Overview of processWe looked to use qualitative interviews to gauge the beliefs and perceptions of leadership styles. Introductory questions would serve to gather ideas about backgrounds and interests. Not only does it help contextualize the discussion for the following questions, but it also builds rapport with the interviewee. Our questions centered on three different components of the overall research question:
1. What are the key traits that lead to inspiration and community building in a student setting?
2. Which leadership styles are conducive to maintaining trust while promoting efficiency?
3. What culture are we looking to cultivate to maximize social capital?
We look to split our focus into three separate communities; those on BDC board, our non-board analysts, and industry investing professionals.
What we found
1. What are the key traits that lead to inspiration and community building in a student setting?Through our interviews, we found that all communities generally came together around a few key traits. It's really interesting that although many of them have different rankings, they can all be distilled into core traits that they all believe in. Furthermore, a trend appeared when answering the questions. The interviewees would rattle off a two or three traits pertinent to them, but then begin slowing down. From these initial answers, we can see that those core qualities were the most important. However, they often ranged around five key traits, in which we break down here.
One core trait was vision, an ideal for the group that the partners sign up for. These themes can only help, however, if there is a strong communication. Members want to understand the platform, and see what ideas are being discussed, and where improvements are to be made. Yet at the same time, not everything can be negative. Positivity can help encourage new ideas that offer high potential for changes and additional adjustments. These offer the opportunity for members to be more engaged within the community, especially when realizing their suggestions are taken seriously. Our interviewees had an emphasis on commitment — seeing that their leaders are also in the grounds and working together with the members can bring a huge part to the community building. It's also important to be passionate. It's the belief in goals and improving the group that truly shines through; that's what both board and analysts love to see.
2. Which leadership styles are conducive to maintaining trust while promoting efficiency?Notably, all our interviewees mentioned the importance of trust, but sometimes used it as a synonym for social capital. They emphasized its importance to promote efficiency and develop strong relationships within the partnership. People appreciated the democratic style — the common theme was the significance of valuing everyone's contributions and ideas. Yet at the same time, they noted that although we utilize this method, too much can hurt our efficiency. Notably, industry leaders pointed out the importance to remain nimble and quick. That's where quality investing happens; during the brief period of market misunderstanding. Too much democracy can lead to a slow-moving beast, in which a more authoritative style can improve the environment. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean making decisions on the spot or taking over the process, it can help move the conversation along. Interestingly, although initially it seemed that pacesetting might be extremely important, it wasn't as necessary to community building and improving efficiency. Rather, a third important to promoting efficiency was the coaching style. In this case, it's about investing in younger members to (1) build a relationship from the beginning and (2) train their fundamentals.
3. What culture are we looking to cultivate to maximize social capital?The affilitative style was suggested many times, even though culture can be highly dependent on different persons. As such, we found a basket of characteristics that came up often during our interviews. We found that they like an environment that is:
- emphasizes feedback