Leadership Learning at Wharton

Posted By SWatts on Dec 8, 2013 |

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Leadership Learning at Wharton

One of the founding components of the Wharton experience is leadership learning and the belief that the practice and perfection of leading can be taught through persuasion, negotiation, collaboration and teamwork. Both Wharton MBA and executive MBA programs put this belief into practice through the course Foundations of Leaderships and Teamwork, the application of learning teams, field study, international study, and the option for independent study. Along this curriculum, the Wharton concept of leadership persists that leadership can be taught through the integration of three practices: academic learning and becoming a student of leadership; establishing important coaching and mentoring relationships for upward movement; and searching for and undertaking high-gain experiences.

The required leadership course, Foundations of Leaderships and Teamwork, puts students into the category of students of leadership and allows each to learn about the different venues of leadership. In turn, students are able to discover one’s own leadership preferences and abilities. The course integrates class discussions, case studies, and the foundation of interactive learning  to collaborate with and compel one’s peers into forming each’s own style.

The learning team model, original to Wharton, binds classmates together to work toward common goals and become exposed to leadership styles in real-time settings. Each learning team undergoes a workshop to evaluate and improve effectiveness, as well as coaching and mentoring sessions on how to take advantage of the diverse strengths of each team member and how to handle difficult relationships within the group dynamic. Within the learning group, each team works together in the Field Application Project (FAP) to apply solutions to a real-world problem being faced by one team member. Together, the team works to figure out solutions to the problems as the learning team acts as a consultancy group, shaping the issue, identifying key conflicts, and proposing viable solutions and tools to implement solutions. FAP not only builds camaraderie among teams, but also a strong foundation to human resource management.

Michael Useem, one of the world’s thought leaders on change management and leadership, leads the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. This center facilitates leadership ventures open to Wharton students — ventures that foster a different kind of leadership ­– one that is hands-on, interactive, and challenges one physically as well as mentally. Treks go to Africa, Asia and South America for mountaineering adventures and faux military operations, as well as Antarctica for a pioneering trek. Each trek builds personal awareness and character, as well as strategic thinking and precise decision-making.