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CEU Executive MBA

What Do People Desire in Their Leaders?

22 February 2021

“Throughout history, uncertain times have led people to seek more education. This is as valuable now as it has been in the past.” points out Prof. Austin Lee Nichols, course leader of the CEU Leadership Program at CEU Executive MBA and keynote speaker at the March 4. Berlin Open Day, in his interview with Thomas Lammel.




Thomas Lammel, CEU Executive MBA Senior Program Manager: You combine your world-class academic credentials with being deeply involved in the practical world. How did your passion for organizational psychology develop?

Prof. Austin Lee Nichols: My passion for leadership started at a young age. In high school and college, I constantly sought out leadership roles and training. As I progressed in my psychology studies and research, it seemed like a logical and interesting transition to apply those well-researched ideas in psychology to the business world.


TL: You have a very international career, with academic and professional experience across Asia, Europe, and North America. How do you compare the Executive MBA at CEU with similar programs at institutions across the world?

ALN: Most MBA programs around the world look alike. They generally focus on covering topics representative of the departments within these universities (e.g., Finance, Economics, Accounting, Management).


CEU’s program goes well beyond these traditional courses and foci by presenting new ideas in business and focusing on extremely applied topics that executive fellows can use in their own organizations the moment they leave the classroom.


TL: The CEU Executive MBA id designed for all nationalities, genders, work experiences, professions, and industries. Given the diversity in the programs students and professors, what do you believe it takes to be an international leader? Also, what can participants expect from our intense interdisciplinary leadership modules?

ALN: The challenge with leadership in multiple contexts is that one approach or style that is successful in one situation is often not nearly as effective in another. As such, being an international leader requires flexibility and a full tool box of resources.


In CEU’s leadership modules, executive fellows learn many ideas and theories that they can apply to various situations around the world.


TL: Many of our registered participants are already sharing on social media how excited they are about your talk. Can you give us a short sneak peak of what you will discuss on 4 March?

ALN: In my talk, I’ll focus on some of my research that looks to answer the question, “What Do People Desire in Their Leaders”. Specifically, I will focus on how employees generally desired certain personality traits regardless of the level or type of leadership. In contrast, the desirability of most personality traits is highly dependent on what the leader does and where in the organizational hierarchy the leader and employee are.


TL: The world is experiencing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What piece of advice would you give to people who are considering applying for the CEU Executive MBA given the unprecedented uncertainty?

ALN: Throughout history, uncertain times have led people to seek more education. This is as valuable now as it has been in the past. An Executive MBA, in particular, allows professionals to become more knowledgeable and effective in their current roles and makes them more marketable in future roles.


>>> Curious? Register here for CEU Executive MBA Berlin Open Day to participate in Austin’s presentation!