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Student Reflections on Integrative Leadership

By Randolph Shackelford

Students from the Spring 2010 "Integrative Leadership: From Theory to Practice" course, taught by Professors Jay Kiedrowski and Paul Vaaler, will post their reflections on integrative leadership throughout the course of the semester on the Time to Lead blog.

I have spent the majority of my career in the money management business. Many of the investors that I most admire stress the importance of learning a myriad of frameworks and perspectives to be able to understand companies through a unique light. As such, I am constantly reading and learning. One particular area of study that I have enjoyed is the Santa Fe Institute's work on complex networks that blend aspects of physics, biology and the social sciences. It is in this vein that I wanted to take this Integrated Leadership class which incorporates aspects of business, government and civil society.

While all the readings were interesting, I found our discussion of Political Business Cycles and Brazil's 2002 elections particularly enlightening. I have taken numerous economics courses but I had not studied Political Business Cycles. The discussion highlighted the need for transparency during elections and how politicians must take into account outside players who don't have votes. I feel that the discussion fit interestingly into George Soros's Theory of Reflexivity and how strength begets strength.

In Brazil's case, the country was on the correct path and entering the elections from a position of strength; however, the market priced in Lulu's left-leaning past to extrapolate weakness. Once the country appeared weak, there was almost nothing it could to do get out of its downward fall because perception played such a vital role except execute and exhibit consistent behavior. By extension, I believe the Brazil model tells us that if a country without much goodwill stored up can start gaining strength, it should continue such policies even if such policies ultimately are not in the country's best interest. Once the country gets greater goodwill it can look to correct mistakes on its rise. Ultimately this takes on a utilitarian perspective.

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