Nichols College News

Mass. Leadership Examined by Graduate Students

There comes a time when every business student must put theory and classroom discussion into practice.  Andrew Frydryk is one of twelve graduate students in Professor Ray Guillette’s The Leadership Experience course who did just that. “I have really enjoyed this class," he says, "because it is relevant to my current work experience."

Each student chose a Massachusetts-based company and then, interviewed one management and one non-management employee from that company. Students hypothesized that there would be a perception gap between the management and non-management employees.

Using a primary survey instrument which contained both open and closed questions, students had an opportunity to examine the different perspectives of 102 managers and 86 non-management employees across industry segments. Interview papers summarized what each student took away from the process, and responses were tallied.

Research results were presented on March 10th at Nichols Worcester campus to Rayanne Drouin, director of Graduate & Professional Studies. “It was with great pride that I watched our graduate students present their findings on “The State of Leadership in Massachusetts 2011.” says Drouin. “The research they conducted allowed them to interact with, and learn from, a number of fascinating and powerful leaders.”

Professor Guillette, as the facilitator, was quick to point out the overall study’s limitations, including its tight timeframe and use of a snowball-sampling technique where some of the students recruited subjects among their own acquaintances and thusly, tainted the working demographics of Massachusetts to a younger, well-educated generation.

Of those interviewed, 47 percent were male and 53 percent were female. In addition, 80 percent had bachelor’s degrees, 95% were non-union, and 24 percent of the companies had 10,000+ employees.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Management and non-management employees agreed on the characteristics of effective leaders, as follows:
    • effective communications (most effective)
    • problem solving
    • good learner/good listener
  • Managers said they strongly model their company’s values and goals, but non-management employees were more neutral. 73 percent of the managers rated their leadership ability is “effective,” compared to 40 percent of the non-managers.
  • Both managers and non-managers felt that dedication and self-motivation were important attributes and that a manager’s primary motivator is quality.
  • Management felt their primary role as a leader was that of a facilitator; where as, non-management felt their leader’s primary role was that of a director.
  • There was a disconnect in perceptions when asked if the manager admitted mistakes and took responsibility for actions: 62 percent of managers said “always,” and 31 percent of the non-managers said their leader did so “sometimes.”
  • 67 percent of managers and 48 percent of non-managers said that leadership skills could be acquired and inherited.
  • Finally, it was not surprising that the majority and managers and non-managers saw the biggest challenge facing leadership in their organization was “economics,” then followed by “competition.”

Additional comments on the interviewing of managers were as follows:


Graduate Student

Interviewed Manager’s Traits, Style,
View of Leadership




Perry J. Bonnett

As a manager in higher education, this leader takes the time to know her staff. She believes that leaders are born.



Philip K. Hernandez

As a manager in the development and production of medical devices, he feels that new hires’ expectations are too high.



Kayla Perro

A direct and easy-going manager, he believes his biggest challenge is to grow the company. He wants employees who do their best at the job and have a commitment to excellence.



Tanya A. Beaudry

This manager values tenacity and the ability to hold things together when things aren’t going well. She doesn’t take “no” for an answer!



Katelyn E. Beaton

This V.P. didn’t graduate from college, but she has such a passion for her industry that it propelled her forward to make the goals she set for herself.



Frank T. Mausolf

With 30 years experience as hospital nurse, this manager is well-respected for her open mind and ability to listen. These traits have served her well in watching costs without sacrificing care.



Cynthia Payne

This manager is a good collaborate with the vision to be a leader of change. She can take criticism and remain focused.



Kurtis H. Cormier

A self-made man, this manager worked his way up the ladder and has the technical knowledge to come up with strategy. He can sell an idea “up or down the food chain.”



Andrew J. Frydryk

As a CFO, this manager believes that “sustainability” is the biggest problem he faces. He’s concerned that there are not enough qualified engineers to meet U.S. demand; he looks for new hires who can problem solve.



Brian J. Underwood

This news station manager, he hires staff who are independent and “don’t beat around the bush.” He believes that leaders are made.