Meet the Author: Students Treated to Q&A with Acclaimed Writer Dave McKeown

Meet the Author: Students Treated to Q&A with Acclaimed Writer Dave McKeown

Movement Towards More Vulnerable New Kind of Leadership, Says Expert

MBA students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences recently had the rare privilege of meeting the author of one of their textbooks - the acclaimed Irish writer and speaker Dave McKeown. During the hour-long session, McKeown, who is an expert on the topic of leadership, unpacked some of the concepts in his book The Self-Evolved Leader.

McKeown was a guest lecturer last week for the Human Resource module "High Performance Leadership", which is part of Wittenborg's Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme. The module is shared by lecturers Bert Meeuwsen and by Faheed Shakeel. Meeuwsen said about the module: "It is not only about the know-how of leadership, it is also on how-to-do leadership. For this, practical tools are needed and the textbook by McKeown provides this."

According to McKeown there is a big movement towards a more authentic and vulnerable kind of leadership style. "People are spending more time at work with their colleagues than with family so they need to feel like they can be themselves."

He said the old saying that "The leader is one that knows the way, shows the way and goes the way" no longer holds true. "That notion of heroic leadership that was valid in the 70s, 80s and 90s - that model of certainty, heroism even overly visionary - is being replaced by one of  collaboration, humility and sense of community."

When asked by one student why the world needs more vulnerable leaders, McKeown said:  "We used to be told: Leave your emotions at the door, leave your home life at home. Now, culturally, we are realising that we all have issues. So we relate more to people who come forward and say: I understand that. If I am vulnerable to you, you are more likely to be open and vulnerable with me.  

"I think we have passed the time of putting up a façade and realising we have to trust each other more, hold each other accountable and have difficult conversations, but ones that have meaning. This of course does not mean we have to spill everything about ourselves at work and in a way that stops us from doing what we have to do on a daily basis.  

"At the moment we are stuck between these two worlds: old models of being overly visionary and these new models of collaboration, co-creation, humility and vulnerability. We are seeking more of a collaborative approach to defining what the way forward should be."

Meeuwsen said, although the module is not new, he and Shakeel overhauled the content without altering the module's objectives. "This is achieved by bringing in the practical textbook by McKeown and the more fundamental academic research and articles by Fahad Shakeel et al. From a practical as well as fundamental, academic, thought-over-approach, this in itself is rather new. Connecting these two worlds within an MBA HR offers our WUAS students the why, the what and the how at the same time."

WUP 31/5/2021
by Anesca Smith
©WUAS Press