Coming off of Villanova University’s NCAA Basketball Championship win last week, the entire Villanova community has certainly been ecstatic (AIC’s founder, for one, has received multiple congratulatory notes and praises from friends, family, and colleagues, even though she’s made it known that she personally had nothing to do with it).
Villanova’s win has gotten us thinking more broadly about the entire Villanova student and alumni population - are all Villanovans of the same championship breed as those who played under 2x Championship Coach, Jay Wright? If so, what is it about the university that distinguishes its students from other institutions of higher learning?
To help us answer our questions, we begin by looking to Villanova’s recent recognition by Forbes as one of the top 25 schools in the nation that dominate both academically and athletically. While we don’t think anyone would argue that having solid academic standing sets students up nicely for workplace success, multiple studies indicate academics in-of-themselves are just not enough – especially for those who desire to ultimately lead the highest ranks of an organization. Athletics complement skills acquired through academics by building qualities such as confidence, self respect and teamwork – attributes that have been proven essential for organizations to thrive.
Outside athletics and academics, however, there’s an entirely separate dimension that the Forbes article doesn’t touch on – development of the human soul. For those unaware, Villanova was founded by Catholic priests and religious from the Order of Saint Augustine (OSA). The very person OSA is named after, Saint Augustine of Hippo, made such profound philosophical contributions to society that they shaped Western civilization as we know it today.
Augustinian values are integrated into the Villanova experience in many ways; examples include universal undergraduate requirements in philosophy and humanities, recurring and frequent opportunities to pray as a community on-campus, and a strong commitment to serving others. It’s perhaps this last example – serving others – that should be expanded upon.
Community service is tightly-woven within the fabric of the Villanova community – whether that be through their annual hosting of the State of Pennsylvania’s Special Olympics, providing students with the opportunity to tutor Philadelphia’s inner-city students, or sponsoring Habitat for Humanity and mission trips during academic breaks. It is through community service that human empathy is developed, and empathy, according to Harvard Business Review’s (HBR’s) book, “On Emotional Intelligence” (an HBR “10-Must Reads”), is one of 5 key traits that is found in those with high emotional intelligence. HBR also states that it’s emotional intelligence – moreso than high technical skills or IQ – that sets great leaders from everyone else.
In conclusion, when presented with the option of hiring or doing business with a Villanovan, you won’t be disappointed in your decision to do so – you’ll most likely be working with a highly well-rounded individual whose multi-dimensional characteristics will set your organization up for success, ultimately making you the NCAA Championship-equivalent of whatever field you are in.