San Jose Mercury News: From the PTA to the Corporate Boardroom, 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh Shows Path to Leadership

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Jan. 28, 2013.

By Dan Nakaso

On the football field he’s a superstar coach, but in business school classrooms Jim Harbaugh is an MBA MVP.

Leaders from the boardroom to the battlefield can steal a page from Harbaugh’s playbook, experts say, because the fiery head coach of the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers displays universal leadership traits that work equally well off the field.

“There are different styles and approaches to managing different situations and different types of people,” said Chester Spell, who teaches organization and management at San Jose State. “But showing people that you care and understanding the work and getting out of the way are qualities of most good leaders.”

At Santa Clara University, leadership professor Barry Posner uses Harbaugh as an example for his MBA students of the kind of leader who uses his intensity to fire up those around him and isn’t afraid to make tough decisions — whether it’s sticking with troubled place-kicker David Akers or replacing quarterback Alex Smith with the untested Colin Kaepernick.

“The stuff we’re teaching about leadership isn’t just about sports,” Posner said. “It applies in families, it happens in volunteer organizations.”

Harbaugh is clearly confident in his leadership skills, which he demonstrated as an NFL quarterback and as a college coach in San Diego and at Stanford before taking over the head coaching job with the 49ers in 2011.

“Harbaugh very clearly has a strong sense of who he is,” said Bill Reckmeyer, a former college point guard and lacrosse player who’s now a professor of leadership and systems at SJSU. “While I don’t know what goes on in the locker room, it’s also clear that his players have an awful lot of respect for him. If people are willing to run through a brick wall for you, there is really good leadership going on. If not, you have bad morale and passive-aggressive behavior.”

Posner said Harbaugh also keeps his team focused on success by demonstrating “what we call ‘inspiring a shared vision’ and getting people to think about winning the Super Bowl.”

But he has not shied away from making tough decisions in the public arena, such as replacing Smith with Kaepernick even after Smith recovered from the concussion that knocked him out midway through this season. Or his decision to stick with Akers.

“Leaders recognize that it’s all sitting on their shoulders and they’re willing to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to make a judgment,’ ” Reckmeyer said. “He’s working as a leader and not as a manager and certainly not as an administrator.”

That kind of confidence will help the leaders of any volunteer group, company or organization.

“In a situation where teamwork is of the essence — whether it’s a community organization like a PTA or an academic setting or a corporate boardroom — Harbaugh’s leadership style is transferable to almost every situation,” Reckmeyer said.

But how would Harbaugh’s fiery outbursts on the sidelines play in the corporate world or at a PTA meeting?

“It’s the passion that matters,” Reckmeyer said. “Ultimately people are really attracted to people who are really passionate about what they are doing.”

Spell agrees.

Harbaugh’s angry reaction to referees’ calls “shows the people he’s leading that he cares. … He’s showing that he wants this as badly as the players do,” Spell said. “But it’s not about whether you’re fiery or not. What’s important is showing the people you lead that you care.”

Successful leaders can be quiet or loud, or anything in between.

The key to successful leadership, Reckmeyer said, “is realizing that it’s all about people, people, people.”

Reckmeyer especially admires the slogan that Harbaugh introduced last season to unite and inspire the 49ers, asking his players “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody.”

But Posner is even more impressed by the displays of respect that Harbaugh shows for his players.

“Leadership’s a personal relationship,” Posner said. “Leaders take us to places we’ve never been to before. By building up people’s confidence, Harbaugh paints a picture of how we get from here to there.”

Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.

Information Week: SJSU & IBM Provide Students Real World Social Business Experience

IBM, San Jose State Team On Social Business 101

IBM-sponsored program lets San Jose State University students practice social software strategy.

Posted by Information Week Jan. 11, 2012.

By David F. Carr

San Jose State University students are getting a crash course in social business, thanks to a partnership with IBM.

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges.

In this case, the challenge was provided by GBS, an IBM business partner that has traditionally focused on Lotus Notes applications consulting, with a growing social business practice. GBS presented a social business framework it had developed and asked the students to critique and refine it.

Professor Larry Gee, who teaches in the Management Information Systems program of the College of Business, put together a group of 76 students, who broke into 24 teams, each of which was responsible for developing a feasibility study and presenting it to the consulting firm by the end of the Fall semester. In addition to students from his own MIS strategic management course, Gee involved graduate students from the school’s biotechnology program to provide “cross-pollination” between business, science, and computer science.

“The challenge was creating a framework to utilize various social media tools out there so the organization can use them effectively,” Gee said.

“In 2012, I’m planning to do something very similar–a practicum, where students are doing something of value, not reading a 30-page case study,” Gee added. GBS has agreed to keep working with the school because “they liked what they saw,” he said.

IBM says the program is designed to help students:

— understand the tenets of a smarter social business through the use of social networking software.

— build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization.

— develop teamwork and collaboration skills.

The IBM developerWorks community website served as the social collaboration environment for the project.

Gee said students tend to come into the program thinking “we’re doing this already,” because of their experience with consumer social networks, and must learn that “these are separate entities, social tools for business.”

In a video testimonial for the program, one student expresses surprise at learning that social media could function as a business tool. “Really, this is a complete blind spot,” he said. Another added, “I always thought it was more of an entertainment kind of tool, but now I’m strategizing for how businesses can use it productively.”

One student, who recently secured a job, reports, “I applied some of the things I learned in this class to the interview, and I think that’s what really landed me the job.” She also complains about the number of emails she receives that consist of one sentence or one word–messages that could be more easily managed in a social activity stream.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

IBM social business logo showing globe wrapped in colorful, intertwined ribbons

IBM and SJSU Collaborate to Advance Social Business Skills

ARMONK, NY – 11 Jan 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and San Jose State University (SJSU) today announced they are collaborating to help students turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

This new academic program provides students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in the emerging arena of social business, while learning to adapt their knowledge to real-world business challenges. According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million last year.*

Under the direction of the Department of Management Information Systems and the Department of Organization and Management, SJSU students assess the social networking capabilities of an IBM Business Partner organization as a way of learning about the characteristics of a social business while helping to apply social networking technologies to business operations for more efficient collaboration and faster innovation. As part of their coursework, the students are mentored by IBM experts and learn about internal and external use of social business solutions.

As the program develops, students learn that through the use of social software and an open, supportive culture, organizations can activate networks of people – employees, clients, business partners – to apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate how work gets done. Students also learn about the value social business generates for organizations when every department, from HR to marketing, to product development to customer service to sales, integrates social networking tools into their work flow and business processes.

“Today’s students are already social savvy in their personal lives,” said Professor Larry Gee, College of Business, San Jose State University. “However it’s vital for them to be able to apply these skills to business and differentiate themselves as they enter a tough job market. Through the use of IBM technology and experienced mentors, our students will join the corporate world prepared to compete.”

By bringing together IBM’s experts with SJSU’s students, the program seeks to educate, enlighten and advocate the key role of social business as a driver for a Smarter Planet. The goals of the partnership are to help students:

  • understand the tenets of a smarter Social Business through the use of social networking software;
  • build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization;
  • develop teamwork and collaboration skills;
  • better understand how to use IBM social networking technologies;
  • deepen relationships between faculty, students, IBM, and IBM business partners.

“IBM and San Jose State University have a long-standing relationship, founded on our deep commitment to preparing students with the skills needed to become successful business leaders,” said Jim Corgel, General Manager, Academic Programs, IBM. “There’s no disputing that social business has become a necessary component in today’s business strategy and the skills that go along with social business are in high demand. With SJSU, we are taking the next step in ensuring students are prepared to use social business technology to create business value, and solve complex business challenges quickly and efficiently.”

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges submitted by global corporations, entrepreneurs, community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

This program is also part of IBM’s work with universities around the world to help students prepare for jobs of the future. IBM’s Academic Initiative offers a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities. As a member of this initiative, participating schools receive no-charge access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. Over 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM’s Academic Initiative.

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative follow #IBMSocialBiz on Twitter.

*”Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011.

IBM social business logo showing globe wrapped in colorful, intertwined ribbons

IBM, SJSU Collaborate to Advance Social Business Skills

ARMONK, NY – 11 Jan 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and San Jose State University (SJSU) today announced they are collaborating to help students turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

This new academic program provides students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in the emerging arena of social business, while learning to adapt their knowledge to real-world business challenges. According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million last year.*

Under the direction of the Department of Management Information Systems and the Department of Organization and Management, SJSU students assess the social networking capabilities of an IBM Business Partner organization as a way of learning about the characteristics of a social business while helping to apply social networking technologies to business operations for more efficient collaboration and faster innovation. As part of their coursework, the students are mentored by IBM experts and learn about internal and external use of social business solutions.

As the program develops, students learn that through the use of social software and an open, supportive culture, organizations can activate networks of people – employees, clients, business partners – to apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate how work gets done. Students also learn about the value social business generates for organizations when every department, from HR to marketing, to product development to customer service to sales, integrates social networking tools into their work flow and business processes.

“Today’s students are already social savvy in their personal lives,” said Professor Larry Gee, College of Business, San Jose State University. “However it’s vital for them to be able to apply these skills to business and differentiate themselves as they enter a tough job market. Through the use of IBM technology and experienced mentors, our students will join the corporate world prepared to compete.”

By bringing together IBM’s experts with SJSU’s students, the program seeks to educate, enlighten and advocate the key role of social business as a driver for a Smarter Planet. The goals of the partnership are to help students:

  • understand the tenets of a smarter Social Business through the use of social networking software;
  • build business skills and real-world experience by assessing the social business capabilities and business challenges of an IBM partner organization;
  • develop teamwork and collaboration skills;
  • better understand how to use IBM social networking technologies;
  • deepen relationships between faculty, students, IBM, and IBM business partners.

“IBM and San Jose State University have a long-standing relationship, founded on our deep commitment to preparing students with the skills needed to become successful business leaders,” said Jim Corgel, General Manager, Academic Programs, IBM. “There’s no disputing that social business has become a necessary component in today’s business strategy and the skills that go along with social business are in high demand. With SJSU, we are taking the next step in ensuring students are prepared to use social business technology to create business value, and solve complex business challenges quickly and efficiently.”

The program is part of IBM’s “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges submitted by global corporations, entrepreneurs, community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

This program is also part of IBM’s work with universities around the world to help students prepare for jobs of the future. IBM’s Academic Initiative offers a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities. As a member of this initiative, participating schools receive no-charge access to IBM software, discounted hardware, course materials, training and curriculum development. Over 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide have joined IBM’s Academic Initiative.

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative follow #IBMSocialBiz on Twitter.

*”Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011.