Leadership starts with understanding people, keynote speaker Dana Ritzcovan ’93 told graduates on May 19, 2018, at the undergraduate commencement celebration for the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
“We hire employees at organizations, yet human beings show up instead,” said Ritzcovan, group managing director and head of human resources for Global Wealth Management at UBS, a global financial services company.
Ritzcovan, a UMD English Department alumna who serves on the Smith School’s Board of Advisors, shared three rules for aspiring leaders.
1. Ask why. People resist change for many reasons. Some people worry about the execution of a good idea, while others worry that the idea itself is not correct. Ritzcovan said effective leaders take time to understand specific concerns. “Leadership is about altering what people think is possible and right by understanding their worldviews,” she said.
2. Stay flexible. When leaders hear new ideas, they resist the impulse to apply their own worldviews. Instead, they withhold judgment and consider the possibilities. “Leaders think, listen and speak differently than others,” Ritzcovan said.
3. Look forward and back. Leaders embrace change, but they also appreciate history. “Leaders speak respectfully about the past, realistically about the present, and optimistically about the future,” Ritzcovan said.
Overall, more than 1,200 Smith School students graduated in two ceremonies. A third ceremony for executive MBA students on July 26, 2018, will bring the total to 1,271 new alumni.