Goldman Sachs Students Worldwide Learn Leadership Skills At Institute For International Education
Recently, Education Update visited Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program under the umbrella of the Institute for International Education (IIE) headed by Dr. Allan Goodman, President and CEO and Peggy Blumenthal, VP and COO. Students from around the globe were chosen after a rigorous selection process. Each participant in the program was nominated by their university, then went on to a selection process by IIE. Scott Moore, a rising junior at Princeton University was one of the selected few who felt that one of the best parts of the program was meeting and remaining friends with his diverse peer group. Among an illustrious array of speakers, Moore liked Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, “a down to earth and humble guy, an atypical leader.”
Klaudia Stefania Benzce, of Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary, agreed with Moore and marveled at the diversity of the peer group. “I have met types of people whom I’ve never seen before. For example, I’ve never seen Mexicans or South Africans before.” Benzce was thrilled to learn about new regions such as Latin America and Africa over the course of the program.
One of the highlights of the event was the Kofi Annan Case study. The students watched a condensed film piece on United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as a leader, which was followed with a speech by Gillian Sorensen, who worked under Annan for many years. A key point made in the video, by Annan himself, was that as the Secretary General of the U.N., he has no real power. He has no armed forces, and the decisions made within the U.N. are made by its member states. However, his job is to “try and speak for the weak and to persuade governments.” His power is the power of persuasion.
Sorensen, who worked with Annan and his predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, juxtaposed the leadership styles of the two. Ghali, was a highly educated and elite Egyptian, but according to Sorensen, he lacked basic people skills. Sorensen indicated that Ghali lacked the ability to lead, inspire or empower his team and that he alienated those within his circle. She did not deny that he had a brilliant mind, but she said it and “he was moving forward without his team. Brilliance and intellect are not enough to lead. You must convey respect to your team.”
Sorensen’s view of Annan as a leader was starkly different to that of Ghali as a leader. According to her it was clear from the very first day, when Annan delivered a powerful message to his team. “We are in this together. Without you I cannot possibly succeed.” He went on to take sweeping action within the secretariat, encouraging mid level mentoring, weekly, cabinet style meetings with his team which he allowed to speak out to the press in their various “areas of competence.” Sorenson underscored communication and interaction as the key differences between Ghali and Annan’s terms. She presented her points with anecdotes and examples that captivated the Goldman Sachs Young Global Leaders. From the Iraq War, she said it could be learned that the best leaders deal with adversity with the approach to “not quit, seek advice, do your work and don’t give up.”#