Business Schools Focus on Building Students into Leaders

To continue our discussion from yesterday on rankings, as Asiangal noted, check out the methodology alongside any rankings. Make sure that the criteria that is being used is important to you! While there are many factors that go into your post-MBA success, perhaps the most important and most difficult to learn, is leadership. As such, business schools are always seeking ways to develop their students’ leadership abilities. Learning to lead requires the development of the hard and soft skills required to conceive of an idea, develop a strategic vision and inspire a group to help you realize this goal. Recognizing that leadership development is a comprehensive endeavor, schools seek to help their students in a variety of ways.

Most schools have adopted formal leadership development programs into their curriculums. Columbia started their Program on Social Intelligence this past year. Similarly, Tuck has the Cohen Leadership Development Program and Chicago has embedded Leadership Exploration and Development into their first year curriculum. These are just a few examples, but virtually every school requires first year students to study leadership. As you research target schools, this is an important aspect of the curriculum to consider.

A few schools also encourage students to explore leadership in the classroom by reflecting on their behavior and interactions with others. Fellow students can offer you great insight into yourself, helping you see the strengths and weaknesses. Harvard offers many opportunities to explore your personal leadership style. Stanford’s Interpersonal Dynamics class, known as Touchy Feely, puts students into groups for an entire quarter to reflect honestly on each other’s behavior. CNN has featured this course as many industry leaders have credited Touchy Feely with being the most influential course they took at business school.

Outside of the classroom, many schools, such as Wharton, organize speaker series and conferences to bring in leaders from business to government.  For example, last year Kellogg’s Leadership Conference featured private sector leaders as well as the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Haas will be hosting a Women In Leadership conference this spring.  Not only do students gain valuable insights from interacting with experienced leaders, but many students hone their own leadership skills in helping to design and run these conferences.

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