The University of
Virginia Darden School of Business began the month of
February with a
Leadership Speaker Series presentation from Roger
Ferguson, president and CEO of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity
Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF).
TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organization and the
leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research,
medical and cultural fields. It was founded in 1918 by Andrew
Carnegie, who was concerned that professors were retiring with no
During his presentation, Ferguson told the audience that all
leaders need followers, and he continued by outlining four
character traits essential to garnering trust from others:
- Expertise: To be an effective leader, you
must have the right degree of expertise about your organization and
its culture, and you must deeply understand the issues your
organization faces. Otherwise, you will lack credibility among
those you lead.
- Appeal: You must display the characteristics
that people want to see in their leaders, including the ability to
articulate vision and direction.
- Empathy: People want leaders who understand
that employees have private lives and responsibilities outside of
their professional lives. If you don't treat people like human
beings and show interest in them, they will never want to line up
- Fortitude: Effective leaders face problems with
persistence and a demeanor that says: "This too shall pass."
As vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System, Ferguson had to rely on these character traits to
make an important decision on 11 September 2001, when he suggested
that the Federal Reserve Banks remain open after the president
ordered the evacuation of all federal buildings.
"I had enough expertise to know how the electronic payment
system works, how the check clearing system works and how the
banking system works, and why these systems needed to keep open a
flow of payments in this very treacherous time," Ferguson said.
How do leaders acquire expertise, appeal, empathy and
"Practice, practice, practice," Ferguson said.
Ferguson is an attorney and economist. In addition to serving as
vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,
he was head of financial services for Swiss Re, the world's
second-largest reinsurance company, and chair of Swiss Re America
Holding Corporation. Earlier in his career, he worked as an
associate and partner at McKinsey & Company and as an attorney
at Davis Polk & Wardwell.
TIAA-CREF manages a total of $564 billion in assets under
management (as of 31 December 2013) and has 120 offices across the
United States. The company works with more than 15,000 institutions
- primarily serving institutions of higher education.
presentation is available on Darden's YouTube channel.
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is
one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D.
and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience
combines the case study method, top-ranked faculty whose research
advances global managerial practice and business education, and a
tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete
leaders who are ready to make an impact.
For questions or information, contact Abena
Foreman-Trice or a member of the Communication team.
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