Ten Lessons about Leadership from the 2013 MacArthur Fellows

Here are ten lessons about leadership and innovation we can take from this year’s MacArthur Fellows, recognized for their originality, contributions to their field, and creativity in their work.

1. The past can teach us volumes about the future. Effective innovation requires innovative research into how we got here.

Paleobotanist C. Kevin Boyce has established links between ancient plant remains and present-day ecosystems through an integrative approach to evolutionary plant biology.

2. Just because a leader is good at one skill doesn’t mean s/he can’t do what seems like an opposite skill with equal eloquence.

Pianist and Writer Jeremy Denk engages listeners with classical music ability paired with equally virtuoso ability with words.

3. Innovation sometimes means coming up with a solution that pays attention to people’s basic needs.

Physician Jeffrey Brenner created a comprehensive health care delivery model to serve high-risk patients in impoverished communities.

4. New techniques can preserve old information, making innovation something that helps us cherish and understand the past.

Audio Preservationist Carl Haber developed new technologies to preserve deteriorating sound recordings of value to cultural heritage and history.

5. Leaders need to do good research — that means going into the archives and talking to a lot of people to get a complete picture of a problem.

Public Health Historian Julie Livingston uses ethnography and archival searches of medical records to explain failures and successes in health care all over the world.

6. Leadership possibilities don’t end when we fail, falter or need help. It’s all about reconnecting, reframing, retraining…

Neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg explores how brain processes can be re-connected to restore sight with prosthetics that correct macular degeneration and other diseases that cause progressive blindness.

7. Sometimes you just need to know how to ask better, more complex questions to get the information you need!

Statistician Susan Murphy created new methodologies to evaluate treatment programs for people with chronic disorders, so that adaptive responses over time can be measured, and better treatments provided.

8. Effective use of old information helps us solve new problems, especially when we look at it over time and compare databanks.

Agricultural ecologist David Lobell answers questions about food security and climate change by looking at big chunks of eco-data with interdisciplinary attention.

9. Good leaders have to know when to keep their noses to the short-term grindstone or show true grit and persist in visionary, long-term goals.

Research Psychologist Angela Duckworth distinguishes between self-control (the voluntary regulation of behavior that allows for short-term persistence) and grit (the tendency to sustain interest in and shift effort towards long-term goals).

10. Effective leaders look for inspiration in unlikely places — interdisciplinary curiosity, creativity and innovation can be found in every field, offering insights and methods to open up better questions and answers.

Which is to say, you don’t have to get a MacArthur “Genius Grant” to be inspired by them. Congratulations to all the MacArthur Fellows, 2013, and thanks for your achievements!

engaging listeners and readers in a deeper appreciation of classical music through unmatched musical ability paired with an unusual eloquence with words. – See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2013/#sthash.gzfLLtTF.dpuf
engaging listeners and readers in a deeper appreciation of classical music through unmatched musical ability paired with an unusual eloquence with words. – See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2013/#sthash.gzfLLtTF.dpuf

Paleobotanistestablishing links between ancient plant remains and present-day ecosystems through a pioneering and integrative approach to evolutionary plant biology.- See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2013/#sthash.prQMigDH.dpuf
C. Kevin Boyce is a paleobotanist whose studies of both extinct and living plants across multiple timescales are establishing direct links between ancient remains and present-day ecosystems and advancing our understanding of potential ecological changes as the planet warms. – See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/885/#sthash.UsUjmsXY.dpuf

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

C. Kevin Boyce

Paleobotanist

Associate Professor, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Age: 39

Published September 25, 2013

C. Kevin Boyce is a paleobotanist whose studies of both extinct and living plants across multiple timescales are establishing direct links between ancient remains and present-day ecosystems and advancing our understanding of potential ecological changes as the planet warms.

– See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/885/#sthash.UsUjmsXY.dpuf

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

C. Kevin Boyce

Paleobotanist

Associate Professor, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Age: 39

Published September 25, 2013

C. Kevin Boyce is a paleobotanist whose studies of both extinct and living plants across multiple timescales are establishing direct links between ancient remains and present-day ecosystems and advancing our understanding of potential ecological changes as the planet warms.

– See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/885/#sthash.UsUjmsXY.dpuf

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

C. Kevin Boyce

Paleobotanist

Associate Professor, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Age: 39

Published September 25, 2013

C. Kevin Boyce is a paleobotanist whose studies of both extinct and living plants across multiple timescales are establishing direct links between ancient remains and present-day ecosystems and advancing our understanding of potential ecological changes as the planet warms.

– See more at: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/885/#sthash.UsUjmsXY.dpuf

One comment

  1. […] she didn’t back down. And third, she worked whether she got paid or not, applying grit (to use another Fellow’s term) to keep going until she simplified the […]

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