MBA News: Stanford’s new curriculum emphasizes leadership development

Stanford’s new curriculum will help students develop into leaders, according to Evelyn Williams, Director of Stanford‘s Center for Leadership Development and Research Leadership, in the WSJ.com. The interview with Ms. Williams explores whether leadership is actually a teachable skill and how Stanford plans to develop leadership in MBA students.

Ms. Williams acknolwedges that leadership is a combination of both nature and nurture. But while some people seem to have a natural gift to be leaders, everyone can develop leadership skills. She views leadership as an art which must be taught differently than “hard” skills like accounting and finance. Ms. Williams says that students will be given opportunities to reflect and develop self-awareness in order to “develop their personal leadership style.”

With the new curriculum at Stanford, students “will go through a number of self-assessments to measure their progress in becoming more effective leaders, and they’ll be mentored by second-year MBA ‘leadership fellows’, faculty advisers, leadership coaches, and alumni.” Ms. Williams adds that students will take part in lab simulations that are more realistic than case studies, including exercises with trained second-year students who “will get unruly and give negative feedback if students don’t handle the situation well.” Students will also interact with corporate executives and address situations around balancing work-life stress.

Of course, Stanford is not the only school emphasizing leadership development, as just about every MBA program is trying to address leadership. For example, Kellogg will be hosting a “Seasons of Leadership” conference this fall, and Tuck has a leadership forum. Be sure to check on your schools of interest and consider how you could become involved in their leadership programs. They would love to hear your thoughts in your application.

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