Leadership Applications - Dr. Daniel Milner, Oklahoma State University
From Alexis Hightower
Dr. Daniel Milner is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Management. Want to know more about our department? Go to https://business.okstate.edu/departments_programs/management/index.html for more information!
Hello! Hi what is your name? My name is Daniel Milner. Okay and what do you do for Spears School of Business? I am an assistant professor of management. I started in Fall 2022 and I teach Strategic Management to the undergrad business students. Great! So before all of this, where did you go for undergrad and graduate school? My undergrad is from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. So my degree is in economics but my concentration is in management, and then I went straight through to grad school at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where my PhD is in management and. organizations.
I taught leadership. at Kellogg both at the MBA level and undergrad level. What I realized about leadership were a couple things, one is the practical universality of leadership skills, in any context. Not just business or firms or organizations, but even in more low stakes or social settings like friendships or relationships or family dynamics. Because the idea of leadership is, there's a group of people working towards a shared goal.
Personality has a big effect on this and one trait in particular that's pretty impactful is about extroversion or introversion. So you might have heard of extroverts being more gregarious, outgoing, outspoken and introverts in more soft-spoken, you know, introspective, waiting to share their time. So what are the typical traits. you've seen on how extroverts behave? and introverts? Yeah so extroverts often are more quick to speak out or share their ideas, or externalize an idea that they have in their mind. Introverts in contrast are more about taking some time, receiving additional information, sort of letting it percolate in their minds before formulating a pretty coherent idea. and sharing it.
So one thing that's really useful in group discussions and brainstorming is the idea of the role of the Devil's Advocate. This is someone who is tasked with being a bit contrarian and pointing out shortcomings in the ideas that may be the rest of the group is considering. More of an opportunity to keep a wide perspective and suggest different ideas beyond what the rest of the group might be thinking about. Oftentimes introverts play the best Devil's Advocates because they aren't as quick to react to conversation or things that are being said and instead process more internally or with group feedback, ideas that might then incorporate or overcome some shortcomings of you know ideas that come out earlier.
So leadership gets a bad rap as involving things called soft skills and that's a pretty unfortunate choice of words I think because soft has so many connotations, not stable or impermanent. A better word that some research uses to describe leadership skills are core skills. These are core skills because they're applied in any context that you work in or are involved in. So things like conflict management and resolution, negotiation, project management and organization, regardless of the sort of job you get after college, you're going to be doing these sorts of tasks.
What do you think is a common misconception in corporate practices and industry when it comes to leadership? Yeah one misconception we see often regarding leadership is we often typecast people as Leaders or followers, based on their personality. In general the one personality trait that is most often used in this type casting is extroversion, where extroverts are often typecast as leaders and introverts are typecast or by default fall into followership roles.
Followership often takes place in entry-level positions, where coming out of college is a frequent end goal or you know the logical next step in the career progression. These entry-level roles just by virtue of being bottom of the hierarchy, often entail followership situations. So even though we might aspire towards leadership the reality is just the structures we find ourselves in are more conducive towards being a follower. Now within this, the ability to take a step back and assess the whole situation and see where one can plug in, whether as a leader or as a follower or some sort of hybrid or back and forth adopting both roles, is itself a really useful skill. Because oftentimes now with how fluid and dynamic work situations are becoming, it's useful not to be too locked into a particular role and to learn how to adapt in terms of what one is offering to the situation.