Insights from: Mary C. Gentile, Edward D. Hess, Sean Martin, Morela Hernandez, and Lynn A. Isabella

On Selection Sunday, UVA men’s basketball received a No. 1 seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the fourth time in the past six years the team has been awarded a top seed. With a 29-3 record for the 2018–19 season, the program serves as a consummate example of a high-achieving, efficient team. 

Coach Tony Bennett has based the team’s culture on a foundation of “five pillars.” Here, professors at the UVA Darden School of Business expand on the importance of each pillar. 


 “Narcissistic teammates tend to be flashy and demonstrate self-confidence and comfort with risk taking — and sadly these traits may lead to the initial perception that they are impressive. But studies show that they are also more likely to disparage others, take more than reasonable credit, hog opportunities for themselves, engage in impulsive behavior and respond defensively to feedback. Far more effective, both in the day-to-day and long-term, strategic work: humility. The humble colleague is more likely to cultivate trust, encourage an exchange of ideas, help others to develop while being open to their own areas for development, show empathy and generosity, and succeed at work that requires change or assessment. Humility leads to genuine collaboration — the cornerstone of any high-functioning team.”

—Sean Martin co-authored “Echoes of Our Upbringing: How Growing Up Wealthy or Poor Relates to Narcissism, Leader Behavior and Leader Effectiveness.” 


“If your team is to join you in pursuing a goal, show them a reason to reach it. It’s not enough for you to believe in reaching a higher, better standard — the skill of leadership involves inculcating that same fervent, passionate belief in others. That they can reach it. To inspire higher aspirations in people, show them that what you’re doing matters by making your messages personally relevant — demonstrate you see the problems they face, the qualities they bring to the table and what their personal needs may be. By understanding those you lead, by leveraging their strengths and pushing them outside their comfort zones toward that shared aspiration, you can inspire people to believe in their own abilities to reach exceptional heights.

Of course, it’s easier to inspire the people around you if you actually care about what you’re saying. And it’s even easier when those around you — the social context — are echoing your belief in the team’s success. Passion can’t be lukewarm because inspiration doesn’t happen halfway. It’s an individual attitude propelled by the collective voices who believe and make you believe in a better end.”

Morela Hernandez expands on these ideas in the video Three Things: How to Inspire Others. 


 “In any team, there will be conflict — more important is how the team functions as a whole and how skilled its members are. The most successful teams communicate well, building on each other’s ideas. They agree on the team’s overarching mission, but they also each have a meaningful, internalized objective that makes the broader goal their own. And they have an ordered internal process in place which, though it may evolve, receives the attention and commitment of all involved. Ultimately, the roles of each team member are clearly defined, but they exist in a state of interdependence and true partnership.”

—Lynn Isabella authored “Teams and Teamwork: A Foundation.”


“How can we help our colleagues — and ourselves — bring our “whole selves” to work? Unfortunately, many of us will run into situations in which the person we want to be may be in conflict with the expectations of our organizations, our bosses, even our peers. But if we can emphasize alignment between our individual sense of purpose and that of the organization, if we can build commitment to our goals by supporting our teammates with peer feedback and coaching, if we can express our needs while considering those of the people around us, and perhaps most importantly, if we can practice ways to constructively voice and enact our values, we may find the skills, the scripts and the comfort to be our best selves in all situations — not just the easy ones.”

—Mary Gentile is author of the award-winning book Giving Voice to Values and curriculum of the same name. 


“Be thankful each morning for the gift of life — another day to embrace your learning journey. Give thanks throughout your day to those that serve you, help you and who are kind and giving to you. Give thanks to those people who have the courage to help you learn by pointing out your mistakes or transgressions and who challenge you to take your ‘game’ to a higher level. Give special thanks each day to your loved ones and teammates — remembering that no one achieves their full potential by themselves. We all need others to be all we can be. Strive each day to live your thankfulness by giving others your best self by being kind and caring with an open, loving heart.”

—ed hess co-authored the book Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age.

About Mary C. Gentile

Recently shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Ideas Into Practice Distinguished Achievement Award and dubbed “the Practical Ethicist” in Compliance Week’s 2017 Top Minds Awards, Gentile is an authority in values-driven leadership. Author of the award-winning book Giving Voice to Values, her curriculum of the same name has been piloted in more than 1,000 business schools and organizations around the globe.

In addition to her roles as creator/director of Giving Voice to Values and professor of practice at Darden, Gentile is senior adviser at the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and consults on management education and leadership development.

B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo

About Morela Hernandez

Hernandez is an expert on leadership, with research focusing on the ethics of leadership and the influence of diversity on organizational decision-making and processes.

Before coming to Darden, Hernandez worked in finance. She has also served as a leadership development coach at Duke University and the London Business School, as well as a business ethics adviser at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke.

Hernandez previously taught at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, where she was honored with numerous teaching awards. She is widely published and frequently serves on Academy of Management panels and committees.

Hernandez speaks four languages.

B.A., Rice University; Ph.D., Duke University Fuqua School of Business

About Edward D. Hess

Hess is a top authority on organizational and human high performance. His studies focus on growth, innovation and learning cultures, systems and processes, and servant leadership.

Hess has authored 12 books, including The Physics of Business Growth: Mindsets, System and Processes, co-authored by Darden Professor Jeanne Liedtka, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses, and Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization. His latest book is Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age (January 2017), co-authored by Katherine Ludwig. He has written more than 100 articles and 60 Darden cases, and his work has appeared in more than 400 global media publications and programs.

B.S., University of Florida; J.D., University of Virginia; LLM, New York University

About Lynn A. Isabella

Isabella is an expert in leadership and how people think about change. She is an authority on leading and managing in a global environment and in competency in global leadership. As a teacher, consultant and executive coach, she teaches individuals and companies to develop talent and organizational effectiveness. Her research focuses on questions of developing personal leadership expertise, leading change as a middle manager and on the events that shape individual careers and propel organizational change.

Isabella is co-author of the books Alliance CompetenceLeader and Teams: The Winning Partnership and The Portable MBA, Fifth Edition.

B.S., Tufts University ; Ed.M., Harvard University; MBA, DBA, Boston University

About Sean Martin

An expert in leadership, social class and ethics, Martin’s research addresses how organizational and societal contexts impart values and beliefs onto leaders and followers, and how those values influence their behaviors and experiences. His work has been featured in top academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Ethics and Organizational Psychology Review, as well as mainstream media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., Harvard Business Review and Comedy Central. 

Prior to joining the Darden faculty, Martin taught at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. 

B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara; MBA, California Polytechnic State University; Ph.D., Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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