Robert Day School leadership workshops teach ethics and the art of persuasion

December 9, 2015

During November, the Robert Day Scholars Program hosted two leadership development workshops that were intended to extend the students’ knowledge base while providing them with practical frameworks that could be utilized in their careers.

An Ethics in Leadership Workshop convened on November 13th in the Kravis Center that was taught jointly by Alex Rajczi, the Deborah and Kenneth Novack ’67 Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at CMC and Ken Novack ’67, Chairman of Avinger, Inc. and member of the CMC Board of Trustees.

Professor Rajczi and Mr. Novack discussed the real-world causes of unethical behavior and challenged the students to identify their own ethical strengths and weaknesses.

During the workshop, students reviewed a series of business ethics cases and identified solutions through small and large group discussions. The cases focused on ethical issues in fiduciary responsibility and labor practices, while highlighting real-world examples in which students could examine how executives made decisions that led to ethical dilemmas.

“I thought the workshop was valuable for the students because they were able to explore business ethics through the lens of a faculty member who shared his expertise on the topic as well as a practitioner who shared his personal insights,” said Brian Dennis, Director, Administration and Programs at The Robert Day School. “Through the workshop, students had the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills by evaluating their own ethical standards and how to apply them in the real world.”

While, naturally, leadership and ethics were the main topics in the workshop, effective communication was also stressed. “As a student with a non-traditional undergraduate belief system, I was challenged to express my gut reactions in a logical and clear way,” said Michelle Goodwin ’16. “To be challenged by peers, professors, and famous leaders alike helped me grow as a student and as a future professional, I have not only grown stronger in my ethics but have furthered my ability to explain why I think the way I do.”

The second workshop (“Using Persuasion to Lead”) was held a week later in the Kravis Center.

 Professor Jay Conger, the head of CMC’s Kravis Leadership Institute and a leadership expert who has been recognized by Business Week magazine as one of the ‘Top Ten Worldwide Management Gurus,” led the workshop which highlighted the effective use of persuasion by leaders. By analyzing video clips of leaders who use persuasion effectively and ineffectively, students received training that will enable them to utilize persuasion as a communication tool when they assume leadership roles in their careers.

“The RDS leadership workshops were an invaluable experience for both my personal and professional career development,” said Payam Vadi M’16. “In particular, I enjoyed Professor Conger's workshop on persuasion where he dissected the essential elements of persuasion in a coherent manner while providing concrete examples in an entrepreneurial capacity.”

More specifically, students learned how expertise, relationships, and body language serve as sources of credibility that enhance their ability to be persuasive. They also identified how to effectively frame issues and how to establish a compelling position by utilizing forms of evidence including data, examples and testimonies. 

“Persuasion is often overlooked as a leadership trait,” said Ian Campbell M’16. “Given all that it is capable of, there is no doubt that persuasion should be a focal point for any leader.”

Campbell also thought the workshop did a great job of conveying not only the importance of persuasion but also the key elements (credibility, common ground, compelling propositions, connections) to persuading others.

“The instructor also did a phenomenal job of discussing how we had been persuaded during the workshop without realizing it,” he said.

“Students not only learned from a bonafide expert in this field in Jay Conger, but they have also equipped themselves with an additional tool to help them succeed throughout their careers,” Dennis said. “By understanding how to effectively persuade others, these students will be able to establish connections that will create advantages for themselves as they transition into the working world.”




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