Our Research: A Balance Between Rigor and Relevance
Integrating rigor and relevance in how leadership and strategic thinking is developed and studied is at the core of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking (CLST). By advancing the science and practice that connect leadership and strategic thinking the University of Washington Foster School of Business is changing the way leadership and strategic thinking are developed.
Newly Published Research
Recently, the CLST worked with several researchers around the world to examine if emergent entrepreneurial leadership was heritable. What we discovered was that for males entrepreneurial leadership had zero heritability considering the entire working life-span, while for women it was near 50%. The authors speculated that the high heritability associated with women entrepreneurs is likely due to potential biases in business against woman entrepreneurs. Specifically, certain traits that help woman to be successful today, may become less important over time, moving the overall amount of heritability associated with being an entrepreneurial leader down closer to males.
Chaturvedi, S., Zyphur, M.J., Arvey, R.D., Avolio, B.J., Larsson, G. (2011). Heritability of emergent leadership as a function of age and gender. The Leadership Quarterly.
Rigorous Leadership Research
U.S. Veteran’s Administration
CLST has been working with the Veterans Administration Nebraska Western Iowa facilities on a variety of intervention projects to develop individual, unit and strategic leadership. This work builds on the Center’s research program that focuses on how to optimally develop authentic and transformational leadership among physicians, nurses and administrative leaders. One of the primary objectives in this work is to examine how these positive forms of leadership enhance the level of ownership employees assume for serving our nation’s veterans, and the impact it has on key performance outcomes such as patient stay, safety and satisfaction.
Combat Leadership Project
Working in collaboration with the US Army and the US Army’s Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), CLST researchers have been studying how leaders and units prepare for and deal with combat once deployed. This project specifically focuses on the individual and team leadership and climate characteristics that best prepare units to perform in the range of missions involved in combat. Initial results show that how units are led prior to and in combat instances can have a significant impact on the performance of those units, soldier well-being, attitudes towards civilians and combatants, and how adaptive the units are once leaving deployment.
A Sound Health Care Project
This research project goal is to understand how effective strategic change initiates, unfolds and sustains over time in healthcare organizations, so that we can then teach how to replicate successful strategic change at the least cost with the maximum impact on performance. During 2010-2011, we are examining a select set of up to 10 hospitals in the Puget Sound region to study how these hospital systems engage in major strategic change, such as improving patient flow, enhancing safety or the digitization of patient records.
Baseline Officer Longitudinal Development Study (BOLDS)
BOLDS is an Army Research Institute funded longitudinal project, which is following a cohort of West Point Military Academy cadets that graduated in 1998 to determine how early characteristics and experiences related to leadership predict subsequent development and performance. Specifically, now almost 15 years post-graduation, we are trying to determine whether information collected from the cadets during their training at West Point predicts the kinds of professional positions, performance and outlook that they have today towards current leadership challenges being faced in the military or in outside organizations if participants have left the military.
In partnership with Oliver Wyman Leadership Development, CLST conducted 45 interviews with financial analysts around the globe to learn how the strength or quality of leadership plays into the analysts’ evaluation of the firm. We discovered that estimating the quality of leadership was even more important in companies and industry sectors with substantially higher degrees of strategic freedom and controls to make decisions impacting a firm’s performance. In a follow-up study, working with Forbes research and surveying 305 financial analysts around the globe, the initial findings noted above have now been corroborated and expanded. The net result is that analysts’ evaluation of leadership indeed matters and can account for 20% or more of the changes in their estimation of a firm’s value.
Leadership Research with Relevance
Health Care Leader Development Project
CLST has established a close working relationship with the UW School of Public Health’s Masters in Health Administration program. The MHA program trains current and future leaders of hospitals across the country. Leadership is a core part of their curriculum and involves students working in teams, completing a series of empirically based development assessments from which they obtain customized feedback reports, simulations, and traditional coursework. CLST assists MHA staff with leadership coaching in 2010-11 using our newly released LSTDeveloper. CLST and MHA are jointly examining their student progress so as to determine whether the curriculum and coaching efforts are having the intended impact on their students’ leadership development and performance.
"The CLST staff and leadership are a delight to work with. With their help we have substantially augmented the quality of the leadership training for our students, and the results are obvious to the faculty."
Ed Walker, M.D., M.H.A.
Director, UW Certificate Program in Medical Management
Director, UW Healthcare Leadership Development Alliance
Former Medical Director for the University of Washington Medical Center
The LSTDeveloper is a custom web portal CLST has developed for our students and affiliates that are collaborating with CLST on leadership development efforts. The application allows trainees to work with leadership performance coaches in a secured, online environment, and to receive feedback about developmental assessments they complete. We provide clients with a host of online resources to foster and accelerate positive leadership development, and a forum for them to interact with their teammates and coaches on a variety of tasks. The LSTDeveloper allows us to customize the developmental experience and trajectory to each user’s needs and potential.
Professional Military Ethics Project
The CLST is working with the US Army’s Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) to identify the critical components of what constitutes a soldier’s Professional Military Ethic (PME). This multi-year project involves assessing the current state of the professional military ethic and how it applies to leadership development, as well as what the future state will look like over the next two decades. CLST researchers are currently surveying members of the US Army regarding their perceptions of the current Army’s PME, and will provide support for developing program enhancements that will be administered Army-wide during 2011.
Alaska Airlines Project
Working in collaboration with Alaska Airlines, we are building a Foster Case without Borders that will focus on 4 significant transitions that Alaska Airlines and its leadership have gone thru since 2001. This case will be more of a simulation than the traditional business case for participants and will evolve over time as new transitions are encountered. The simulation will help teach future Alaska Airlines leaders about their own transitions having them participate in making decisions with data that were availabe at the time critical business decisions were made.
Leader Certification Project
In support of the Foster School mission to be a collaborative learning community with programs placing a special emphasis on leadership and strategic thinking, CLST is designing a new Foster MBA designation of achievement and proficiency in leadership and strategic thinking. The first step is the creation of a pilot learning experience targeted to debut spring 2011. Additionally, students will engage in assessment, structured reflection, coaching, simulations, internships and field projects as part of their designation journey. Longer term, we will look to expand the availability of this designation to other graduate programs in the University of Washington community and possibly in conjunction with other non-degree development programs.
University of Washington School of Law Project
The UW School of Law has decided to integrate leadership development into its core curricular and career development activities with all students. CLST is working with the law school to administer a leadership developmental readiness assessment and feedback report for each entering student over the course of the next several years. The survey is based on scientifically validated instruments that predict readiness to develop in leadership roles. CLST coaches have assisted law school staff with how to direct students towards learning opportunities based on their feedback report.