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Mike and Emily Sherman

Mike Sherman with his daughter Emily 09.

May 2008

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Field of study: Mike Sherman speaks on leadership

Students in the leadership studies minor at St. Norbert College wanted to make a splash. Their goal was to make students on campus and the general public more aware of what their field of study was all about. So one of its students cashed in a chip from a friend, or in this case, her dad.

Emily Sherman ’09 asked her father, former Green Bay Packers head coach and general manager Mike Sherman, to speak about his leadership philosophy. Sherman is now head coach at Texas A&M University. “We tend to worship celebrities in our society and knock down leaders,” Sherman said. “A leader is someone who comes in and gets things done.”

Students planned and presented the public event at which Sherman spoke. It was the coach’s first appearance in the Green Bay area since he left the Packers, and the class project drew an audience from both campus and wider communities, as well as media attention.

Abby Scher ’08, who introduced the event, said, “We were all incredibly impressed with Mr. Sherman’s presentation; we could not have asked for a better speaker.

“He covered the areas of leadership that are so essential to our own development and he gave a different insight toward leadership from a coach’s perspective. I think he really impacted not only our own but the community’s perceptions on what it really takes to be a leader.”

Leadership, within the mission of St. Norbert College, is defined as a process of envisioning worthy goals and persuading and enabling others to pursue and achieve them. As Sherman put it, “Good leadership today is not about you, it’s about the purpose.”

He told his audience that people today are afraid to fail, or not be liked by people. But we need leaders who believe in themselves and in their mission. Of many books he has read on leadership, he said, none has served him better than the Bible: “Know God and you’ll always have success.”

Scher said she was struck by Sherman’s emphasis on the importance of knowing oneself as a leader, too. “I think people today who are becoming leaders tend to look more at the bigger picture rather than what is inside themselves. Like Mr. Sherman said, if leaders do not first know who they are, their leadership toward others will falter.

“The students who organized this project really enjoyed putting it together and seeing its success. We feel that we definitely achieved our goal of making the St. Norbert and general community more aware of our leadership studies minor and the important aspects of leadership in community.

“It was a learning experience for us to meet the challenges of organizing this event and it was a great contributor to our own development as leaders.”

About leadership studies
A student-produced leaflet that accompanied the program pointed out that leadership studies, like any good liberal arts program, fosters critical thinking, written and oral skills, and leadership abilities—tools valuable in many careers and vocations. As Sherman put it, “people like to follow extraordinary people.”

The leadership studies minor at St. Norbert College is a multidisciplinary academic program that has as its central concerns the study of current leadership theories in every day life, ethical dimensions of leadership and the global common good.

Students are expected to put together a leadership studies portfolio based upon papers and projects for their leadership studies courses. This forms the basis for an integrated project in the capstone course and for assessment purposes.

The courses in this program examine ethical issues and principles relevant to leadership; theories and styles of leadership; the dynamics of leaders interacting with followers; the impact of leaders on organizations and communities; and leadership skills such as goal setting, effective communication and assessment.

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