by Araceli Esparza
Leadership expert Dr. Jay A. Conger gave reason to his philosophies through a discussion in the President’s Dining Room Tuesday evening. His was the 12th part in a lecture series for the master’s and leadership program at the University of La Verne.
As a prolific writer, executive director of the Leadership Institute at USC and former college professor, it is no wonder Dr. Conger was well-known to the 55-member audience. His most notable experience is documented through print, as he has published more than 60 articles and eight books about leadership and organizational skills.
During this week’s discussion, Carol Sawyer, chair of the leadership program at ULV, conducted a one-on-one interview with Dr. Conger. Sawyer concentrated specifically on one of the author’s most recent books, “Winning ‘Em Over: A New Model for Management in the Age of Persuasion.”
The book was published by Simon & Schuster this year, and is the product of 12 years of research and thought-compilation by Dr. Conger.
According to a biography written about him, “Winning ‘Em Over” advises readers on how to “effectively harness persuasion to get things done at work.”
It focuses on a four-step process for organizational leadership. The first step, to build and sustain one’s credibility, is followed by the idea of establishing common ground and developing compelling positions. The final step is to connect emotionally with one’s heart, not only with one’s mind.
“We tend to think of leadership in which people lead by the following: leading people [through delegation] or leading by ideas, artistry, talents,” he said. “By leading through teaching and the power of idea, we dissolve great management theories.”
Prior to his role in the field of leadership and education, Dr. Conger was involved in the world of government and politics. As a child, he was raised in Washington, D.C., the “At the age of 10, most little boys thought of becoming president; I was one of them,” Dr. Conger said. “The influence of Washington made me very interested in politics and leadership.”
His passion for governmental roles encouraged him to eventually become part of a political party by the age of 16. However, the path toward improving democracy did not lead in the direction he aspired.
Dr. Conger said he realized that politics “takes power,” and such characteristics were not to his liking. Instead, he thought he was called toward education, and therefore pursued an opportunity to teach. Included in his background are his involvement as a visiting professor at Harvard Business School; executive education at INSEAD, a European business school in France; and McGill University, where he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award twice.
Dr. Conger is also active in consulting private corporations and non-profit organizations across the globe. He has been featured on popular radio and television syndications and in such publications as Business Week, The Economist, Fortune, the New York Times, Training and the Wall Street Journal.
At each appearance, Dr. Conger addressed the readers and listeners about the true interpretation of leadership and its role in society.
“Leadership is about reinvention and [can] cause organizations to go ahead, to change,” he said. “If you are simply good at doing what you do today, you won’t survive.
“People need to be inspired more than empowered.”
These and other philosophies are quoted in Dr. Conger’s books, including his 1994 production, “Spirit at Work,” which Sawyer slightly touched upon at Tuesday’s discussion.