Management – Opus Magnum
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Leadership in Action: Moving up the Career Ladder

robert-barnett[1]How does one successfully navigate the process of moving from an individual contributor or team member to a first-time manager and leader? Which leadership characteristics and competencies promote positive and authentic leadership and which practices or attitudes can detract from an individual’s leadership potential? Moreover, how does one learn or develop leadership capabilities?

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the first National Association of Asian MBAs (NAAMBA) event hosted on the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus in the Opus College of Business Schulze Auditorium. The event focused on topic that resonated with all attendees, is consistently on the minds of business professionals, and is interwoven throughout the UST MBA program (and many other MBA programs’) curriculum: leadership.

To spark the discussion, NAAMBA-Twin Cities invited Robert C. Barnett, adjunct faculty member in UST’s Organizational Learning and Development department and principal and senior fellow in management consulting at Robert Barnett Consulting, LLC and MDA Leadership Consulting, to share his extensive research and findings about leadership. Continue Reading

Faculty, leadership, Newsroom

Is Leadership a Struggle? UST Fellow Steven Snyder Explains at April 24 Event

steven-2It has long been known that experience is the most powerful teacher. Leaders learn and grow when they immerse themselves in challenging situations. Yet, such situations involve considerable risk as well. New strategies must be invented. New paths charted. And leaders must overcome many obstacles – some external and some internal.

Dr. Steven Snyder, the Executive Fellow in Leadership in the Opus College of Business, is engaged in research that will further our understanding of organizational leadership, specifically how leaders grow through times of peril and adversity. Snyder has developed a conceptual framework for leadership under peril that he is currently testing in his role as an executive fellow. To determine the dimensions of leadership in practice, Snyder is interviewing a diverse group of high-level business executives and organizational leaders.

Navigate Forward and the Opus College of Business are hosting Snyder at their 4th Annual Author’s Breakfast on April 24. The event will run from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Metropolitan Ballroom in St. Louis Park. Contact us for an invitation to attend. Continue Reading

EveningMBA, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Opus Magnum Top 10 of 2012: #2

Our second-most popular post of 2012 in our Opus Magnum top ten countdown was by Evening UST MBA student Vitaly Demin, a strategy consultant at Eames Management Group and co-founder of the Russian technology blog Vitaly asked, “Is Success in Management a Right- or Left-Brain Strength?” He broke down his answer by looking at some pf the major players in the electronics industry and their success in the past year.

The era of left brain success is ending. It’s not as critical for B2B organizations because success in this space is mostly determined by professional relationships and pricing. B2C companies on the other hand deal with millions of consumers worldwide and that’s where left brain executives struggle the most. They don’t understand how consumers perceive companies and brands, and they never will because that’s simply how their minds operate. If all these left brain B2C companies don’t add right brain power to their executive tier, we will soon see more business failures than ever before because the new era of right brain management is coming.

Newsroom, OCB Alumni, Study Abroad

Study Abroad Matters: Be Open,Take Chances

This post comes from The Global Business Education Initiative.

Elizabeth Heisler recently  graduated from St. Thomas with a double major in human resources management and business communications and a minor in communications and journalism. She now works for Target as a sales floor executive team leader. This post is the story of one experience–a particular class–which helped lead her on her current path.

The summer before my senior year I took the Management 480 class abroad. We spent time in London, England where we also took a cultural immersion class. Then we journeyed to Cork, Ireland. I had never been out of the country before and was both nervous and excited about the adventure. But, from playing bat-n-trap (a sort of cross between baseball, cricket and trap-shooting) with the locals at a 300-year-old pub to kissing the Blarney stone, this experience was one of a kind and my only regret is that I did not participate in more study abroad opportunities. Continue Reading

Ethics, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Effective Feedback: How to Criticize Your Friends – and Still Keep Them

Long ago, I volunteered at a summer camp that taught leadership skills. One of those skills we worked on developing as camp staff was providing effective feedback, or as we put it, how to criticize your friends – and still keep them. The first lesson we learned: start by saying something nice or positive. Here’s a little more from the Pine Tree Web about the basis for effective evaluation:

The process of evaluation helps to set and maintain standards of performance, to measure progress, to identify areas for improvement, to recognize achievement, and to motivate.

These skills have served me professionally as well. As a manager it is important to balance your (high) expectations of employees and their morale. It is also wise to understand the strengths of your team members. Even if two people have the same title/job does that mean they should both be doing identical work? Understanding their strengths and weaknesses (and your own, for that matter) will allow you to give better feedback, positive or negative. Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, social media, UST MBC

Who holds the keys to your Social Media dashboards?

Recently a friend was lamenting the difficulties associated with the recent departure of two employees from the nonprofit she runs.  She indicated that the pair left under less than amicable terms and days later her remaining staff found themselves locked out of administrative access to the organization’s Facebook page.  Further, one of the individuals had maintained a blog on Blogspot for the organization, which abruptly disappeared, including years of archived postings.

So, here I sit thinking about this, mind racing with thoughts – effectively speechless.  Certainly, no one condones such vindictive behaviors, and most people exiting a firm (even when disgruntled) wouldn’t stoop to this level.  But clearly some succumb to the temptation when left with absolute power over these electronic extensions of the organization’s brand. Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Is Success in Management a Right- or Left-Brain Strength?

This post is by Evening UST MBA student Vitaly Demin, a strategy consultant at Eames Management Group and co-founder of the Russian technology blog

Every day we read many articles that analyze strategic business mistakes made by large corporations worldwide. Some of these articles make sense, some don’t but the bottom line is that most of these articles focus on certain details and not the big picture.

The reality is that there’s just one high level reason for most of the mistakes that were made in the last decade or so. All these failing companies are managed by left brain executives.

The only right brain CEO the world has recently seen was Steve Jobs and the only reason he could take Apple where it is today was his executive power to control every little detail of every single product. His right brain holistic picture allowed him to correctly visualize the future and point the company in the right direction.

Unfortunately for large organizations, today most are managed by left brain executives. This happens for two reasons: these corporations were either started by left brain types (i.e. Larry Page and Sergei Brin of Google) or the power has been transferred to them by a left brain founder (Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates of Microsoft). Because these companies were the first ones in their industries and were so successful, they have built so much brand equity and financial power that they were on the roll for a very long time. But they world has changed. The competition of right brain thinkers who are not afraid to think different and are able see the holistic picture of their industries are stealing away the business from large corporations as the latter struggle to figure out the right away to move the company into the future.

Continue Reading

Faculty, Local business, Media, Newsroom

Nominations Open for Star Tribune’s “Top Workplaces”

twp_banner_5[1]From the Star Tribune:

For the past two years, the Star Tribune and the Pennsylvania research firm WorkplaceDynamics have set out to identify Minnesota’s Top Workplaces.

University of St. Thomas management professor Mick Sheppeck explained how valuable a top workplace can be: “An engaged workforce has a financial return on investment. If the workforce is more satisfied, it will meet more goals.” (See last year’s report at

If you know of a company, nonprofit or government agency with 50 or more employees that deserves to be considered for this year’s Top Workplaces ranking, go to You can also call 612-605-3306. Continue Reading

Career Services, EveningMBA, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Supply Chain Management Opportunities Growing for MBAs

A recent article in BusinessWeek highlighted the often underappreciated business function of supply chain management, and the growth in opportunities for business students who focus their studies in this critical operations function.

12242010SantaClaus[1]While perhaps not as flashy as finance or marketing, it is an important and increasingly complex area of the value chain, given the global nature of sourcing raw materials and products.

As I tell my young children, those products on the shelves came from somewhere, and talented supply chain managers make sure they do so reliably, with the proper quantities and delivery timing, and at a competitive price.

These factors are essential for Santa (the main concern of my kids’ inquiry), as we head towards the holidays…I wonder how many supply chain MBA’s work on the North Pole?

biztube, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, social media

BizTube: Know the Marketplace

All I Needed to Know about Business I Learned from YouTube

Let’s say you are a large Japanese car company. You know you have the superior product. Your worldwide reputation for quality and longevity are unmatched. Your mileage is better than your competitors. You focused on what the market wanted, investing early into “green(er)” technology in cars. Because sales are high, your employees’ morale is excellent. You don’t have to battle labor unions so your profits are greater than your competitor. You are the larger, stealthier older brother monkey who has slowly snuck up on the smaller monkey.

The poor little American car company is sitting on the edge of the pond, surveying the bleak outlook. Sales are down and negotiating thousands of severance packages is time-consuming and expensive, and your finances are a mess.

Late in the first decade of the 21st century, this was the automobile marketplace. Here is where the analogy to today’s video ends, however. Due to a couple of costly recalls for Toyota and some restructuring and rallying from GM, the opportunity to shove the smaller monkey into the pond passed, and GM maintained its status of having the highest annual automobile sales worldwide for over three quarters of a century.

All of this amounts to a simple fact. When you’re in a competitive business situation, be attuned to the marketplace. There might come a time when with one small push, you can become the industry leader. Or if you’re on the edge, be aware. Change your course by cutting costs, extending brands and lines. Don’t sit still.

(We’ll not discuss the mama monkey and how she could represent the government bailout.)  Know your marketplace or you might get wet!