Alumni / August 26, 2020

Leading with Self-Awareness and An Open Mind

Chris Steadley, MBA ’12

Chris Steadley, MBA ’12, has consistently used his global mindset in his eight-plus years at advisory and research services firm Gartner. His current role as a senior partner in consulting includes managing business in the Midwest region of the U.S. from a public sector, education, and nonprofit perspective. Steadley’s main responsibility is to oversee the growth of Gartner’s portfolio, which includes delivering the right solutions for clients. He enjoys leading his team to success. “The part of the role that I like the most is overseeing our staff and working on their development and trying to turn them into the best consultants they can be.” Highly developed global mindset competencies are necessary for successful leadership in the business world.

Tolerance of ambiguity, self-awareness, and humility are the most commonly used global mindset competencies in Steadley’s work. He explains, “I work with smart and amazing leaders, consultants, and clients so there are a variety of problems, perspectives, and personalities that we have to navigate.” His work requires him to be aware of his skills and strengths and how others can complement them, especially during the hiring process. He considers how new hires are able to raise the skill level of the whole team and what they can bring to the table that will serve the clients. As a leader, he approaches his work with both colleagues and clients with humility and graciousness, which has helped his career. “That [humility] comes across as genuine, which it is, and that has helped me build trust with the people I work with and the people I work for. Clients who trust me allow me to help navigate some of their most complicated challenges.” These clients span the country and encompass a variety of cultures, perspectives, and workstyles that makes tolerance of ambiguity an invaluable skill. “I’ve lived and worked in Hawaii, the pacific northwest, DC, and the Midwest (Chicago). In each location there is a totally different culture, so flexibility is necessary. Having diversity in our personnel is also important. It allows us to gain different perspectives, which is important to both us and our clients.”

Some of Steadley’s clients manage business across the globe, and he has found that cultural curiosity and adaptability are particularly important global mindset skills for these projects. During his work consulting for a multinational beverage company with operations in China, the U.K., and Mexico, his team needed to quickly and successfully adapt to cultural and business differences. As he describes, “the approach we had to take with each of the different markets to get the information we needed was important. Some cultures are less willing to push the envelope or challenge leadership, some cultures are very open but take longer to discuss business. We had to keep this in mind and tailor our discovery to these cultural differences.” Understanding and accepting the diverse cultures of clients and colleagues is challenging yet essential in multinational workplaces.

When asked his advice for future graduates, Steadley states, “don’t say no to opportunities and don’t shy away from risk. Keep a ‘say yes’ mindset because you have to be willing to accept risk in order to grow.” Steadley’s choice to say yes to a study abroad program in the United Arab Emirates during his MBA program at Smith continues to impact him today. During his study abroad experience, he learned to keep an open mind that is receptive to multiple perspectives, explaining, “people’s different backgrounds and experiences guide their current viewpoint, and there are many different paths to the right answer. The path we think is correct is not always the only way.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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