MBA Class of 2015 Inaugurates New Leadership Course

“Johnson Team Leadership Experience” takes students from classroom, to case competition, to ropes course

MBA Class of 2015 Inaugurates New Leadership Course

The Johnson Class of 2015 headed into the core MBA curriculum today, after an intensive week of leadership training in the school’s revamped pre-term course: “Johnson Team Leadership Experience (NBA 5700).” The week kicked off with four days of instruction, and culminated with a leadership case competition and J.O.E. (the Johnson Outdoor Experience).

“The goal of the course is to provide students with training and experience in leading and contributing to high-performing teams and to lay the foundation for students’ personal leadership development over the next two years,” said Jerry Rizzo, director, Johnson Leadership Programs. “The idea is to equip students to perform well as core curriculum team members and deliverable leaders.”

Last week’s course was team taught by Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Jim Detert, Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations Allan Filipowicz, Johnson Leadership Programs Fellow Sean Martin, and Senior Lecturer of Management Risa Mish. In addition to instruction on developing core team norms, expectations, and team contracts, students were organized into groups of 70 for smaller sessions on Critical Thinking (Mish), Difficult Conversations (Filipowicz), Leadership Personality and Style (Detert), and Moral Reasoning (Martin).

Leadership Case Competition Winners

"It is a great privilege to teach Johnson students at the outset of their MBA experience and to see how enthusiastic and engaged they are in the process of collaborative problem solving,” said Mish. “In the cases we've tackled together this week, they have been willing to identify, examine, and question assumptions—a skill that goes to the heart of critically thoughtful leadership.”  

During the initial phase of the course, students were introduced to the Johnson 4Cs Leadership Framework, which was developed over the past year by Rizzo and members of the Managing and Leading Organizations faculty.

The Johnson 4Cs Framework is organized around the principles of competence, character, compassion, and courage. Under each “C” there are a series of questions that are meant to guide students’ personal reflection on their leadership efforts.

The week also included a leadership panel of five recent Johnson alumni, who shared how leadership has shaped the early years of their post-MBA careers, and a keynote speech by Johnson alumnus Peter Nolan, managing partner at Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

The capstone of the week was the first-ever 5700 Johnson Leadership Case Competition, on Thursday, August 15. The 70 student teams received the case the night before the competition, and presented the following day. Mark Milstein, clinical professor of management and director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, wrote the case in partnership with Johnson Leadership Programs. Finalist teams stood before 300 people and responded to tough questions from a mock company board for 15 minutes, illustrating “just how much competence, character, and courage this class has,” said co-instructor Jim Detert

“The goals of the case competition were to allow students to put into practice what they had just learned about leadership, and to do so in a way that helped them experience, rather than just imagine, what working with their new teams on a very challenging assignment would be like,” explained Detert. “Student teams worked on an incredibly difficult challenge—addressing global affordable housing needs—on a very short timeline, and nonetheless produced some very creative ideas and compelling presentations.

First place honors, as well as dinner and wine tasting at the home of Dean Soumitra Dutta and his wife Lourdes Casanova, senior lecturer of management, went to Team #16: Nicholas Baker, Brennan Duty, Hyunsu Nam, Brent Stephens, and Shannon Terry. The other finalist teams were Team #42:  Humberto Cruz, Linda Duong, Sunil Gupta, Patrick Mulrenan, and Sameer Munshi; and Team #50:  Pascal Christian, Dennen Mccloskey, Harun Olcay, Jennette Saltsman, Beatina Theopold, and Margaret Wu.

Students finished out the week at J.O.E. (Johnson Outdoor Experience), a retreat in the beautiful Finger Lakes region that has become a longstanding Johnson tradition. J.O.E. features hands-on leadership training, team-building challenges, and ample opportunities for the group to come together as a community, before the core curriculum commences.


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