Turning Leadership Development from a Transactional Experience to a Transformational Journey

Professor Joe LeBoeuf

Anyone who has ever had a conversation with Professor Joe LeBoeuf will most certainly walk away with a renewed sense of urgency to become a better leader and leave his/her mark on Fuqua and the world. At least, that’s how I felt after our discussion about how to develop into a “leader of consequence.” A retired Army Colonel with 34 years of military experience, Prof. LeBoeuf helped shape Fuqua’s leadership program into an integral part of the Duke MBA experience and has earned recognition from BusinessWeek, Harvard, and other top-10 business school programs. Leadership development is a part of Fuqua’s fabric and leadership lessons are woven into the entire culture here — a culture that is continually supported and shaped by many faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. For me, though, it was Prof. LeBoeuf who really opened my eyes to the leadership potential that I have. His philosophy of making our time at Fuqua a transformational, rather than simply a transactional, two-year experience permeates all facets of Fuqua’s Leadership Development Program and ensures that students have the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in preparation for the “real world.”

Experienced Leader Gives Back

Prof. LeBoeuf attended West Point for undergrad and then went into active service from 1974 – 2003, serving in various operational roles, in Germany and the United States. He then earned a master’s in Engineering Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1985, and returned to his original alma mater as an assistant professor, starting his career as a soldier and scholar. He returned to Ft. Carson, Colorado, for a two year operational assignment with the 4th Infantry Division before being selected by the Army to pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial — Organizational Psychology. With that degree, he returned to West Point in 1994, as a member of the permanent faculty as an Academy Professor to teach within the Behavioral Science and Leadership Department, where he served at the Deputy Department Head, a role which allowed him to educate, develop and train cadets into leaders of competence and character.

After his retirement from the Army in 2003, Prof. LeBoeuf joined Fuqua’s faculty in 2004. He teaches management and leadership courses and serves as a scholar in the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE). One of his roles with COLE is supervising the COLE Leadership Fellows Program, and developing other enhanced leadership programming. He is Faculty Director of Consequential Leadership II, an intense leadership developmental experience for all Daytime students. Prof. LeBoeuf also consults through Duke Corporate Education and with Praevius, Inc. and works with the Center for Army Professionalism and Ethics (CAPE), on an Army leadership and character transformation project — bringing his civilian and military expertise together to continually educate military leaders.

Building Leaders of Consequence Isn’t Easy

As one of the few faculty members at Fuqua with over 30 years of leadership experience outside the realm of academia, Prof. LeBoeuf understands the challenges of asking MBA students to confront our weaknesses and improve upon them to become better leaders. The way he helps structure Fuqua’s leadership development program allows us to take time on our own to fill out and tweak our Personal Development Plan, which details 3 goals we have for our time at Fuqua, whether they are related to leadership, academics, or even fitness. After we capture our initial thoughts, COLE Fellows, overseen by Prof. LeBoeuf, give us feedback and hold us accountable to reaching our goals. As Prof. LeBoeuf told us in an email in August, Fuqua is a “two year gift you give to yourself,” but what we do with this gift is up to us — we have to determine our own goals and priorities, and it helps to have a second-year COLE Fellow invested in our progress.

Prof. LeBoeuf not only oversees the COLE Fellows, who are at the heart of Fuqua’s Leadership Development Program, but he also ensures that the Fellows provide additional leadership opportunities for interested Fuqua students. A rigorous education and training program for the 40 Fellows in the spring includes a two-day retreat, a speech by Duke Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and a ceremony where Fellows are issued military-style dog tags to commemorate their commitment to the program. After the event, Prof. LeBoeuf empowers all Fellows to explore a leadership path that interests them, and to make related opportunities available to the entire student body. As a result of this challenge, the Leadership Cohort Experience was established, which brings students in contact with industry leaders and CEOs (and even an astronaut!) 3 – 4 times per academic term, beginning in Fall 2. It provides an intimate opportunity to learn about leadership in the “real world” directly from successful professionals.

Opportunities that Matter

Thanks to Prof. LeBoeuf, the students he supports, and the many senior faculty members he works with, Fuqua has become a premier institution for leadership development. Students here have the opportunity to leave a legacy at the school through leadership activities like the COLE Fellows and the Cohort Experience. Without Prof. LeBoeuf’s strong personal belief that receiving your MBA should be about more than just attending classes and getting a degree, this would not be the case, and students would enter the workforce unprepared for leadership challenges that await. We are privileged to have such a robust leadership program here at Fuqua, and I plan on taking advantage of all that it has to offer!

Sarah Feagles

More posts from Sarah Feagles

Daytime MBA, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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