Innovator Article

Jim Olson Helps Students Hone Their “Leadership DNA”

Veteran Silicon Valley Executive Named Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence

Image of Jim Olson Helps Students Hone Their “Leadership DNA”


For Jim Olson, leadership is a lot like tennis. We bring our natural athletic and mental tendencies to the game, we learn the fundamentals, we have mentors, we study the pros, and we apply it all on the court, looking to improve our performance.

As this year’s Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence, Olson has put the tennis analogy into play in his winter quarter course, Game Changing Leadership: One Size Fits One, to help MBA students better understand, develop and apply their “leadership DNA.”

“Just as tennis players are born with things they can’t change; their grip size, length of their legs, and some important cognitive characteristics, each of us are different in certain characteristics important to the leadership equation,” says Olson. “You can say we are born with some of these.  And the rest are learned through our experiences.”

Olson brings plenty of know-how, self-discovery and perspective to share with the 50 students in the class. His distinguished career spans more than 40 years leading several high-technology businesses for two Fortune companies in the Silicon Valley—Hewlett Packard and 3Com—and nearly a decade as CEO of SkyStream Networks, a leading global video technology provider.

An accomplished motivational speaker, author and active angel investor, Olson founded WestShore Management Group in April 2007 to provide interim CEO, corporate consulting and executive development services for public and private venture-financed companies.
At the Graduate School of Management, Olson has taught courses on Teams and Technology, Negotiations, and Technology Management. He also advises start-ups at the UC Davis Engineering Translational Technology Center, which he helped launch in 2010 to accelerate the commercialization of innovative and promising engineering research. BestCollegesOnline.com recently ranked the center among its “10 College Business Incubators We’re Most Excited About.”

In his course, Olson says one of his goals is to show students why some leaders succeed while others fail when both are faced with similar challenges, situations and environments. These factors, he says, include our personality, emotional intelligence, situational perseverance, values, views of ethical practices, views of the role and importance of teams, and reliance on our intuition. 

Olson is drawing from Jim Collins’ book, Great by Choice, guest speakers who will relate their leadership DNA discovery experiences, and case studies, including his own from leading SkyStream Networks.

To better understand their perceived strengths and weaknesses, students will take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, keep a private personal learning journal and put their leadership skills to the test in a team project.

“The idea for the course is give students short cuts to discover what makes them unique and what they may not even know about their leadership ability,” Olson says. “I want them to maximize the value of their unique individuality by taking a deep look within themselves to know how to persevere when the chips are down and lead their organizations through the fire.”

—by Tim Akin

Comments

Post new comment

64938825232 » If you have a visual disability, please type the numbers two one three three into the box. Your submission will be promptly reviewed by a validation service and sent to the site administrators.
By proving you are not a machine, you help us prevent spam and keep the site secure.

Commands

Twitter Feed

Loading tweets...

Spotlight Story

Andrew Barkett Finds Innovative Ways to Fuel Entrepreneurship
Named First-ever Chief Technology Officer for Republican National Committee

Image of Andrew Barkett Finds Innovative Ways to Fuel Entrepreneurship

UPDATE: Andrew Barkett is leaving his post as senior engineer at Facebook to bring his decade of experience in Silicon Valley to become the first-ever chief technology officer for the Republican National Committee.The June 4 announcement has stirred a whirlwind of media coverage, including the Huffington Post and Washington Post.Bark

Spotlight Story

MBA Student Consultants Make an IMPACT
Projects Put Business Needs Front and Center

Image of MBA Student Consultants Make an IMPACT

Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurement Group is a $3.6 billion business that over the past decade has seen a dramatic shift in its customer base from U.S., and Western European customers to predominantly Asia-based customers. Today, the majority of the division’s revenues are generated outside of the U.S., with an increasing concentration in China.

Spotlight Story

UC Davis Part-Time MBA in Top 8%, Full-Time MBA in Top 9%
U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings: This marks the 19th consecutive year our MBA program has been ranked among the best in the nation.

Image of  UC Davis Part-Time MBA in Top 8%, Full-Time MBA in Top 9%

(Davis, CA) — The UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s full-time MBA program has been ranked among the top six percent of AACSB International-accredited programs nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest graduate business school rankings released today.

Spotlight Story

Mark Otero MBA 07 Builds Sacramento’s Coolest Company
The secret of social gaming mogul Mark Otero’s success is taking things to the extreme

Image of Mark Otero MBA 07 Builds Sacramento’s Coolest Company

The secret of Midtown Sacramento’s Facebook gaming mogul Mark Otero’s success is taking things to the extreme.