Bauer professor engages students with her new book
In a crusade to fill the gap between leadership and relationships, one professor is applying years of theory to everyday life.
Leanne Atwater, a professor at the C. T. Bauer College of Business, found that there was a gap in the books offered to teach business students about leadership.
“I wanted them to have real life lessons, but the research to back it up,” Atwater said. “Most of the books out there on leadership research are either all theory — which the students don’t relate to — or (are) all fluff.”
Atwater sought to bridge this divide and write an all-inclusive book, “Applied Leadership Development: Nine Elements of Leadership Mastery,” which combines her expertise with the experiences of a senior executive, Al Bolea.
“What managers will tell you are problems when they take on upper-level positions are not about budgets or accounting, it’s about people,” Atwater said. “We don’t do much on those kinds of leadership skills here in the United States in general for business programs.”
Atwater encourages her students to take on these problems through the discussions in her class, which apply to their daily lives.
“We do a lot of self-assessment,” Atwater said. “(My students) are having to apply these principles to their lives and show me how it’s been done.”
Students agree that the book brings together both practical application, and theory in the classroom.
“My daughter, who’s in college, came to me about a group project, and I was able to tell her that she could have a different personality from the rest of the group,” management junior Pamela McGuffin said. “There should be different dynamics, and I learned that in class.”
Atwater requires students to hold themselves accountable for their coursework, and in what they learn from the course.
“It’s not a conventional class,” management senior Annah Chulam said. “You get out of it what you put in. You can’t make excuses.”
Some of Atwater’s students are returning to school and finding what they’ve learned here could have helped them in their past positions.
“I’m an older student, and I find that some of the things we learn about are like a light bulb,” management and marketing senior Patricia Limon de Rodriguez said. “I realize that’s exactly what happened to me that one time.”
And while most other professors like teaching postgraduate students, Atwater said she prefers teaching undergrads.
“I love the undergrads,” Atwater said. “Their eyes (are) wide open, and they are always very engaged. They’re hungry for this.”