When Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made,” he could have had the Tepper School in mind. As part of the new MBA curriculum’s Accelerate Leadership Program, students recently participated in the inaugural Leadership Immersion Workshops.
Uniquely experiential, interactive three-day events, the workshops are one of three components of the Accelerate Leadership Program, dedicated to developing effective, applied leadership skills.
“The program as whole is very much focused on a behavioral approach to leadership,” explained Laurie Weingart, director of the Accelerate Leadership Center and Carnegie Bosch Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory.
“The first section, assessment, focuses on the individual as a leader of people, while these workshops address the individual as a leader of teams, particularly in intercultural settings. The focal point is to provide a set of tools that leaders can use to help their teams accomplish their goals.”
The program was developed in cooperation with, and conducted by, Tepper’s longstanding collaborator, the Carnegie Bosch Institute, an organization within the Tepper school that provides international executive education. Also collaborating with Carnegie Bosch was Coverdale, an international executive coaching firm.
Carnegie Bosch’s involvement offers Tepper students a unique advantage, notes Sylvia Vogt, president of the Carnegie Bosch Institute and Tepper adjunct professor of management. Not only is the workshop developed using the institute’s approach to working executives but also from the organization’s real-world, applied industry perspective.
Two workshops were held, each with cohorts of 100 students. These larger groups were broken into three smaller subsections for more effective class time and then further subdivided into working teams of seven to eight students. Teams were assigned to reflect diversity of both nationality and gender, providing a breadth of viewpoint as students tackled their projects.
“I often describe the method we use as rapid prototyping,” said Vogt, referring to an iterative design process of development and evaluation cycling.
“The students tackle team projects together, trying out their teamwork and leadership skills. They then review what they did, provide each other feedback and make improvements for the next time around. Then it’s back to the classroom for more input and another team project. Like rapid prototyping, they go through several cycles, constantly working to improve.”
Clearly, the students felt the commitment of the Tepper school, with other students, staff, and faculty volunteering their time to train and serve as interactive ‘guides’ throughout the workshop process. Student reaction included one participant who expressed pleased surprise over a new recognition of Tepper’s diversity, as well as how that diversity brought out the best in every team member. Another commented on a new understanding that one style of leadership wasn’t enough to apply in all situations; that varied skills were necessary.
“A great aspect of this workshop is it gives people the ability to step out of their comfort zone and allows them to try out different leadership techniques in a low risk environment,” noted Ryan Sutton, MBA’14. “It is much easier to test your personal limits in this atmosphere than in an actual internship or job.”
Sutton, now headed toward consulting, came to Tepper after eight years as a structural engineer, looking to enhance his skills and change career focus. Having identified his personal areas for leadership improvement during an earlier phase of the program, he entered the workshop experience with a clear purpose.
“I came out of the workshop extremely pleased with the progress I made in these areas and plan to utilize my new skills in my upcoming project work and internship,” he said. “I learned a lot about working within intercultural teams, team building, being a manager, and being a subordinate that I want to take advantage of during employment.
“I plan to work with the Accelerate Center,” Sutton added, “and will continue to evaluate my progress to ensure I am translating the knowledge I gained in the workshop into my real world experiences.”
Accelerate Leadership Center
Carnegie Bosch Institute