Read the full story by Jonathan Riggs, published by the Tuck School of Business. John Lynch wields his pen like a conductor. It dips and weaves as he shepherds students through each case study in his second-year elective, “The CEO Experience.” It punctuates surprise twists and reversals with a flourish. When Lynch gets really excited, he’s been known to fling it in the air, mortarboard-style.
“His energy is so infectious and you get so wrapped up in the journey that every time he guides you to an epiphany, you’re like, ‘Of course,’” says Brendan Faherty, Tuck ’14, of the former four-term New Hampshire governor. “It’s the kind of class where, after you leave, you keep the discussion going out in the hallway.” It’s easy to see why students are so engaged: Who hasn’t wondered what it’s really like to be a CEO? Entrusted with the power to make transformative change, yet answerable to the market and countless stakeholders, CEOs have much to teach us, according to Lynch. “I want my students to come away better understanding how and why a CEO has to see things differently,” he says. “Whether or not they end up running companies themselves, they’ll be stronger leaders because of this knowledge.” A senior lecturer and senior fellow at Tuck’s Center for Global Business and Government, Lynch created “The CEO Experience” in 2013, structuring it around case studies and class discussions. On this day, the first case illustrates the central message of the course: What seems like a straightforward leadership challenge with an obvious solution proves much more complex when viewed from the C-suite.