Leadership development for developed leaders—At the top schools, it has a lot to do with the talent in the room
[LSE entrance photo: Umezo KAMATA]
Financial Times recently featured the growth of Masters in Management (MiM) degrees at leading business schools around the world.
One key difference between “traditional” MBA programs and executive MiM courses is the average age of the student. MiM candidates tend to be a generation or two older with more real-world management experience.
FT quotes Stanford’s Mike Hochleutner: “The core curriculum is similar to the core of our MBA, but because of the nature of who is in the room — as well as our customized content that targets this demographic — the conversation is different.”
So with EMBA and executive MiM degrees, what are the differences in how leadership is taught to more experienced and—hopefully—more “developed” leaders?
Our work with TRIUM offers some answers.
TRIUM is a Global EMBA program benefiting from the unique combination of three diverse and highly respected institutions – NYUStern, LSE and HEC Paris. TRIUM has been consistently top ranking in the FT Global EMBA Rankings.
It also attracts a more senior demographic-executives into their 40s with about 16 years experience, according to Dr. Mary Logan, past academic dean of TRIUM.
Beginning in 2008, Dr. Logan was instrumental in building the leadership component of the TRIUM EMBA experience. Executive Development Group partner Dr. Randall P. White, a TRIUM leadership professor, worked closely with Dr. Logan at TRIUM during this time.
With classes of such seasoned executives we find that leadership development is facilitated by the talent in the classroom as much as the curriculum.
It’s the job of the faculty to present leading edge material and to cause the sharing of ideas and experiences to bring real life to the discussion.
It starts with professors doing their homework on their student backgrounds—reading all the biographies and learning as much as they can about each student’s goals, needs, strengths and weaknesses. And it culminates in structuring class experiences that effectively group students so they benefit from each other the most, based on specific experiences. So a less globally experienced student might be learning along side a worldly expatriate. Financial executives could be paired with product developers.
“It is the cohort you’re dealing with that determines what the leadership training needs to be,” says Dr. Logan. “Everyone there has an opportunity to look at themselves in a safe environment—look introspectively—and to have the support of friends and other professionals to help them take this deep, introspective look.”
During Dr. Logan’s tenure, the idea of self-awareness and opportunities to see how others view you along with how you can become a learning leader were advanced and merged with a more hard-skill leadership curriculum. For example, how can you apply some of these learnings to change management or entrepreneurial start-ups?
Since you have students who have already experienced these challenges, the person leading the discussion should see that students learn from each other,” says Dr. Logan. “Randy White is very good at getting people to talk about their experiences and realize that no matter how high up the ladder you may be, there is a lot to learn from others in the group and the information from the self-awareness exercises.
“This takes a very special professor because leadership development at any level is personal and private, and the tone has to be right to get students to open up and share.”
She advises that professors have to show that they’re interested in students as individuals and take a humble approach, e.g., “I’m here as a teacher but you are the one out there leading the organizations.“
And it’s true. The talent assembled in a room of very accomplished executives—sometimes 80 students representing 35 nations—makes the experience all the more powerful.
In many ways, the students are the program.
“We had a student who was the CEO of an NGO in Southern India—our first scholarship!
“Through her, we were able to take students to see initiatives in villages her organization served supporting hospitals, orphanages, sewer treatment, etc.,” says Dr. Logan. “The class was able to see what can be done when NGOs are well managed. One of the classes even adopted a village to help provide potable water and education.”