USD outlines new leadership program

By Arthur Lipper


Though clearly intended to be a marketing promotion for the University of San Diego’s $52,200 Master of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) program, useful information and insights were conveyed by both Ken Blanchard, the world-renowned author, lecturer and business consultant, and Garry Ridge, president and chief executive officer of WD-40, at a recent presentation on the USD campus.

The pair has developed a process for identifying, constructively orienting and developing leadership skills, to be detailed in their new book, “Helping People Win in Work,” to be published later this year.

Blanchard repeatedly made the point that those who lead most effectively are those who are focused on serving others. It fits with his belief that Jesus Christ was the ultimate leader and there being much to be learned from a study of the techniques used. He noted “profit is the applause for successfully serving people.”

An accepted authority on organizational leadership, Blanchard believes there should be greater executive focus on team building. He also suggested that in many ways, companies would be well to go one step further and create tribes, rather than just teams, as the values of the tribes are longer-lasting. He recommended that those who wish to lead should convey that they “care about those they are leading, be candid, hold people accountable and accept responsibility.”

Ridge, who has been with WD-40 for 36 years, said that at his company, what others might call mistakes are termed as “learning moments,” from which those involved learn and share.

He also made the point that when a leadership badge is worn, responsibilities are accepted.

Ridge stressed that effective companies have a hierarchy of values and all involved know the rankings and priorities.

He cited Southwest Airlines, which emphasizes “servant leadership,” bringing value to the customer with being an airline of only lesser importance as the means of delivering value.

USD’s new MSEL program has been designed for busy executives with 25 students in the cohort, meeting once a month on Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday. The degree candidates are also expected to handle 15 to 20 hours of homework per month and participate in two weeks of programs on USD’s campus. The required books and meals while on campus are included in the cost of the program. MSEL students are provided the tools for change and focus on preparing how best to assist people, develop and market products, and channel and maintain passion.

Kurt May, director of the program, can be reached at (619) 260-7821 or Go to