In Action

Kip Defines the “Essence of Leadership” at BC

Recently, Kip Hollister dropped in on a master’s class at Boston College to offer some leadership coaching and take questions from some 30 of the college’s bright, young business students. As the featured guest speaker of a class titled Leading High Performing Teams, Kip shared some insight from her 30 years of experience doing just that.

She started by sharing her personal story, as a young entrepreneur founding a business on little more than a dream, a loan, and no previous management experience.

“The essence of leadership is if you really believe in something that stirs you – which I did, I loved what I did for a living – anything is possible. The details will iron themselves out.”

She then moved on to the qualities of good leadership, and how much is founded upon your sense of trust and willingness to listen, more than any storied list of accomplishments.

“People are going to follow you for who you are. Not your resume. What is most important in leadership is your emotional intelligence.”

She reinforced this by saying, “Emotional intelligence is twice as important as IQ when it comes to performance and promotions. 20% of the people that get promoted have higher levels of emotional intelligence than those that don’t.”

Kip talked about how modeling trust and vulnerability plays a factor when it comes to building and retaining a team of talented performers.

“When I am vulnerable with my leadership team is when that trust, loyalty gets built. And it also feeds to the ability to attract and retain really good talent. Because trust is the cornerstone of any relationship.”

She also defined what makes a bad leader: “They think management is the title, the position. When anyone uses a position for power, do you think they’re respected?”

“The moment you think you’ve arrived is when you fail as a leader.”

Regarding trust and developing a moral compass, one student asked how young business leaders can find their ‘North Star.’

To that, Kip said one of the biggest steps is simply being uncomfortable.

“If you are not out of comfort every day,” Kip said, “You are not growing. Whether it’s calling someone you’re afraid of, whether it’s going to this networking event… We have to be responsible for our own learning and development.”

Another student asked Kip if being a parent has helped her be a better leader.

To which Kip responded, “I’m a mom first, through and through. Kids call me, I’m in a meeting, I don’t care who you are: I will pick up the phone. I will say I’m in a meeting, but they are my top priority.”

“How I lead in the company is how I lead at home.”