‘THE NEXT ITERATION OF OUR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM’
Among the hottest topics of new MBA courses this year: leadership. Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Yale, and Darden all have new offerings exploring the topic in one way or another.
At the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, long-time instructor Mindy Storrie will helm an unusual approach to leadership education. Storrie’s core course, Leadership: Self & Team and Leadership: Self & Career, split between semesters, will go to where the students are, coordinating with all the different aspect of their life. Calling it “atypical,” she says the course incorporates “what’s going on in the students’ life that can help them be very effective team members and takes advantage of what’s going on in their life as opposed to walking into a classroom for a lecture.” In some cases, she says, that means addressing the students briefly at lunchtime or in different classes or during events held by the school’s Career Management Office.
At a recent CMO career lab, Storrie says, she was given 20 minutes in each classroom to help students understand how to incorporate a leadership action plan with a career action plan. The information and assessments the students received will be valuable when they sit with their coaches, she says, their “partner” with whom every student works one on one for their two years in the MBA program.
“We felt like this is the next iteration our leadership program, taking it to the next level in how we engage our students and align with everything that’s going on with their life,” Storrie says. “So the spring version of the course is intended to align with what’s going on with them broadly as team members. Then as they move into the second half of the year they actually customize the activities that they choose so that they are aligned with their career goals.”
DELIVERABLES, POINTS, AND ‘ADDING VALUE’
Storrie, who has taught at Kenan-Flagler for 17 years, initially served as the director of career management and now directs the school’s leadership program. She designed the new course based on student input about what can be better done to prepare them to compete for the best jobs.
Just like any core course, Leadership will have deliverables — eight fall deliverables due in January. In the spring, the class will switch things up, asking MBAs to begin selecting activities that are aligned with the skills and competencies they want to develop that are also closely aligned with their career goals. They will customize how they earn points and be required to amass 12.
“You might decide that you’re going to do a business simulation that’s based on a marketing scenario and then sit down and engage with a coach one on one after you’ve finished the simulation to debrief and learn from that experience,” Storrie says. “Some other students might choose to do actual roleplay as their activities, some other students might decide that they’re going to go to workshops that would help them to better understand differences and diversity and how better to lead a very diverse team.”
Always, she says, coaches will be there to help the students.
“Of course it seems very intuitive that the more frequently a student can be engaging with the same coach, the better the outcome for the student — the more value that coach could offer to them,” Storrie says. “And so we were looking for ways to have more touchpoints, but as you know, students have more choices than time, so it was very important to think about what is actually going on in their experience so that we were complementing what the CMO was already doing.
“We wanted to be sure we were adding value, we weren’t just adding activities. That was the idea.”
(See the chart of all new MBA courses at top-20 schools on the next page.)