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Authentic Leadership Characteristics (International Days’ session)

What makes an authentic leader? This is the question that Professor Todd Henshaw, Director of Executive Leadership Programs and former Director of Military Leadership, West Point, sought to answer during his session for Senior Management Programs (AD-2, AD and D-1) participants during the International Days program.

Professor Henshaw used the real-life example of the MTS Oceanos –a cruise liner that was evacuated by its entertainment staff after its captain abandoned ship when it began to sink– to encourage participants to reflect on what makes a leader and what responsibilities they have.

Through discussion/collaboration with participants, Professor Henshaw created a list of leadership enabling characteristics/traits, including the following:

  • Compassion
  • Empathy (the why)
  • Grit
  • Self-control
  • Courage (the how)
  • Creative improvisation/learning agility
  • Strategy
  • Presence (used to being in the spotlight)
  • Social engagement
  • Swift trust (ability to quickly establish a relationship)
  • Self-control
  • Communication
  • Goal-oriented

Drawing on his experience at West Point and with the U.S. military, Professor Henshaw worked with participants to identify ways to encourage authentic leadership within themselves and their teams, sharing his personal Leader Journey Line. Authenticity involves people being able to connect on a human level and encourages risk taking and experimentation.

“Do you have a holding environment where people can make mistakes, where you can give them challenging jobs, where you can coach them and help them through, where you actually build them up?” Professor Henshaw asked participants. “If you have a holding environment where there’s so much structure that people can’t make decisions, they stay static, and they never grow.”

In addition to the interactive sessions led by Wharton faculty, AD, AD-2, and D-1 participants were able to interact with their classmates from other campuses while enjoying three days of learning, improving, and networking. For more information on the 2018 International Sessions, click here.

Professor Todd Henshaw

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