Leadership

Avnet, Inc., a Phoenix-based global technology distributor, marks its 50th anniversary as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange today. To celebrate, CEO Roy Vallee will ring the closing bell. Vallee was a featured speaker at the 21st Annual Compete Through Service Symposium presented by the W. P. Carey School's Center for Services Leadership. After the speech, Knowledge@W. P. Carey talked with Vallee about the Avnet story, and one of the key ingredients to the company's success: employee engagement. In our next issue we'll bring you a two-part podcast with leadership expert and management professor Angelo Kinicki on the topic of employee engagement. Today, let's hear Vallee explain how Avnet cultivates engagement among its employees.

What does it take to be an effective leader of a corporation? What must a chief executive officer do to energize employees and inspire them to go beyond what is normally expected? How does a CEO motivate employees to truly commit to a company? Management experts have identified a concept known as transformational leadership as one important factor in motivating employees. Transformational leaders have a vision for their organizations and they express that vision passionately to their followers. They encourage their followers to forego self-interest for the sake of the larger group, whether it is a work team or the entire company. But a study of corporate leaders in China found that transformational leadership may not be enough if a key ingredient is missing: a CEO who holds the right internal values.

Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, was honored recently as Executive of the Year by the Dean's Council of 100, a group of prominent business executives who advise the W.&nsbp;P. Carey School of Business. In presenting the award, W. P. Carey School Dean Robert Mittelstaedt noted Mulally's exceptional leadership in turning Ford around without requesting government bailout money. Here is Mulally's speech and the question period that followed.

In the opening moments of Bob Anderson's presentation at a recent conference sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Business through Information Technology, the IT executive used the words "innovation" or "innovative" or "innovate" seven times. He has reasons to harp on that theme. Now chief technologist for Best Buy Co., Inc., the nation's largest consumer electronics outlet, Anderson defines innovative thinking as creative, inventive, radical and fearless. And when you're a retailer of products sold by everyone from Sears to Circuit City, coming up with new and better ways to service customers is crucial to survival, he said.

Does the world of business — in the past dominated by men — pose any special challenges for women? With one startling exception, a selection of presenters and attendees at the recent annual meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners told a video crew from Knowledge@W. P. Carey that "yes, it's an issue, but you can overcome it." Here, prominent female business researchers from the faculty of the W. P. Carey School offer their points of view.