Friday, September 13, 2013

Business alumnus speaks on finding professional success

Monday marked the season opener of Monday Night Football, but that didn’t deter the hundreds of people who filled the Lied Center to hear Robert Kaplan speak. Kaplan talked about leadership, self-discovery and answered questions from the audience at the 2013 Chandler Lecture.
Robert Kaplan gives 2013 Chandler lecture

The KU School of Business alumnus started the evening with his definition of a leader and how people become leaders. The cliché, “Leaders are born, not made,” is inaccurate, he said.

“Not only can leadership be learned,” Kaplan said, “but I have not yet met a leader, who has been successful over a sustained period of time, who didn’t have to learn how to be a leader.”

Kaplan also spoke about the topic of his new book and the title of the lecture, “What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential.” He outlined three steps everyone can take to maximize their potential for success. The first is to find your strengths and weaknesses, as related to a specific job. Second, understand what you really love by finding your passion. The last step is to understand yourself. Kaplan suggested writing down your three stories: The facts of your life, your success story and your failure story. Everyone, he said, has these stories.

“I don’t know where this will take you,” he said, “but if you do this, you will be happy.”

At the end of the lecture, he talked about what separates good leaders from great leaders. One of those things, he said, is character.

“Do for others without regard of what’s in it for you,” Kaplan said.

He also noted the importance of good professional relationships within a company. Face-to-face meetings and conversations have to happen, he said. “You can’t build a good relationship through email.”

He answered a few questions from the audience and, at the reception afterward, signed copies of his book.

Kaplan is the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration and senior associate dean for external relations at Harvard Business School.

by Dan Dutcher