Gearan Speaks about Leadership – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Gearan Speaks about Leadership

The Centennial Center for Leadership recently welcomed President Mark D. Gearan as its special guest for the Leadership Café.

As a follow-up event to the January 2012 Leadership Institute, 20 students from Geneva and DeSales High Schools joined HWS students to hear Gearan speak about his leadership experience as president of the Colleges, director of the Peace Corps, and deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House.

“In addition to self-reflection, leaders are made by their multiplicity of experiences, which provide them with opportunities to gain new perspectives,” explained Gearan, noting that HWS and Geneva were places that could provide a broad spectrum of experiences. “Leaders are important because most social change movements are spurred by a core group of individuals ‘on the ground.’ I challenge you, as young leaders, to become part of that core group and commit to a cause that is larger than yourself.”

Opening the floor for questions, several students took the opportunity to learn what makes Gearan an effective leader. When asked how individuals can learn to be better leaders, he advised students to observe leaders, both the ones that they admire and those they do not, and to learn from each.

“Leaders should model traits that they find most desirable,” said Gearan. “From those leaders you don’t admire, you can develop sensitivity to harmful leadership behaviors, thereby making yourself a better leader.”

In attendance was Kaylyn O’Brien ’12, who had taken part in the 2012 Leadership Institute as a presenter, home group leader and participant. She wanted to hear Gearan’s leadership insights, as well as see how the students in her home group had progressed as leaders.

“I have always found listening to others speak about their leadership experiences to be very beneficial because it gives you a chance to reflect on your own experiences, while also deciphering how you can apply their advice to your own future leadership endeavors,” said O’Brien. “President Gearan spoke about the value of taking advantages of the opportunities presented before you, which, as a graduating senior, was a message that certainly resonated with me.”

The Leadership Café is designed to be unrehearsed and uncensored, and invites campus leaders to share their leadership path and experiences. Past Leadership Café speakers have included Professor of Economics Tom Drennen, Instructor of Philosophy Rodmon King and Head William Smith Soccer Coach Aliceann Wilber.