Where MBAs Write ‘Love Letters’ To Their Profs

On entrepreneurship professor Greg Fairchild: “Fairchild’s class felt like an intimate, intellectual conversation amongst 65 of your closest friends, not a typical classroom.”

I am writing this letter to recommend Professor Greg Fairchild as the Faculty Recipient of the
2014 Frederick S. Morton Leadership Award.

No matter how I thought about leadership in all its various forms, Professor Greg Fairchild was always the first name that came to my mind. I was lucky enough to have Greg as a professor twice at Darden, first during FY Core Strategy and then as a SY in his Business Ethics through Literature course – undoubtedly one of the most outstanding classes I’ve ever taken. During FY, I first began to notice and appreciate Professor Fairchild’s leadership style. While several leaders tend to own a situation or issue commands on the basis of legitimate power through their authoritative position, Greg’s leadership style is built on referent power and the strength of his relationships with students. Thus, Fairchild’s class felt like an intimate, intellectual conversation amongst 65 of your closest friends, not a typical classroom.

It takes a certain type of person and leader to fully manage the case method and make the most out of the educational situation it provides. Professor Fairchild takes on that task using a leadership style built on trust and relationships, getting to know each of his students individually and learning about their passions, ideas, beliefs, and logic on an intimate level. In addition, the intimacy is not a one‐way street as Greg often shares candid memories and stories of his past and upbringing, both personal and business‐oriented, unveiling a true picture of the man and leader that he truly is and bringing the level of reciprocity necessary to build strong trustworthy relationships. With the relationship extended beyond that of professor/student or leader/follower, Greg gets the most out of everyone – bringing the discussion and the experience to the highest level possible.

Not only does Greg exhibit leadership in the classroom while teaching students the finer points of strategy and ethics, but he also provides students with opportunities to build deeper connections with each other and himself, stressing the importance of relationships. Weekly reading team dinners are “required” as part of his SY Ethics course and class dinners at the Fairchild house are the norm, providing students with the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level which breeds a more intimate conversation about some of the more complicate and controversial topics discussed.

What I truly took away from Greg’s leadership style is that you have to be open, honest, and trust one another to successfully accomplish any goal or task together. Greg truly wants to build a relationship with each and every one of his students, a relationship that extends well beyond the walls of Darden and the lessons of ethics or strategy. He deeply cares about each of his students and wants to not only see us succeed in our chosen careers but also find happiness and balance in our personal lives.

With relationships built on a deeper connection than leader/follower, Greg gets the most out of his students. While I know it is not possible to build this type of relationship with each and every one of my co‐workers and subordinates in the working world, I believe this is the best way to fully engage and get the most out of those who surround you. As poet John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” In leadership and in life, no truer statement can be made. We must work with, live with, and learn from people in all aspects of our life – something that is not possible without underlying relationships that allow us to fully embrace, trust, understand, love, and respect those around us. Greg Fairchild is a living example of this and his leadership in and out of the Darden classroom is something that should be celebrated by all.

Because of this, I am thrilled to nominate Professor Greg Fairchild as the 2014 Faculty Recipient of the Frederick S. Morton Leadership Award.

Darden MBA Matt Priest

Best Regards,

Matthew Priest,
Darden MBA,
Class of 2014