Custom-fit leadership: Fox student leaders pinpoint how to effectively manage at annual CSPD conference
As a student professional organization (SPO)
officer, Patrik Fornander didn’t realize that his neutral method of interacting
with his fellow student leaders might not be the best approach – until he
attended the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD)’s 14th Annual
“When I started out, I approached all of our
officers the same way,” said Fornander, the 2009-2010 vice president of the
International Business Association at Fox. “I told them that their tasks needed
to be done by a certain date. I also sent out e-mails saying the same thing in
the exact same manner and tone to everyone.”
But, as one of 85 SPO leaders invited to attend the
October 2009 conference at Alter Hall, Fornander learned that different
personalities require different types of assessment and incentive.
Outlining skill sets
Sponsored by CSPD corporate partner the Vanguard
Group, the leadership retreat featured speaker Diane Tiger, who has been shaping leaders for 16 years and
managing for more than 25.
“I lead a staff every day. It’s not just theory,”
said Tiger, Vanguard’s manager of talent acquisition and development. Tiger
lectured Fox SPO leaders on what she considers the “key to success” as students
move into the business world.
“I chose to focus energy on a core leadership
principle, which is that each individual should be treated as just that –
individuals,” she said.
“The way we outlined it was to consider two
things,” Tiger said, “risk – high, medium or low – combined with the skill set
of the individual – a high, medium or low level of proficiency.”
According to Tiger’s criteria, a leader can assume
any one of four primary functions.
For a high-risk, low-capability employee, the
leader takes a “direct” approach. In a low-risk, low-capability situation, the
leader should take on a “guiding” role or a “pure coach,” Tiger said. When the
employee displays both high risk and high capability, the manager must
“support” that employee. And, when a person shows high capability and low risk,
a leader is simply “sponsoring” the employee.
Tiger said the solutions to the situations she
described are never black-and-white.
“One thing with people leadership is there’s never
one answer,” she added.
Room for debate
For some students at the retreat, such as Fornander
and Skyla Pope, the conference was the first of its kind that they’d ever
expecting it to be so hands-on,” said Pope, the 2009-2010
director of communications for the Financial Management Association at Fox. “I was pleased to find out that it was
more than a lecturing event and allowed the students to really get involved.”
After her speech, Tiger engaged the students in
case studies, for which they made hypothetical employee assignments to a team
working on a major, albeit imaginary, upcoming project.
listed had good qualities, as well as bad qualities,” Pope said. “It was up to
us to decide the best employees to complete the job and why.”
Tiger said it was a privilege to work with the Fox
SPO leaders, who were “willing to debate with me in order to learn.”
Eight months later, Fornander and Pope are still
using the knowledge that Tiger’s exercises helped them develop.
“I learned to be more flexible as a leader,”
Fornander said. “People require different types of critique and motivation,
since people can be very different.”
For CSPD, the retreat serves as a prime opportunity
to do what the center does best: connect exceptional students with corporate
“These are top-notch students,” CSPD Executive
Director Corinne Snell said, “and employers love the opportunity to connect
with top-notch students.
“The annual leadership retreat is wonderful because
it helps the students in their current roles as student-organization leaders,
as well as builds the tools and skills they can take with them after
If you or your company are interested in
collaborating with CSPD on an upcoming Leadership Retreat, please contact Megan
Panaccio at 215-204-8095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Chelsea Calhoun