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Business Officer Magazine

Honest Leaders Needed

More than a dozen sessions in this track were designed to encourage managers to become extraordinary leaders.

Critical Role for Changing Times

The answer: “We've become more like psychologists,” said Patricia Charlton, senior vice president for finance and facilities at the College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas. The question, “How has your role changed in the past year?”, posed by Harvey Blustain, moderator of the session, “The CFO: Manager, Adviser, and Change Agent.” Charlton expanded on her point by saying, “We need to reassure people that things will be OK—that we'll come out of this much stronger, but things definitely will have changed.”

Blustain, president of Act IV Consulting Inc., asked a number of economic downturn-related questions of a panel, which, along with Charlton, included Kevan Buck, executive vice president of the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Stan Nosek, vice chancellor of administration, University of California, Davis. Following is a sampling of other responses to the question of how the role of chief business officers is changing.

BUCK: At our September and October [2008] board meetings, the board wanted to hear from me—rather than from the president—that things will be all right. We are being pushed more into the limelight than we want to be.

NOSEK: We need to be totally transparent and to tell the truth to employees—that there may be layoffs, but we will try to do whatever we can to mitigate the effects of the financial crisis.

CHARLTON: The media has been very engaged because of the severity of the budget problem. Getting out clear, concise, detailed information is important. At the same time, we do not want our staff to hear something for the first time from a television broadcast.

Applying Leadership Principles

In the session “Leadership and Influence,” Hugh Blane, partner and consultant at the Effectiveness Institute, Redmond, Washington, teamed with Timothy Chester, chief information officer at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, to describe how applying principles of leadership affected the management of information technology at Pepperdine.

Blane defines “influence” as the ability to shape with full integrity the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or actions of another. He pointed out that being honest is the quality most likely to make others willing to follow. “Honesty” holds a large lead over “forward looking,” “competent,” and “inspiring.”

Pepperdine University has seen increased productivity and broadened acceptance in its IT endeavors by applying the influence process. According to Chester, the staff emphasized building strong relationships, discovering where people want to go, and bringing solutions that help them get there.

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