Inside UBC Sauder Executive Education

Professor Daniel Skarlicki says leaders are created not born

Professor Daniel Skarlicki says leaders are created not born

Professor Daniel Skarlicki is an international thought leader in organizational behaviour and leadership development.  Publishing research in the world’s top journals, he brings his knowledge and expertise into the classroom and applies it with enterprises like Cathay Pacific, VanCity, ICBC, Glaxo and Rocky Mountaineer.

In his course Meeting the Leadership Challenge, he builds a creative environment full of group discussions, role-playing and case studies that empower students to realize their leadership potential.

Describe your approach to teaching in Executive Education.

My approach is about co-creation. I don’t stand at the front of the class and deliver a lecture like a sage on stage. We want participants to talk about their own experiences and enrich the class discussions and framework with their own stories.

I also aim to bring people to the edge of their comfort zone to test their true potential as a leader. I want to bring them there and then bring them through it. I create an environment of safety, and then ask participants to push themselves to identify their own leadership style. And I want the skills they learn to be something they can put to work on Monday morning.

What are the top three attributes of a successful leader and why?

First and foremost a successful leader must know who they are because we can’t begin to lead others until we start to lead ourselves. The second is that successful leaders have a clear vision for their organization and that vision is transmitted. The third attribute is a balance of courage—being able to stand for what you believe in—and humility—because when we’re humble we can see the greatness in others.

How do you help participants discover and cultivate their own leadership style?

We create space for them to do some self-reflection, but also develop teamwork. I think it’s critical to have them actively work with others. Real learning takes place when we see ourselves through the eyes of others, by interacting and sharing with other managers and leaders in the class.

What are the leadership skills progressive companies are looking for?

Companies are looking for innovation and creativity, but you’ve got to be able to deliver results. So, they’re also looking for clear thinkers and decision makers. Progressive companies are also looking for people who can work in teams and possess the ability to influence and inspire.

What is the most significant thing you’ve noticed about how the course transforms participants’ abilities?

The most significant thing is that they discover their own gifts. They discover their own uniqueness and when they leave our program, they see their roles differently. They see the difference between being a leader and being a manager. They also walk away with a fresh perspective on what it means to listen and understand.

Describe how managers who take your class are having an immediate impact in their organizations.

By discovering how to embrace their unique leadership style it gives others permission to do the same. They walk away understanding how every conversation matters. They’re energized and they see a clear path to be able to deliver on what they’re hoping to do and how to inspire others to join them.

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