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The Chicago Booth MBA experience begins with LEAD, a hands-on, practical course designed to improve self-awareness and interpersonal effectiveness by providing students with an opportunity to benchmark themselves with respect to critical aspects of leadership: working in teams, influencing others, managing conflict, communicating and presenting. Beyond LEAD, students can choose to further their leadership development with additional courses highlighted here.

The principal goal of this course is learning how to guide your own development and to make personal change. This ability is a form of self-leadership and is one of the foundations of a rewarding career and a meaningful life.

The benefits of this class are twofold. The first benefit is that students will define and make progress on a personal development goal of their own choosing. Most of us harbor a list of things we would like to work on and change about ourselves. We often carry these desires for years without making much progress. This class creates a space in which you can finally realize your desires for growth and change. 

The second benefit is that students will learn a set of ideas and tactics for guiding their development in the future. As students work on their own development goal, they will apply approaches introduced in class. These approaches are designed to help students make progress on their current development goals; and, these same approaches are portable so that students can also apply them to future development goals, long after the course is over. 

It is important to note that Leadership Lab requires a deeper level of engagement than many classes. Broadly speaking, the focus of the course concerns human development and it introduces a valuable set of ideas on this topic. Yet, the heart of the class concerns the ways in which you apply these ideas to yourself. The class consists of activities, assignments, and interactions that involve analyzing your desires for yourself, better understanding what others need from you, learning to work with your own thoughts and emotions, generating meaningful goals for yourself, on-going effort to make desired changes, and supporting your fellow classmates as they engage in the same kind of work. The personal nature of the work we do in this class relies on a willingness to try difficult things, to be vulnerable, and to take responsibility for your own development.

Leadership Lab »

Leadership Capital is a new approach to leadership development, defined as “the wisdom to decide when to manage and when to lead, together with the courage and capacity to act on your choices.” This course builds on conceptual knowledge from the discipline of experimental social psychology, supplemented with the domain knowledge and experience you gain outside the classroom. You will use this knowledge to practice and develop your action and insight skills. This course will provide opportunities to reflect, draft, and test frameworks for managing and leading, allowing you to learn from the data of your experience.

This course is meant to serve as a point of departure. Your primary task as a student of leadership is to develop your own perspective on themes of leadership that matter most to you. You will also learn to appreciate how that point of view evolves with experience and increased self-understanding. One of the bigger lessons from this class may be your ability to have an impact by putting social psychology into practice. You will learn about the power of strong situations on people and this will allow you to make better choices for you and for others. The goal of the course is to provide this framework in class, and leave you with tools you can use to put leadership capital to work in your own life for many years to come.

Successfully managing other people – be they competitors or co-workers – requires an understanding of their thoughts, feelings, attitudes, motivations, and determinants of behavior. Developing an accurate understanding of these factors, however, can be difficult to achieve because intuitions are often misguided and unstructured experience can be a poor teacher. This course is intended to address this development by providing the scientific knowledge of human thought and behavior that is critical for successfully managing others, and also for successfully managing ourselves.

Using a combination of lectures, discussions, and group activities, the course offers an introduction to theory and research in the behavioral sciences. Its primary goal is to develop conceptual frameworks that help students to understand and manage effectively their own complicated work settings.

The course is organized into two main sections: (1) the individual, and (2) the organization. The first half of the course is concerned with issues related to individual behavior, such as how people form impressions of others and attribute causes of behavior, how prior beliefs including stereotypes shape perceptions, what motivates individuals, and what factors foster and inhibit creativity and problem-solving. The second half of the course turns to people’s behavior in the context of a larger enterprise. It addresses how organizations can successfully coordinate the actions of their members. Topics in this section include effective group decision-making, persuading others, and building an effective organizational culture.

The aim of this course is to use insights from behavioral science to promote organizational health as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many organizations that are interested in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t know how to achieve their goals. Thus, the course will not only focus on the question of why (Why should we care about diversity, equity, and inclusion?), but primarily on the question of how (How can we promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? How can we leverage differences effectively?).

We will identify why work environments often aren’t equitable – why is it more complicated for certain employees, such as women and racial minorities, to succeed in organizations? We will consider person-centered sources of bias, such as implicit and explicit stereotypes, as well as more systemic/ institutional sources of bias. By diagnosing sources of inequity, we can identify strategies that might help reduce the inequity (of course, no single change can undo all sources of bias).

We will focus our attention on strategies that use behavioral design or “nudges,” which are often more powerful than tactics that raise awareness and less costly and onerous than quotas and rules. Moreover, we will think about using behavioral design for creating equal access at the “gateways” to an organization (things like getting hired for a job and getting admitted to a school) as well as ensuring equal opportunities for success along its “pathways” (things like getting heard, getting credit, and getting second chances).

We will also consider barriers to diversity efforts that must be overcome. For example, an organization cannot learn and improve without being willing to acknowledge that current practices may be problematic and being willing to experiment with something new. Indeed, even with a good idea, implementing it effectively requires buy-in, ally-ship, and rigorous evaluation.

All are welcome. I hope to encourage learning and dialogue among students with a variety of social identities and backgrounds and expect to hear different views on how firms can and should address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although the class will foreground race and gender dynamics in the U.S. context, we will also consider other dimensions of difference (e.g., class background, nationality, LGBTQ identity, religion, disability, and more) and reflect on these topics in other countries and cultural contexts. It is vitally important for MBA students, who will become the leaders of domestic and global companies, to be informed about how to create the conditions that enable all people to achieve success. Students who take this course will be able to utilize the skills and knowledge taught when making their own career decisions, as well as when managing, being managed by, or collaborating with others of diverse backgrounds.

Every effective manager needs to know how to wisely manage power and influence. Skill in doing so enables managers to win the cooperation of others, to elicit the most value from diverse organizational resources, and to consistently achieve goals.

In this class, you will be introduced to conceptual models, tactical approaches, and self-assessment tools that can help you to manage workplace power dynamics more wisely and skillfully. You will learn about several different methods of influence, and start the process of understanding and shaping your own influence style. You will also explore specific, real-world examples to understand how power and influence might be effectively and ineffectively used at different stages of a person’s career. As the nature of our focal topics will raise difficult ethical questions, the course will also challenge you to examine and define your views on what will constitute the ethical exercise of power and influence in your work life.

Readings in this class are extensive. Preparing thoroughly for class discussions and exercises with these weekly readings is essential for getting the most value from the class.

Whatever the endeavor — business, nonprofit, government, the arts, the military — people are organized formally and informally. Formally, people report to someone, a boss, and supervise some number of others. We derive much of our identity from our title and position in the formal organization. But the bulk of what we get done is through the informal organization. The informal organization is composed of colleagues, friends, and strangers with whom we cajole, entreat, pressure, and generally collaborate to get things done. Formal is the skeleton. Informal is the flesh. Together they to define the social network around you.

This course is an introduction to the ways certain people and groups have a competitive advantage because of their social network. The advantage stems from the way one engages the diversity of information in organizations and markets. Half the puzzle is production: Certain people have an advantage in recombining information to produce and promulgate good ideas. The other half of the puzzle is governance: Certain people have an advantage in being accepted as a source of proposals. This course is about how the two network mechanisms operate, and ways to enhance and maintain individual and group advantage.

Consulting Lab (formerly Strategy Lab) is an experiential lab course designed to give students the experience of engaging with real clients on strategic issues as management consultants. Professor Harry L. Davis designed the course with Joe Raudabaugh, MBA ’80, an emeritus partner at A.T. Kearney who became interested in experiential education as a student in one of Prof. Davis’ original New Product Laboratory courses. Projects are sourced from real clients by A.T. Kearney consultants, who also serve as coaches for student teams.

Students have two objectives in this course: to (1) address the complex, strategic business problems brought by clients and develop actionable, data-driven recommendations and (2) to develop their own interpersonal and leadership skills in the context of a flat team. Several teams will be created from up to 42 students. Each project will center on an important strategic challenge and require students to apply a broad set of concepts and tools. A.T. Kearney will coordinate client participation, supplement faculty with consulting resources to coach and support the student teams, and provide collaboration technologies to enable the teams and clients to work virtually. Previous clients have included 3M, Campbell Soup, Georgia Pacific, Nike, Walgreens, Feeding America, Siemens Energy, Emerson, IDEX, Avendra, Innerworkings, Valkre, Accretive Health, Beam Suntory, Facebook, and Walmart.

Persuasion is what moves companies, industries, markets, non-profits and governments. Whether you’re selling a product, pitching a startup, soliciting donations, trying to shape public policy, or revolutionizing an industry, the ability to persuade others is critical. “Command and control” is usually an illusion. If you want to effect change, you need to overcome skepticism and opposition in order to win minds and alter actions. Everyone’s influence—from the CEO to an intern—is determined by how good they are at getting ideas across and persuading others. Conversely, the most logical, sensible, and rational ideas can fail because they’re expressed poorly and unconvincingly.

This course is a highly practical guide to expressing your ideas more persuasively. We’ll take simple techniques for improving and sharpening our arguments, and practice delivering them in a compelling way. In week one, we’ll look at why we need to persuade, the strategy of deciding whom to persuade, and analyze some of the barriers to persuasion. Weeks two and three will focus on how to structure your communication. In week four, we’ll turn to the characteristics of great communication, the process involved in crafting your arguments, and how to build a persuasive presence. In the final session, we’ll talk about how to apply what we’ve learned to the challenges we face as we build our careers.

Narrative frameworks are the most powerful tools of effective persuasion, and the best way to improve your ability to deploy them in different settings is to practice and learn from constructive criticism. This is a companion course to “Persuasion: Effective Business Communication” (course number 38101), and completing 38101 is a strict pre-requisite. We’ll enrich the basic narrative structure we learned in 38101 by looking at how behavioral biases play into persuasion, by examining how to make technical and complex ideas straightforward without dumbing them down, and by practicing presenting and persuading in many different contexts.

Like Persuasion I, this is a highly practical course that aims to make effective narrative persuasion a habit that you will be able to use in a broad variety of situations. There will be more complex video and live presentation exercises, real-life cases of persuasion in a corporate context, and a chance to work in detail on a personal persuasion scenario from your professional life.

We’ll spend more time critiquing each other’s work, which should improve your ability to persuade, to analyze others’ communication, as well as to handle and learn from criticism. You should emerge a better writer and presenter, comfortable communicating your narrative whatever the medium.

This course aims to help students excel in one of the business world's most important competencies: the ability to construct and to deliver a powerful, influential narrative.

What differentiates those who are more successful interacting with bosses and colleagues inside an organization? How do managers create trust and change the attitudes and behaviors of their teams? What differentiates the entrepreneurs who succeed in raising money from those who fail? Why are some companies more successful in attracting and retaining both employees and customers? How do companies that are yet to turn a profit command the value of billions of dollars? What is the basis for effective lobbying and rule-shaping?

Whether interviewing for a job, advancing in your career, leading organizations, motivating people, creating strong brands, building and sustaining reputations, or working effectively with politicians, regulators, and the media – successful managers, entrepreneurs, and companies share a few common, potent skills: they appreciate the importance of stories, they develop and maintain coherent strategic narratives – and they know how to tell them.

In this course we will study the critical role of stories in driving success in many real-life situations. We will gain an understanding of how our reality is comprised of stories, we will establish a critical perspective on stories in the arenas of business, economics and politics, and we will study the characteristics of successful stories and storytellers. All the while, we will practice and hone the telling of our own powerful, personal stories.

This course will feature two to three guest lectures of leading figures from the industry. Students enrolled in this class will have the opportunity to learn and engage with guest lecturers who hold, or have held, prominent roles in large corporations where they effectively employed their unique storytelling skills.

Order of topics in class are subject to change, according to guest lecture.

This course is a complement to Leadership Capital. We take the approach that leadership development is an ongoing process of self-discovery. The content is based on insights from the core discipline of social psychology.  Students use the data of their own experience as input together with a series of written assignments, in-class activities, discussions and peer coaching. Students will be assigned to work in a movie team. Your team is tasked with choosing a movie with leadership themes, creating a leadership activity for your classmates and facilitating a debrief/discussion. The leadership themes that you select should be informed by relevant concepts and capture the “gist” of the most important lessons that you will teach your classmates from your movie selection. The course enables students to engage in written reflection and together with collective wisdom, helps students to assess how they want to skillfully apply these lessons to their own leadership practice.