Leadership Coursework


Johnson Team Leadership Experience (required)
  • This course is designed to provide you with training and experience in leading and contributing to high-performing teams that: (1) set clear goals and objectives; (2) develop, implement, and enforce appropriate internal team norms; (3) effectively collaborate, taking maximum advantage of diverse strengths and backgrounds; (4) produce well-reasoned analyses of complex business problems; and, (5) provide team members with appropriate constructive feedback from which further growth and development can occur.

Managing and Leading Organizations (required)
  • Once the strategy is in place, leaders and managers must make decisions and take action to execute effectively. This is the focus of MLO. Decisions about whom to hire, creating a culture that supports the strategy, motivating the right behaviors, and determining what systems—reporting structures, incentive schemes—produce the best outcomes for the firm are at the core of MLO. Without appropriate management and leadership, even the best strategy cannot produce results. Based on this, the course is divided into two modules. The first focuses on what firms need to do to best execute their chosen strategy. Relying on frameworks and theories, we work to identify common problems that plague firms as they try to execute their strategies. Once identified, we review correctives for these problems—how to change a firm’s culture to deliver more innovation, how to motivate employees cheaply but effectively, for instance. The second module considers the skills that managers and leaders need to accomplish their firms’ strategic goals. Great solutions do not appear out of the ether; great ideas do not sell themselves; resources do not fall into laps. It takes skill to identify, sell, and implement ideas. We identify the skills you will need to do this, and we will work to develop them.

Becoming a Leader
  • This course explores the complex process of "becoming a leader" by systematically uncovering beliefs and myths about leadership and rigorously examining how they hold up to the scrutiny of critical thinking, analysis, and research. Each class will address a number of important questions about leadership. We will generally use case studies and videos to first illustrate a topic by focusing on a specific leader and decision or dilemma faced by that leader. We will then abstract from the specific to the general by discussing the principles and research findings pertaining to that aspect of leadership. Students should also develop a significantly enhanced understanding of their own leadership strengths and objectives because the course requires personalization of concepts via a number of self-reflections and exercises.

Business Ethics
  • Poor moral judgment can ruin a manager's career. It can even sink an entire company. Accordingly, in today's volatile and fiercely competitive business environment, a manager must possess not only technical and communication skills. He or she must also be able to identify and effectively resolve ethical issues that inevitably arise in the pursuit of business (and career) objectives. That is, a manager must be able to make business decisions that are defensible ethically as well as economically. This course is designed to enhance students' skills in moral reasoning as it applies to managerial decision-making. After examining normative concepts and principles that typically enter into moral reasoning, we will focus on using those concepts and principles in analyzing cases. In our discussions, we will seek to understand the moral issues confronting the decision-makers in the cases and explore how those issues might be addressed in ethically responsible ways.

Critical Thinking for Business Leaders 

  • Succeeding in any business leadership role requires you to think critically, and make quality decisions with and on behalf of organizational stakeholders, even in the face of challenges such as imperfect/incomplete information, changing and unforeseen circumstances, and, of course, human nature in all of its complexity and unpredictability. Major content themes focus on constructing a persuasive argument and deconstructing arguments made by others; recognizing and avoiding reasoning flaws and the forces that make us most susceptible to such flaws; approaching business problems systematically and thoroughly; and producing a problem solution that is well-reasoned, likely to be well-received by ultimate decision makers, and able to be implemented with success. 

Cross-Cultural Management
  • There are no simple recipes for success as a global manager. This course takes a multi-faceted approach to help students develop their global management skills. An effective global manager should have: 1) an accurate understanding of his or her own strengths and weaknesses as a manager; (2) a good sense of cultural differences, and where they are likely to emerge (he or she also uses presumed cultural differences as a starting point for understanding—and avoids stereotypes; (3) a set of interpersonal and group management tools, including skills in communication, conflict management, team-work, power and influence, and negotiation, as well as practice using those skills in a global context; and, (4) a savvy understanding of important issues in cross-cultural management. This course covers some of the most prominent: dealing with cross-border merger and alliance, balancing dual identities in cross-cultural settings, understanding obstacles of transferring practices from one culture to another, and managing one's own international career.

International Negotiations

  • This course focuses on negotiation in the global business setting. It will cover the negotiation concepts dealt with in NBA 6660 (Negotiations) and NBA 6820 (Negotiation Essentials). In addition, it will investigate issues that can be particularly troublesome in the global setting, including: currency, venue for dispute resolution, and ethics that are unique to the international arena; parties at the cross-cultural negotiation table; and how culture affects negotiators’ interests and priorities and strategies. The capstone exercise is a real-time email negotiation with students in Beijing, China.

  • Negotiation is the art and science of securing agreements between two or more interdependent parties. The purpose of this course is to understand the theory and processes of negotiation as it is practiced in a variety of settings. This course is designed to complement the technical and diagnostic skills you have learned in other courses at the Johnson School. A basic premise of the course is that while a manager needs analytical skills in order to develop optimal solutions, a broad array of negotiation skills is needed for these solutions to be accepted and implemented. The course is designed to help you approach negotiations with confidence. You have the opportunity to develop your negotiating skills experientially and to gain insight into what works, what does not, and why. 

Power and Politics in Organizations

  • Nothing is more frustrating than having a great idea and not having the political capital to get it recognized and implemented. This course is aimed at providing you with the political intelligence to succeed in an organization. This course aims to 1) improve your ability to diagnose the underlying distribution of power in organizations, 2) allow you to practice strategies for building your own personal power, and 3) show you how to be fluent in multiple techniques for influencing others. 

Strategic Change and Renewal
  • One of the most vexing challenges organizations face is that of successfully undertaking strategic changes. In this course, we start by discussing how managers determine where they want the organization to go. We then examine external and internal drivers of change and cases of successful and unsuccessful change efforts. 

Women in Leadership 
  • What are the facts about the current state of women as leaders? What special challenges face women as they transition from students to managers to leaders? What do the latest research findings offer to women who are seeking C-level positions and the organizations that want to benefit from more women leaders? In this course, we will take a multi-pronged approach to learning about women and leadership to better prepare students of both genders to lead in organizations that are now comprised of nearly 50% women. To do this we will analyze case studies of women leaders pulled from a range of industries. We will review the current state of empirical evidence about the status of women as leaders, investigate the barriers that have made it more difficult for women to reach the top of the business world, and consider ways in which individuals and organizations can overcome them. Guest speakers will share their experiences with the class. Finally, there will be time to engage in deep reflection about what students expect from their careers, as well as a chance to consider the pathways they must take to become effective and inclusive leaders in increasingly diverse organizations.
Fred Staudmyer ’77, MBA ’79

Coursework in leadership is as valuable as any discipline one can take at Johnson. In virtually every career track that recent MBAs embark upon, their ultimate level of achievement has to do with their ability to be successful leaders.

– Fred Staudmyer ’77, MBA ’79
Director, Career Management Center