McRaven Imparts Lessons of Leadership at Scholarship Breakfast

Hasan Pirkul and Williams H. McRaven

Dr. Hasan Pirkul (left), dean and Caruth Chair of the Naveen Jindal School of Management, and William H. McRaven, chancellor of The University of Texas System, spoke at the school's annual scholarship breakfast on Nov. 1.

The University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven shared how the lessons of transformative leadership can be applied to business during his keynote address at the 2017 Naveen Jindal School of Management Scholarship Breakfast.

If your people do not feel connected to the mission … then any of your business’s past victories won’t matter.

The University of Texas System Chancellor
William H. McRaven

“If your people do not feel connected to the mission, if they don’t feel in their bones that you not only want but demand their ideas, if they don’t know that their career trajectory will be defined by the quality of their work, if they are just marking time, then any of your business’s past victories won’t matter,” he told nearly 400 Jindal School supporters, students, alumni, faculty and staff at the annual event.

“You’ll be on the road to defeat.”

Dr. Richard C. Benson, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, was on hand to introduce McRaven. The breakfast, held Nov. 1 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas, raised enough to fund 40 scholarships. Since its inception in 2009, the event — designed to offer a forum for discussing relevant business issues and support the educational goals of Jindal School students — has raised more than $700,000.

McRaven told the story of how one analyst’s initiative led to changes in collaboration and communication when he commanded the U.S. special operations forces.

The analyst who had some time-sensitive intelligence on a wanted enemy combatant violated protocol and the chain of command when she told an ambassador of the information. After the capture and imprisonment of the combatant, McRaven initiated a culture shift allowing for input from every corner of the command.

Chancellor McRaven addresses the audience

Nearly 400 Jindal School supporters, students, alumni, faculty and staff attended the breakfast. The event raised enough money to fund 40 scholarships.

“A lot of people were uncomfortable with it, but we didn’t care,” he said. “In fact, that was the point. We needed the best ideas to bubble up quicker than ever before, and we needed to test those ideas against every possible perspective — right now, today.”

To business leaders, McRaven stressed the importance of defining their missions and values, and connecting them with their teams and customers.  

“No matter what organization you’re a part of, think long and hard about who and what you are,” he said. “Make sure you’re giving your people, your partners and, of course, your customers a reason to engage beyond just self-interest. Articulate your values and, more importantly, live those values every day.

“Share with every member of your network a vision that sparks their imagination. Enlist them in the quest to turn that vision into reality. Tell them you can’t do it without them. They already know that, of course, but they need to be sure that you know it.”

At the breakfast, Dr. Hasan Pirkul, dean and Caruth Chair of the Jindal School, thanked supporters for making the school better every year and introduced special guests from the Dallas Independent School District.

Benson said McRaven’s Quantum Leaps initiative “sets the stage for UT Dallas and the other institutions to collaborate in ways that will make a difference for the state and the world.”

Notable guests included members of the president’s Cabinet; Jindal School Advisory Council Chairman Ray Hemmig and other council members; Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of North Texas Food Bank; and Mahesh Shetty MBA’99, chairman of the U.S. India Chamber of Commerce. 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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