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The technology industry learned a lot from Red Burns’ leadership. So can you. It doesn’t matter whether your company is tech-focused or not. If you’re looking for examples of inspirational leadership, look to Red Burns, the former chairwoman of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. For 28 years Burns, an educator who died last month at age 88, led the innovative, tech-based master’s program. She was affectionately known as the Godmother of Silicon Alley. You’ll find graduates of ITP working at Apple, Disney, Google, and Microsoft, as well as small companies and startups. For example, ITP counts Dennis Crowley, the founder of FourSquare, among its more than 3,000 graduates. In his article on CIO Insight, Jack Rosenberger discusses the lessons he learned from reading the many articles and obituaries extolling Burns’ abilities as a leader. The values Burns and the program instilled in her students can inform the way any leader conducts his or her business. Just Another Tool in the Shed Although ITP is a technology-driven program, Burns was not technically adept, as current ITP chairman Daniel B. O’Sullivan noted in her New York Times obituary. “She really had zero technical aptitude.” Rather, she believed that technology was a means to an end; a tool to enrich peoples’ lives. She once summed it up in an interview by saying that, “the computer is just another tool. It’s like a pen. You have to have a pen, and to know penmanship, but neither will write the book for you.” Technology is simply a vehicle for your business creativity. Use it to deliver products and services that delight customers, improve people’s circumstances and bring meaning to their lives. Cultivate Collaboration Burns fostered a collaborative environment at ITP, which continues today. She eschewed competition because she believed that competitive people—while energetic and interesting—were so intent on competing that they missed more opportunities than they found. “They just want ‘better, bigger, stronger, longer,’ and they miss the periphery,” Burns said during a New York Times interview in 2007. “And that

Read more http://business.time.com/2013/09/27/lead-like-the-godmother-of-silicon-alley/

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