Dysfunction can take many forms in an organization. At best, you’ll find employees who are ignorant of the mission and indifferent to the results. At worst, they clam up, knowing the punishment for speaking up or thinking outside the confines will be sure and swift. Here, the rules are arbitrary, ever-changing, and favor a select few. In these workplaces, employees are viewed as disposable — and they treat their jobs in kind.
Show me a dysfunctional team and I’ll point you to a fearful, self-interested manager who is over his head. Fact is, managers set the example. A great manager is an extension of an authentic person. Make no mistake, managers need a foundation that’s grounded in psychology as much as technical aptitude. That’s the point of Managing Social and Human Capital, a four week tour de force on the fundamentals on leadership taught by two of Wharton’s most acclaimed instructors.
The course can be broken down into three distinct areas. The course opens with the cornerstone of any leadership training: choosing, motivating, and rewarding employees. This includes the best practices in delivering feedback, fostering teamwork, and assessing performance. The second and fourth weeks take a more engineering-focused look at management. Using cases from firms ranging from General Motors to Charles Schwab, this segment makes the case that form follows function. It examines how to design jobs and organize teams to maintain flexibility while maximizing productivity. Finally, this MOOC dives into decision-making, looking at the steps needed to make fair and timely decisions while minimizing mental traps like biases.
A DOSE OF WHAT FIRST-YEAR MBAS AT WHARTON GET
Best of all, the course introduces students to the same concepts learned by first-year Wharton MBAs. Taught through videos and readings, the MOOC also exposes students to Michael Useem and Peter Cappelli, two of the top thinkers in management and long-time Wharton faculty members. Useem has authored or co-authored nearly a dozen books on leadership, including the acclaimed The Leader’s Checklist. Cappelli is just as prolific, with his 2012 book, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, being excerpted in both the Wall Street Journal and Time.
What is some advice that students can expect to gain from the course? In a 2012 interview with McKinsey, Useem laid out the essential challenge facing leaders in the modern world. “Because the world is now more complicated and more uncertain,” he says, “I think that on top of always having a great vision there will be a premium on thinking strategically and on being able to come back from setbacks, and maybe above all, on being very good at reading the increasingly ambiguous and uncertain universe we operate in.”
HARVARD TEACHES YOU HOW TO LAUNCH A STARTUP…IN A DEVELOPING NATION
March boasts an eclectic mix of courses that is sure to please the right and left brained alike. Notably, students looking to beef up their strategic brawn have a partner in the University of Virginia, which boasts three courses in this area: Strategic Planning and Execution, Foundations of Business Strategy, and Design Thinking for Business Innovation. To deepen their interpersonal skills, prospective managers can also take the University of Michigan’s Influencing People. In addition, Michigan returns with another section of the popular Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills.
For quants, Wharton is offering MOOCs in Operations Analytics and Accounting Analytics, with MIT following suit in Supply Chain Analytics. Finance is also heavily represented, headlined by Duke’s Behavioral Finance and Wharton’s Modeling Risk and Realities.
Let’s not forget entrepreneurs. Imagine yourself launching a business in a developing country? Wondering what is different about the startup model and requirements there? Check out Harvard Business School’s Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies. If you’re hesitant to fork over a percentage of your fledgling startup for cash flow, you won’t want to miss the London Business School’s How to Finance and Grow Your Startup – Without VC.
To learn more about these courses — and many more — click on the links below.