Executive challenges students to forge their leadership style

February 7, 2023 (Volume 46, Number 11)
Article by Brian Vernellis

Dara Richardson-Heron at podium addressing audience in front of a vertical banner for the Frederik Meijer Honors College

Dara Richardson-Heron addresses students as part of the Meijer Lecture and Wheelhouse Talks Series January 27 in the Eberhard Center.

With more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles across a myriad of industries, Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron cited her parents as an enormous influence on her professional journey.

Richardson-Heron spoke January 27 at the Meijer Lecture and Wheelhouse Talks Series, sponsored by the Meijer Honors College and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. 

Speaking with students in the honors college and the Cook Leadership Academy, Richardson-Heron, a physician, discussed lessons from her career across health care, nonprofit and government sectors. She said her parents often held her and her sisters to high standards, and one particular maxim was frequently quoted in their home.

“They regularly recited the phrase, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” she said. “From early on, they made it very clear to all of us, we were not brought into this world just to serve ourselves, they had expectations for us to leverage our time, our talents, our resources and our passions to enhance the lives of others.”

Richardson-Heron opened her remarks by engaging the audience with a paraphrased tagline from a credit card TV commercial. 

“As I was brainstorming the title of my presentation, I thought, ‘What’s in your leadership wheelhouse?’” she said. “Certainly having the right elements in your leadership wheelhouse has the potential to enhance your life, but also the lives of others.”

Richardson-Heron said while she prepared for past TED Talks events, she had a period of reflection on her own leadership style and the qualities that have resonated with her across her decades in executive positions. 

“I spoke about the three Ps: patience, perspective and perseverance,” she said. 

“So, I want to challenge each of you to go to your edge as leaders, being intentional and purposeful about identifying, honing and refining the key elements in your personal leadership wheelhouse.”

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This article was last edited on February 7, 2023 at 10:24 a.m.

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