By PHIL NOBILE
Kicking-off the first of many business-related speakers to celebrate Manhattanville’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Adam Bryant of the New York Times spoke to a varied audience on Nov. 18 at the college’s historic Reid Castle.
The columnist gave a leadership-centered speech to the mixed crowd of students, faculty and alumni as well as business leaders in the surrounding areas. Bryant, writer of the weekly column “Corner Office” for the Times, and author of the book “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” told the crowd numerous tips, tales and topical issues centering around leadership and success.
“The topic everyone wants to know is, what leads to success? This is a topic that numerous books try to answer, LinkedIn posts try to answer,” Bryant said. “I realized over time this isn’t a very good question.”
Bryant’s presentation was the first of the “Insights into Leadership” series celebrating the 20th anniversary of Manhattanville’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
The school began in 1993 with a masters of science degree in organizational management and human resources development. It has since evolved to feature six master’s degrees, ranging from business leadership to organizational effectiveness.
Anthony Davidson, dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, came to the school in 2011, after a nationwide search for a new dean, to develop the program further.
“Manhattanville recognizes the school as being a very important component to their growth and education in general,” Davidson said. “We are essentially the business wing of the college, and we’re very proud of what we’ve contributed towards the business world.”
According to Davidson, the school brought Bryant in as the first keynote speaker in the series due to its message of the importance of leadership in life.
“Today, people need to know how to be leaders, have leadership qualities,” Davidson said. “Even if you’re going to be in business for yourself, you need to be able to exhibit the kind of qualities that make people successful.”
Bryant didn’t offer the traditional advice most would expect from a business leader. Most of his speech was spent debunking traditional myths revolving around the business world and CEOs thanks to the numerous interviews he’s conducted over the years.
“It dawned on me that CEOs were always interviewed as master strategists,” Bryant said. “The more time I spent with them, the simpler questions I wanted to ask.”
Bryant, who’s conducted interviews with everyone from Silicon Valley kings like Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn to CEOs of traditional companies like Ursula Burns of Xerox, focused most of his presentation on five key qualities he’s isolated concerning leadership: Passionate curiosity, battle-hardened confidence, team smarts, a simple mindset and fearlessness.
Bryant developed the list after realizing the “one-size-fits-all” model of CEOs and advice doesn’t work when it comes to leadership.
“Yes, most advice makes sense on some level,” Bryant said. “But it’s not insightful.”
His next book, titled “Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation,” is expected to be published in January 2014.