Greg PhD '21, Organizational Leadership
Photographer. Communications leader. Calling-pursuer.
Are there any “Courage To ______________” words/phrases that you think would capture your story well?
REACH!!! Pursuing my PhD takes courage. For me it is embracing the Courage to Reach, to reach for the vision and calling God has placed on my heart and to pursue a terminal degree when others might ask why. It also means to reach for new ideas, to gain new understanding, new insights, and to reach for new opportunities to collaborate with others who might challenge me and help me grow.
How does the prop you brought represent you?
My camera is a Zone VI 4x5 film camera. Photographing with film is a very thoughtful process. There are many deliberate steps required to taking a film image with this camera, from understanding types of film, to the art of composition, exposure, lighting and printing. This type of photography (large format) requires you to be a student of the process and an artist in the craft, and that must be coupled with a spirit of determination. Carrying this equipment up mountains, near cliffs, or into city traffic for the right image sometimes means I have to find alternate routes to get where my mind’s eye tells me I should be. Such is with being a PhD student and scholar in Organizational Leadership. Leadership and expectations of leadership are constantly changing. It’s influenced by cultures, economics, relevant failures and successes, and changing societal norms. My hope is to bring respected scholarship and years of business experience to aspiring future leaders. I want to offer both the science and the art of leadership. Like film photography, leadership, and the study of it, should be a thoughtful process. Thoughtful and, understandably, never easy. For me, it means continuing to press forward in my studies, so I can reach the spot where God’s spirit and my mind’s eye would have me.
How would you describe courage in one sentence?
Courage is the willingness to follow your beliefs and go where no one would expect you to go, especially when “no one” includes even you.
How did getting your degree require courage?
Sometimes it takes courage to follow a path, even when you know that path is your true life’s calling. For me, I decided to pursue my PhD despite advice to just keep “climbing the corporate ladder.” Some argued that the return on investment for a PhD isn’t worth it, but how can you compare salary against the value of inner peace. My hope is to use my experiential acumen and learned scholarship to teach future leaders on the art and science of leadership. The good thing is that my kids see me pursing my dream and it helps reinforce the power of scholarship to them. They remind me of how brave I am for doing this and it’s all the affirmation that I need.
How does your current job or career path require courage?
I’ve worked in corporate communications for many years and have worked with leaders of Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. As an advisor to leaders, I’ve had to occasionally deliver counsel that goes against “accepted norms” as I believed leaders were going against strategy, ethics, or research-recommended courses of action. Research has shown that more than 70 percent of change efforts in organizations fail and often senior leadership decisions are at the center of that failure. Yet, why aren’t senior leaders respectfully challenged when decisions are on the table? In many ways, it comes down to courage. All too often supporting leaders don’t offer guidance and insight for fear of being labeled as “disloyal” or not wanting to risk potential reward or recognition. But I refuse to work or live by a spirit of fear. I believe God has given me experiences, education and insights to help serve others, and that is what I strive to bring to my vocation every day.
How did EU help you become more courageous in your thinking and actions?
Sometimes the most powerful words you can hear when you share a dream or experience is “me too.” That is what Eastern afforded me when I entered the program and began to discuss thoughts about areas of interest for research. Knowing that other scholars were curious about some of the same things as me, or that adult learners experienced some of the same life challenges as me, is very uplifting. There are research ideas that I’ve held internally and didn’t feel comfortable sharing until I reached Eastern. Now, to have respected faculty confirm the validity and potential of those ideas is so empowering and uplifting. It’s certainly allowed me to be more courageous in my thinking, and I can’t wait to see some of my research ideas come to fruition.
Where do you hope courage will lead you in the future?
I hope courage will lead me across that stage to receive that special sash that denotes a terminal degree (smile); and from there, to the front of a classroom where I hope to help guide aspiring leaders with a sense of spirit, science, art and service.