MBAe grad’s mission: Develop believers in selfless leadership
Michael LaPierre’s motivations for entering Clemson University’s MBAe program were unlike most of his cohorts. Then again, his life position is also very different from most students in the master’s entrepreneurial program.
LaPierre has already successfully navigated corporate life, having 30 years of managerial experience in sales. In fact, it was the corporate world that is in large part responsible for where the 55-year-old retiree is today.
The recent MBAe graduate started Clemson’s part-time master’s program with the idea of franchising a sales training program. Today, LaPierre’s entrepreneurial venture has him embarking on a variation of his original idea — leadership training through his non-profit ministry, Christian Leadership Worldview International (CLWI).
“Once in the MBAe program, I was led in a different direction,” said LaPierre of Pickens. “I was called to the ministry and changed my approach to training and development from one of making money to one of social entrepreneurship and teaching leadership through a different lens.”
During his business-world journey, LaPierre witnessed many leadership behaviors that were contrary to his business and Christian beliefs. That bad taste led, in part, to his finding a more effective and life-altering way of teaching leadership to organizations and individuals.
“In 30 years of business, I observed those who exhibited true leadership. What they bring is a selfless, servant leadership. That’s what we want to emulate. Too much focus today is on self-aggrandizement and not enough about development of the team for the good of the organization,” LaPierre said.
LaPierre has become an author on his entrepreneurial journey, having written a book, “The Christian Leader’s Worldview,” which has generated positive reviews and sales on Amazon. In the book, he talks about bringing a Christian-centered perspective on leadership and living that is useful for personal growth, mentoring and organizational performance.
“What we are doing is rethinking the traditional missionary model where people travel the world setting up churches,” LaPierre said. “Our missionary message of living a more principled and spiritual life is delivered through a training and development venue to businesses, and we do it through either a ‘stained-glass’ or ‘plain-glass’ approach.”
LaPierre recognizes not all organizations are open to having elements of scripture interjected into the curriculum. For those preferring a more subtle approach, a “plain-glass” version of the training is employed. “We adjust our message on leadership and living based on an organization’s preference,” LaPierre said. “We are seeing benefits to reaching people with both approaches.”
And LaPierre’s start-up is able to reach businesses and non-profits with its training and development approach at less expense than similar for-profit programs. As a non-profit, CLWI is able to raise money through churches that lowers costs for travel, materials and related expenses. The ministry also has low overhead as LaPierre, wife, Calie and son, Kyle are the only employees.
Though taking a less traveled path than most MBAe graduates, LaPierre said the program curriculum and his talented group of cohorts prepared him well for his missionary start-up organization.
“The program curriculum and instruction provide the knowledge base and direction for whatever business path you choose. And, my cohorts were a great blend of accomplished people who provided insights and ideas on how I could bring my idea to market,” LaPierre said. “Clemson’s MBAe program opens doors for ministry-minded people like me and for those pursuing the for-profit sector. The program’s benefits may be more far reaching than the leadership had envisioned.”
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