Two Year MBA Leadership Coursework

Leading Teams (Required)

The goal of managers and leaders is to get things done in organizations, and most of that work is accomplished by effectively managing other people. This course applies cutting-edge behavioral science findings to develop students’ managerial and leadership capabilities. The course is designed to provide students with concepts and competencies to help them throughout their managerial careers. The Leading Teams course will work in conjunction with Core Team Practicum (NBA 5700) and Critical and Strategic Thinking (NCC 5050) to develop your leadership skills on multiple levels. Overall the course has two goals: To make each student a more effective leader and to successfully launch students’ Johnson careers.

Core Team Practicum (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.

Critical and Strategic Thinking (Required)

This course is based on the proposition that leading well requires thinking well. Succeeding in any business leadership role requires thinking critically, and making quality decisions, even in the face of challenges such as imperfect/incomplete information, changing and unforeseen circumstances, and human nature in all of its complexity and unpredictability. Major content themes of this course 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 (a) well-reasoned; (b) likely to be well-received by ultimate decision makers; and (c) able to be implemented successfully. Students will be introduced to, and then practice using, frameworks that they can apply to any leadership challenge or opportunity – regardless of company or job function – in order to solve problems and communicate proposed solutions effectively.

Advanced Critical Thinking for Business Leaders

Building upon the foundational critical and strategic concepts introduced in NCC 5050 (Core Critical and Strategic Thinking), this course will: (a) deepen your understanding of frameworks that aid in strategic analysis of organizational problems; (b) explore additional concepts and skills that promote critically thoughtful analysis of complex dilemmas (e.g., stakeholder analysis, brainstorming techniques, risk rating and monitoring); and (c) give you opportunities to practice persuasively communicating to key decision-makers your proposed solution to the complex organizational problems you have thoughtfully analyzed.

The Art of Innovation: A Design Thinking Immersion

This hands-on course will prepare you to be future innovators by teaching you the human-centered design methodology known as “Design Thinking” that was made famous by David Kelley, founder of IDEO, and the Stanford Students will work on a challenge provided by a real sponsor, and will be put into cross-disciplinary teams where they will be immersed in the entire design thinking cycle: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

Core Leadership Skills for a VUCA World

Core Leadership Skills for a VUCA World is designed to provide students with an opportunity to expand their knowledge and understanding of the key leadership skills required for success in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business world. It will build on the skills discussed in NCC 5040 Leading Teams and NCC 5040 Managing and Leading Organizations, through discussion and interaction with an experienced practitioner and former leader of the United States Army. The course will be comprised of four modules: 1) Leadership Principles for a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous World; 2) Developing and Communicating Vision and Strategy; 3) Setting Conditions for Success; and, 4) Character and Leadership.

Crisis Communications for Business Leaders

Business leaders today constantly face crises that threaten their company’s reputation. Such defining moments require effective crisis communication to mitigate negative effects, build trust with the organization’s internal and external audiences and navigate through the crisis gracefully and effectively towards resolution. In this course you will learn to anticipate and appreciate the complexities and challenges of brand reputation management during a crisis and develop strategies and techniques to communicate with various constituencies, especially the media/public, employees and major stakeholders. You will apply principles of effective crisis communication management through a simulation, and will develop message maps for emergency and other crisis scenarios. Course work includes readings, case analyses, and simulations.

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.

Ethical Decision Making in Management

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.

Ethics and Corporate Culture

In the high-pressure worlds of business and law, all too often good people do bad things. In many cases, the unethical behavior is due in part to a “toxic” corporate culture. The attitudes, values, and practices that prevail in their organizations induce otherwise ethical employees to take actions that violate widely shared norms of conduct. Such behavior can be costly – even disastrous – leading to ruined careers, tarnished corporate reputations, and legal liability for the individuals and their companies. In an environment where “only results matter,” it can be difficult for a new MBA or law school graduate to recognize the risks. If she does see the dangers, she may still find it hard to avoid them. This course seeks, first, to help MBA and law students understand how a firm’s culture can tempt – or push – employees into unethical behavior. Second, the course aims to acquaint students with strategies for dealing with ethical challenges posed by a problematic corporate culture. Class sessions include discussion of case studies and articles reporting on relevant research in organizational behavior, as well as talks by noted guest speakers from the fields of business and law. Since managers and attorneys frequently work together, team projects require collaboration among MBAs and law students, as they bring both business and legal perspectives to bear on tough ethical issues. Course grades are based on class participation and several short writing assignments (individual and group).

Interpersonal Communications

Examines a range of interpersonal communication strategies and skills required of successful managers in the workplace. [The course explores critical channels of communication distinctly different from formal management presentations and written business documents.] Topics include intercultural communication, listening skills, leading successful meetings, contributing effectively to meeting conversations, providing effective feedback (constructive criticism and crediting), accepting criticism in the work place, discussion skills, and persuading in dyads and small groups.

Johnson Leadership Fellows

This course teaches leadership and coaching skills to Johnson Leadership Fellows, who are chosen from the second-year MBA class to coach first-year students’ Core Teams. As a part of this practicum immersion, students inventory their leadership values, strengths, and challenges; develop an advanced personal leadership development plan; build skills for team coaching and conflict resolution; and regularly apply coaching and conflict resolution skills to their mentoring of first-year Core Teams.

Management Presentations

This course covers the areas of speaking formats, delivery, organization, visual aids, and question/answer. Student speeches constitute the bulk of class time, with each student presenting seven or eight speeches in the seven-week session. The small class size allows for significant individual attention. Students receive feedback from classmates and the instructor, and have the opportunity to review in tutorials the videotapes of most of their presentations.

Managerial Decision Making

This course attempts to make its participants better managerial decision makers. However, most students find that the course applies equally well to their personal decisions. There are two other objectives. The first is to convey an enduring understanding of decision concepts, skills, and tools that, taken as a whole, comprise a troubleshooter’s guide to dealing with the uncertainty, complexity, and conflict of the professional world. The second is to provide a framework for a good decision process in which all of the decision concepts, skills, and tools fit coherently. The pedagogical approach uses lectures, in-class exercises, and applications.

Negotiations 1: Negotiation Essentials

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.

Negotiations 2: Advanced Negotiation for Global Leaders

The purpose of this course is to further the skills and knowledge you have acquired from Negotiations 1: Negotiation Essentials. The course is designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of complex and dynamic negotiations in today’s globally diverse business environment. In particular, you will be introduced to theories and processes of negotiation between people with very different assumptions and mindsets, such as negotiation between heads of offices in different national locations in the same organization, business executives working with their legal counsels to get a deal done, or managers working with their cross-border alliance partners. The course is designed to enhance the awareness of your assumptions and beliefs, and their impact on your dealing with different others. In addition, the course is designed to help students approach complex and often emotionally charged negotiations with confidence and resilience. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills and mindsets important to such negotiations experientially and 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.

Topics in Leadership: Women in the Workplace

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.