follows. And I believe that if you take this recipe, you can apply it to almost anyone and transform them into a better leader. So it all starts with the Ingredients, and a lot of these ingredients are pretty standard when it comes to leadership development, but not all. There are some key differences. So the first ingredient is the people. Obviously you need people as this is the main ingredient you are trying to change. In the case of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, this involves about 20 engineering students at Miami University at the top of their class. Students each year are placed in a Cohort of individuals. They spend 3 years together developing and growing. They learn in a classroom once a week and also work together on projects outside the classroom. These students all have similar goals they’re all obviously focusing on engineering and are in their early twenties and trying to prepare for life after an undergraduate degree. But diversity is also key. All of these students come from different backgrounds and walks of life. Now most college students don’t have a class with the same people for three years, and what this does is it creates a closed space. Think of it like the walls of the crucible, but I’ll get back to that later. Next are the lessons. Now this is all of the classwork and leadership theory, discussions, and books that the students read. And a lot of this is stuff that is typically meant for business leaders but these college students are exposed to it at a young age. They talk about topics like the difference between groups and successful teams and the differences between what makes a good manager and what makes a good leader. They work through their own Myers Briggs types to learn about their strengths and weaknesses and how they work together on a team. They learn about blind spots in their leadership due to their biases and even work through business models. They also read lots of books, things like “7 habits of highly effective people”, “HBR Top 10 Must Reads”, and “The Art of Possibility”. They also hear from amazing speakers across many different disciplines. People like Jeff Smith from IBM, Nicole Smith from NASA, Madame Secretary Madeleine Albright, and even Jeff Wilcox the VP of engineering for Lockheed Martin itself. Students also improve their global awareness through things like Miami Meets India, the Global Rhythms Concert, and get to talk with speakers from places like India and Rwanda. Now all of this sort of stuff you might get in a week long business seminar, but definitely not to the same extent as a three year program. Now think of these lessons as the stew, the sort of reactants in a chemical reaction. They are the foundation for learning and growth. But next comes the application of all this theory which comes in the form of teamwork and projects. This is what sets it apart from just a normal seminar. See these projects first of all have personal impact. Things like—students work on things like a vision board where they learn what’s important to them. They write in learning journals where they write down daily learnings and keep track. They work on personal finance so that they know how to be successful once they leave school. They even develop a leadership development plan which covers their strengths, weakness and plans for the future. Students also work in “True North” groups that are tight nit groups that work together to tackle deep personal issues and build a support system. They also have projects that have outside meaning and impact. Things like Engineers Week, which the students have run which is a week long celebration of STEM fields that involved a banquet, conferences and speakers. They worked on something called “Start the Trend”, which was a conference to tackle the lack of women in STEM fields. And even did an entire project called “Listen for Insight” where they developed a website and podcasts from the ground up interviewing different business leaders. The projects are the source of the heat. Put it all together and you have a crucible. You have the pressure of the enclosed space (cohorts that spend 3 years together). You have all of the ingredients which are the lessons and the theory. And the heat comes from the projects which have real world meaning, impact, deadlines, and pressure. This is what truly sets it apart from a seminar. Projects aren’t just meaningful but they are challenging and students really have to work hard to meet deadlines. Its just like baking: you can take all the ingredients for a cake and put it into a bowl but nothing really happens until you put it into the oven and add heat. You’re not just allowing for growth as a leader, you’re forcing it out – this is what causes change and this is the cause of growth. So what does this crucible lead to and why does it matter? Well it helps prepare people for life outside of the classroom. Classrooms are really good for learning but they’re not the best model of work life in the real world and the kind of stuff that people do on a day-to-day basis. So the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute is a better model for how people interact in a work environment. This crucible builds better communication and teamwork skills. Students understand what makes a team successful. It requires bonding and establishment of a common goal that everyone can work towards. These lessons have already helped me personally in my internships and other work experience. It’s hard to see the advantages of what the institute does while I’m still in the classroom, but after actually having applied it in a real work environment I can say life doesn’t always have clear instructions and due dates. Companies care less about individual metrics, and more about team metrics and accomplishing team goals. So why does this matter and what are the results? Well as I’ve said it has already helped me personally and alumni of the program are quick to say that the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute was one of the most important things they did as an undergraduate. And now you might be thinking, “How does this apply to me? I’m not in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute. I might not even be in college”. Well like I’ve said, the key take away is the recipe: the crucible. This is what causes transformation. The Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute is just a great model for it. All it takes is the ingredients and the recipe and the crucible (that’s the key component). And that’s how you transform yourself into a better leader. Learn from your crucibles in life. They are transformational by nature. Reflect and focus on how they make you grow. Seminars, speeches and even TED Talks are good for learning but true growth and transformation comes from the heat; from the experiences. And applying the theory to your experiences. Thank you.
Categories | Inside the Institute
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