Dr. Peter Dominick is passionate about developing leaders, and a primary focus of his research is how multi-source feedback is a critical part of leadership development. He has found that effective leadership development comes not only from open and honest feedback from others but also from guiding what leaders do with that feedback.
Dr. Dominick has been part of the Stevens Institute of Technology School of Business faculty since 2001. He currently serves as a professor and academic program coordinator for the school’s MBA and executive MBA programs. As a consultant, he takes part in executive coaching, behavioral assessment, training program development and process consultation. He has also published several successful papers on multi-source feedback and other aspects of leadership development.
Below, Dr. Dominick discusses the importance of his research, its role in leadership development and how it all works together to inform the online Analytics MBA program curriculum at Stevens Institute of Technology.
WHY IS MULTI-SOURCE FEEDBACK ESSENTIAL IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT?
Leader development is all about learning and growing from experience. Getting feedback and reflecting on what that feedback means in the context of what’s important to you is an integral element. Multi-source feedback can be a powerful tool for activating that kind of awareness. How are other people experiencing me? What’s coming across that relates to me? What do I care about? Where am I missing something?
Having said all of that, it’s just a tool, and it’s far from perfect. It’s not a silver bullet. However, we know certain things about people who tend to succeed in leadership roles, and one of those is that they’re open to feedback — especially constructive feedback.
Understanding how others experience you can go a long way toward building commitment and trust. What matters is what we do when we get that information. It’s one thing for me to see it. It’s another for me to take the time to try to approach it with curiosity and be open to the fact that sometimes people don’t see me in quite the way I think I’m coming across. One of the things we know when it comes to whether or not that kind of information is helpful is that having follow up conversations with people to understand it better is very important.
The bottom line is that multi-source feedback is an essential and valuable tool for learning and growing. In our MBA leader development course, we want our students to have that experience, but many people coming into the program haven’t yet been exposed to multi-source feedback in a structured way. We make it an integral part of our leadership development training. It is a worthwhile experience, regardless of where students are at in their professional development.
HOW DOES YOUR RESEARCH IMPACT YOUR TEACHING?
I’m interested in how people develop as leaders, and the processes by which we learn and grow from our experiences underpin my research and teaching. We have incorporated that awareness of what science tells us about behavior change into the curriculum. Leadership development is behavior change. The most helpful lens has been social cognition and examining how our environment shapes our attitudes and beliefs. Growth mindset is an example of social cognition. Locus of control is another related concept we deal with in the course. Both are largely socially acquired beliefs and ways of thinking. My interest has been in examining how those relate to decision-making and behavior change.
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EVOLVE OVER THE LAST 10-15 YEARS?
The ideas of learning agility, learning from failure and being aware of fixed-mindset triggers have become a part of leadership development over the last several years. The notion of mindfulness has also infiltrated leader development practice and experience. I think that’s one of the most significant changes.
There is also more and more of a move toward on-demand leader development. People want to know how readily they can have resources available and how they can better process their experiences. That on-demand approach is a part of our MBA curriculum. What we’re trying to do in our leadership course is foster a classroom environment that creates experiences people can model and practice. We want our students to ask themselves questions involving self-reflection to better connect with their values and professional goals.
WHAT MAKES STEVENS’ ANALYTICS MBA PROGRAM UNIQUE?
Stevens has a unique character. If you come to Stevens, you’re going to attend a school founded on the premise of applied innovation. Stevens has always been about engineering and science in the service of some application, and I think that transcends the university. On the one hand, what you’ll experience at Stevens is a school committed to innovation that recognizes that, especially in today’s world, technology is at the core of everything we do. It’s part of the environment. Especially in the business school, from an educational standpoint, we’ve had a lot of experience working with technically-trained people to explore questions such as “How do my leadership skills improve my ability to bring my technical expertise to bear on business decisions?”
An essential part of how we’ve developed is by working with students and with thousands of technical professionals from organizations like NASA, IBM, the Department of Defense and ExxonMobile. Our awareness of what the professional challenges are as people try to span technology and business is another strength that people will experience at the Stevens School of Business.
WHAT QUALITIES LEAD TO STUDENT SUCCESS IN THIS PROGRAM?
The people who get the most out of the program come into it wanting to learn. So, focus on what you want to get out of it. Ask yourself if this experience will help you better understand what’s important to you. I honestly think that’s the key to a successful graduate school experience. Hopefully, too, people realize that graduate education is more about learning with the people leading a class than about being told what to think or how to think.
Come ready to engage and to develop those higher-order critical thinking capabilities when it comes to decision-making. We’re all actors in that process. What we say or do as individuals moves us toward or away from better decision-making in groups. That’s leadership. The same principle applies in your education. Come to graduate school ready to participate fully and to elevate the learning experience of the people around you. Those are the things I encourage people to do as they step into any graduate program, but especially when they come to work with us at Stevens.
Stevens delivers its 39-credit MBA program 100% online to accommodate the needs of busy ambitious professionals. Courses led by industry executives and academics prepare students for success as analysts and entrepreneurs. The MBA program’s unique leadership-driven curriculum focuses on design thinking, artificial intelligence, business analytics and the power of data to drive decision-making. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stevens’ online MBA among the nation’s top 20 online business analytics programs and #1 in the state of New Jersey. Start your Stevens MBA application online today to prepare for a data-driven future.