Wake Forest University Dean of Business Steve Reinemund believes that true leaders effectively combine three distinct yet disparate human components.
“I look at a leader in terms of head, heart and hands,” he told Neill McNeill, who hosts “Newsmakers” on WGHP-Fox8. The Reinemund interview, which includes a Web extra at myfox8.com, aired Wednesday, July 15.
“In the head,” the dean said, “there are things like intellectual horsepower. How smart is this individual? Then, I look at intellectual curiosity. How motivated are people to learn and grow? Are they continuous learners? … Do they have common sense?
The foundation of the heart, he says, is the leader’s moral compass.
“Does the leader really know the right thing to do?” he asks. “Does the leader instantly, without having to do a lot of thinking, just know the right answers to the moral questions? When they’re sort of dropped in from nowhere, can they find true north, because they’ve been ingrained with those principles all of their lives.”
“Another thing I’ve seen over time with effective leaders is compassion; people who truly are able to put themselves in the position of others to truly understand them. That doesn’t mean you lower standards of performance, or that you make excuses, but you understand the humanness that we all have and the ability to relate to that, and to help people through their difficult issues.”
“Sometimes it’s hard in the midst of a crisis to stop and figure out how to help someone through their own issues. … It’s those times that really define a true leader, when it’s not convenient, and it’s not easy to stop.”
As for the “hands,” Reinemund says, borrowing the famous Nike slogan, “Just do it.”
“It’s perseverance, it’s sticking with the mission, it’s the ability to understand when you change course.”
Reinemund addressed several topics during the “Newsmakers” piece, in addition to leadership. He talked about his Thursday-morning run with students, faculty and staff, the ongoing economic challenges, his time as CEO of PepsiCo., and his vision for the Schools of Business at Wake Forest.
He has taken part in about a dozen marathons, and he enjoys sharing his passion with the Wake Forest community. “The idea behind this was, along with many other things, I believe education should help students build habits and to build a complete and total life,” he says. “Physical exercise, I think, is an important part of a healthy life.”
The goal at Wake Forest, Reinemund says, is to “provide that exploration opportunity, with some focus, with some assistance and counseling and exposure, so that every student figures out their place in society.”
Reinemund, who spent 24 years with PepsiCo., has been lauded for his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the business world. He talked to McNeill about his time at PepsiCo., where he returned Pizza Hut to the top spot among its competitors by implementing a home delivery option in the early 1980s. McNeill called it one of Reinemund’s “most-renowned innovations.”
On the economy, Reinemund says he has been “amazed” at how students have reacted to the current situation. “It’s tough. I mean, the job market is very difficult … These do go in cycles. This cycle’s obviously deeper, and will probably be longer than previous cycles … in our modern times. But I’m confident we will get out of it. Is it the end of this year, the beginning of next year? My guess is that we’ll probably start seeing the turn happen late this year.”
Click here to watch segment that was featured on the Fox 8 news.
Click here to watch the additional web extra that was posted on the Fox 8 website.