Blog Archives

Barry Posner’s TEDx Talk: Why Credibility Is The Foundation Of Leadership

I use Barry Posner’s books in my Executive MBA course on Organizational Behavior. One of the concepts I love most from his writings is the importance of leadership credibility. Leadership credibility develops to the extent we do what we say we will do. Notice the “we” in this rather than the “me”. If we only speak and act in accordance with our own desires, we might have personal credibility, but not leadership credibility. Leaders speak and act in ways that “we” value. A leader walks the talk that represents us, not just him or herself.

After you watch Barry’s talk, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Barry Posner: Two Truths About Leadership

I use Barry Posner’s book The Truth About Leadership in my EMBA class on Organizational Behavior. In this talk he did for TEDxUniversityofNevada 2014, Barry talks about two truths from his book – you make a difference and you can’t do it alone. It’s an excellent talk. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below after you watch Barry’s talk.


Executive MBA (EMBA) Online: Program Progress

The Online Executive MBA program at the University of Nevada was approved by the Nevada Board of Regents in late spring 2011. With minimal time to market and recruit, we were able to start our first cohort in the fall of 2011 with 14 exceptional students.  For the second cohort, we got another round of exceptional applications and are expecting to select 30 students to start in fall 2012.

The online EMBA at UNR continues to improve, expand, and evolve. Our program is housed in an AACSB accredited College of Business and is taught by many of the same faculty that earned our part-time MBA a top national ranking. Check us out – we think you will find that we offer an excellent program that is also an exceptional value.

If you are interested in joining our 2013 cohort, be sure to apply early!

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Executive MBA Class Assignment: Evaluate Super Bowl Ads

My marketing class in the Executive MBA program at UNR held discussed the effectiveness of the recent Super bowl commercials.  They were tasked with describing how advertisers segment their market and discuss the effectiveness of the strategy.  Their conclusions were very interesting.

Mass marketing as a strategy is a difficult one.  Consumers today expect more one to one marketing; a one size fits all approach is problematic in many cases.  Some products, like beer, aren’t really differentiated, except for a brand.  Mass marketing works well with products like this, where they are largely undifferentiated and fill a basic need.  Other products, such as computers and even cars are increasingly customized based on customer preferences.

The class focused on one particular ad:  the Clint Eastwood Halftime in America Chrysler commercial.   (see it on YouTube at Despite not really knowing who was sponsoring the commercial until the end, the students in the class wisely identified several key segments the commercial was targeted.   Using Clint Eastwood helped reach multiple generations in the audience but really positioned the Chrysler brand particularly well to an older generation.   Despite the international audience of the game, the commercial was targeted to an American audience evoking a sense of loyalty and patriotism to products made in the United States.  Many students noted the political overtones in the commercial but didn’t feel it took away from the experience.

The students in the UNR EMBA program are very bright and experienced.  They handle discussion topics like this easily and they teach me something new each week.

James McClenahan, MBA

James McClenahan, MBAJim McClenahan is the Director of Management and Executive Programs for Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, responsible for more than 150 professional development courses annually as well as several major conferences.

He serves as the Treasurer to the Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Schools to Careers committee for Washoe County and on the advisory board for St. Albert the Great Catholic Church. He completed his MBA at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2006.

Decisions Executive MBA Students Face

The decision to enroll in an Executive MBA program is one rife with difficult questions, the answers to which may well determine the extent of your success as a future executive. Most people entering Executive MBA programs are young professionals aspiring to reach greater heights in their field; they want the education to temper their passion for leading a business in the right direction, but it’s not easy choosing the best program or teaching style. Business schools around the country design Executive MBA programs in any possible format: online education, classes that emphasize peer involvement, mentorships from industry professionals—the list goes on. I wish all MBA students could take the outstanding classes offered at various Executive MBA programs, but that’s hardly a realistic aspiration.

Let’s address some of the biggest decisions a student has to make when you look through potential Executive MBA programs.

Classes taught online or in person?

The difference between online and in person education is one of the biggest issues concerning graduate business degrees in general. There are strong arguments to be had on both sides, but I think the decision really hinges on whatever works for your unique lifestyle. If you’re simultaneously interning at another business or even running your own small enterprise on the side, you might see great appeal in taking an online Executive MBA program that offers a relatively freer schedule. You might be the lone wolf student who thrives on the challenge of completing coursework on your own, relying on your own philosophy of leadership to guide them through lessons and hypothetical management scenarios.

On the other hand, you might thrive in an environment where you’re among your peers, bouncing ideas and strategies off one another. The idea of working alongside a professor with real world experience leading a business and a team of trained professionals might appeal to you if you’ve never worked with someone like that before. If you’re looking for greater involvement and interaction from your faculty and classmates, taking your MBA classes in person is obvious the right choice for you.

Fulltime or balanced with work?

Once you’ve decided on the atmosphere of your Executive MBA program, it’s time to decide the extent to which you want to involve yourself in classwork. Some students prefer to get their degree out of the way as quickly as possible so they can enter the working world immediately. These ambitious students usually cram as many classes as they can per semester, trying to graduate in record time. You might prefer the lightning round MBA path, but there are more steadily paced options.

Though it’s tempting to choose the quickest path to your Executive MBA, not every student has the luxury of dropping everything in their life to go back to school. It takes a serious time commitment to complete an MBA, and you might not have the option of sacrificing your day job for it. If that’s the case, then I highly recommend completing your Executive MBA over a number of semesters, giving yourself only as much classwork as you can handle. There’s no use overloading yourself if you have obligations outside of class.

Where to find the best connections

And finally, you want to be careful about choosing the Executive MBA program that has the right connections for you to advance your business career. This isn’t as simple as choosing a business school with the most famous faculty; it’s a matter of researching business schools with professors and lecturers with experience and knowledge that’s relevant to your field of interests. If you have ambitions to found a startup tech company, you want to look at schools with faculty that have successfully founded small business venture in that field. Applying anywhere else would be to miss the most important aspect of graduate education in business: meeting the right people, absorbing their industry advice, and applying it to your own venture.


Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez

5 Mental Habits That Support Lifelong Learning

In his classic book entitled Leading Change, John P. Kotter devotes his final chapter to the importance of leadership to creating and sustaining successful organizations. Beyond the development of leadership skills, the successful executive will need to be a lifelong learner. Kotter suggests the following five mental habits that successful leaders will need to support lifelong learning (p. 183):

  1. Risk taking: willingness to push oneself out of comfort zones
  2. Humble self-reflection: honest assessment of successes and failures, especially the later
  3. Solicitation of opinions: aggressive collection of information and ideas from others
  4. Careful listening: propensity to listen to others
  5. Openness to new ideas: willingness to view life with an open mind

His observation about the relationship between listening and learning is especially insightful:

Much more than the average person, lifelong learners also listen carefully, and they do so with an open mind. They don’t assume that listening will produce big ideas or important information very often. Quite the contrary. But they know that careful listening will help give them accurate feedback on the effect of their actions. And without honest feedback, learning becomes almost impossible (p. 182).

I think the overwhelming majority of faculty that teach in the Executive MBA program at the University of Nevada meet Kotter’s criteria of lifelong learners. The program director, Dr. Kambiz Raffiee, models the way for our group. Our program development meetings are always very productive. No one ever wastes our time with arrogant pontification or tries to dominate the conversation in order to force an opinion on others. We share a common goal, and we all actively listen to each other as we consider ways we can continually improve our courses to meet the high and evolving expectations of our executive students.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Effective Executives Make Effective Decisions

Making effective decisions is one of the five essential practices that Peter Drucker believes must be developed by any executive that desires to be truly effective. Effective executives develop a system of decision making based as much on learning as on doing.

Effective executives…know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on “dissenting opinions” rather than on “consensus on the facts.” And they know that to make many decisions fast means to make the wrong decisions. What is needed are few, but fundamental, decisions. What is needed is the right strategy rather than razzle-dazzle tactics. (p. 24)

If incorporating dissenting opinions is left to chance in your decision making process, chances are it won’t happen. It’s difficult to create an environment where offering dissenting opinions is expected from the people that work for you; however, it’s absolutely essential if you want to make consistently effective decisions.

Asking people affected by a decision for input on the decision has been a “contemporary” leadership practice for over 50 years. Is it part of your systematic approach to decision making?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Effective Executives Think And Say “We”

In his classic book entitled “The Effective Executive,” management giant Peter Drucker asserts that effective executives don’t think and say “I”, they think and say “we.” According to Drucker:

Effective executives know that they have ultimate responsibility, which can neither be shared nor delegated. But they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization. This means that they think of the needs and the opportunities of the organization before they think of their own needs and opportunities. This may sound simple; it isn’t, but it needs to be strictly observed.” (p. xxII)

Drucker first published this classic management book over 45 years ago, in 1967. There is more valuable information about how to be an effective executive in the first thirteen pages of the introduction than there is in most modern management books.

Please don’t miss Drucker’s point – effective executives are not egocentric or narcissistic. They don’t consider themselves “the source”, the oracle from which all organizational wisdom emanates. Effective executives view themselves as a resource of the organization and its purpose.

Whatever stage you are at in your career, do others consider you a resourceful contributor? How do you know? If the ability to help others succeed is not part of your leadership development regimen, then you are neglecting one of the most important skills you will need to be an effective executive.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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