Thursday, March 7, 2013

Leadership 101: Chairman of NYSE Imparts Wisdom to Students

“The U.S. is losing its ethical bearings. From the Clinton scandal up to the Baseball Hall of Fame steroid problem, we see examples of corruption in our country.”

Marshall N. Carter commanded the attention of the presidential fellows over lunch in the President’s Dining Room at Gordon during his short trip to campus last Tuesday. Carter, a candid and confident man, is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Group and frequently speaks with students and professionals about leadership in a complex and quickly developing world.

Carter’s varied experience in military, medicinal and financial sectors has instilled in him a thorough knowledge of leadership. He served as a U.S. Marine officer in Vietnam, chaired the board of directors at Boston Medical Center for eight years, and was CEO of the State Street Bank and Trust company in Boston for nine years. The fields differed, but the vital leadership characteristics remained constant: technical competency, ability to communicate, and adaptability.

“A leader is a catalyst that provides direction and energy to achieve his ends,” said Carter. “This involves a careful, balanced charisma.”

Carter cleared up some misconceptions about leadership, showing that leaders are not necessarily born, but trained. He also did away with the traditional notion that success can be repeated through similar techniques; instead, he advocates constant change in business structure and operation.

Perhaps most importantly, Carter exhorted the aspiring leaders around the table to foster a personal life beyond work and family, “Two of the ‘stool legs’ of life are work and family. But we must have a third stool leg that comprises our personal life outside of these two. It can be a passion or hobby, but it provides an outlet from the stress and strain of the other legs,” he said. In an increasingly demanding culture that pushes us to accomplish, his view of the need for balance in life was refreshing to all ears in the room. 

 Amber Fiedler, a senior business administration and communication arts double major from Wayne, New Jersey, serves as Fellow to Gordon's Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. Amber reflected, “I am somewhat star-struck and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet such a well-respected man. I will not soon forget his insightful take on effective leadership.”

Carter took questions from around the table. In his answer to the final question asking about his greatest failure, he revealed the all-too-human side of leadership. His quick response: “I spent $52 million on a data center my company never used. That was something I spent a long time coping with.” Failure is a natural component of leadership, and where there is greatness, there is also failure. To hear this first-hand from such an experienced businessman came as a consolation and an empowerment.

After lunch, Carter snuck off campus, with few members of the Gordon community aware of his presence in the first place. But he stopped to offer a few words prior to his departure: “With 55 colleges and universities in the Boston area, I find Gordon fascinating. There is clearly a focus on leadership here.”

Blogger: Mac Gostow ’13. Mac is acommunication arts major from California and a student writer in theOffice of College Communications at Gordon College. With a double minor in business administration and sociology, Mac has interned for CBS News in New York City, is a founder of ScotRadio, performs with theSweaty Tooth Madmen improv troupe, and served as a show host for KURadyo in Istanbul, Turkey. 

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