Sunday, September 19, 2010

Leadership at Booth

At the end of the last blog entry, I briefly mentioned Booth’s Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) program. Coming from a military background, I am no stranger to programs focused on leadership training, but as the program at Booth was easily one of the best and most enjoyable ones I have participated in, I want to talk a little bit more about it.

In the fall quarter of your first year at Booth, all students are required to take LEAD. Starting approximately three weeks before the academic school year starts, Booth kicks off the program by sending the incoming class to the Abbey Resort at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a three-day LEAD Outdoor Experience (LOE). It is here that you first meet your cohort of approximately 50 fellow students and start to learn more about yourself and classmates.

As I was heading to Lake Geneva almost one year ago today, I was excited to get to know my fellow 550+ classmates and eager to see what Booth had planned. Almost immediately I was impressed with the program. The outdoor experience combined team building exercises, leadership challenges and socializing events that made for an incredibly intense but also very enjoyable experience. While I definitely got to know my new classmates much better through socializing events and night time get-togethers, I also had my first real introduction to Booth’s philosophy of “challenge everything.” At LOE, I was made more aware of my personal leadership style and could consequently change how I approached situations. I also was able to push myself personally though some of the exciting activities they had lined up like, high ropes courses, confidence courses, and problem solving challenges.

Despite being only three days, it is hard to describe all that there is to LOE, so I wanted to leverage the old adage“a picture is worth 1,000 words” and attach a link to pictures from last year’s LOE event.

Following LOE, the LEAD program continued to build off of the foundation that was built at Lake Geneva. Through a class that met twice a week during the first quarter, we were led through a program dedicated to helping every student become the most successful leader we could be. Although there are many useful things that are covered, I wanted to briefly touch upon three that I found especially helpful. First, each student had the opportunity to better understand their own personal leadership style through several personality assessments and activities. While I found this beneficial, LEAD made it truly impactful by going on to explain each of the different styles and the most effective methods for dealing with each different personality type… something that will unquestionably become even more critical as we progress through our careers.

As many students used business school as either a turning point to change career fields or an opportunity to reassess their satisfaction with their current career path, LEAD incorporated an entire module in which we were led though several exercises helping us understand our own personal needs and ambitions. I found it was easy to get caught up in the glamour or hype of certain careers and this module helped me ensure my personal needs were aligned with what Ithought I wanted to pursue. Speaking from personal experience, this module helped me determine that consulting was the career path in which I wanted to pursue (I was originally not considering consulting).

The final aspect I want to touch upon in this blog is the communication training offered though LEAD. Booth realizes that being a great leader requires the ability to both effectively listen to others and, when appropriate, convey and sell your thoughts to others. LEAD provided several modules that touched upon both of these subjects. Though exercises, video recordings, and several classroom discussions, we were all made more aware of how well we were listening to others, incorporating team members into discussions, and communicating our messages. For me personally, this was probably the most uncomfortable module. I wasn’t a fan of seeing myself in a recording and was shocked to see some of the habits I had while in groups. Although it was a little uncomfortable for me, there is no question that these modules made me a better team player, leader, and communicator - a sentiment I have heard repeated from many other classmates.

As you are reading these blogs one theme should be very evident: Booth cares about their people and has the programs and support (both self guided and facilitated) to help us become the leaders we aspire to be. LEAD is certainly one example of this but in the following months, I hope you continue to follow this blog so I can share many more with you.

As one side note, I have talked a lot about the network you build while at Booth, a few days ago I finished climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with two fellow Booth students (one of which I met during my “random walk”) so I wanted to share the picture (if you would like to connect a face to the blog, I am the one on the left).

Finally, I just realized some people are posting comments…. By all means, please do and I will try to respond to them in each future blog posting. Until next time, I hope everyone is having a great summer and getting through their MBA applications.



  1. Thanks a lot for describing the LEAD program through the lens of someone who's actually experienced it. It's one thing to read a description of what a program is designed to do, quite another to read what people experience. It sounds like the program is really doing a great job. Thanks again.

  2. Hey Todd, thanks for a real insightful post. Personally i am very impressed by DSAC's intiative. I was just curious to know if you could elaborate (i know post is already quite big n informative!) a bit on LEAD / LOE role in understanding leadership style and on identifying carrer path(s).
    Also i do get the focus and stress on networking and relationship building , would you have any comments on how differentiated LEAD/ LOE program might be from some of Booth's peer (Wharton, Columbia ...), in case you have reference points for them.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    Its likely I will be joining Booth next year (I've been just admitted) and your blog is a great place to learn about the school.

    I'd like to know if your trip to the Kilimanjaro was part of a Random Walk, or if you did it on your own (if so, when? before LEAD?).

  4. Thanks for sharing about BOOTH and LEAD. These are good projects for leaders.