Wednesday, November 2, 2011

LEAD at Booth

Happy November everyone!

This week, Chloe Williams blogs about Chicago Booth’s flagship LEAD program.


There is only one class that is required in the Chicago Booth curriculum. That class is LEAD. LEAD stands for Leadership Effectiveness and Development. As described on the Booth website, this course is designed to enhance students’ self-awareness and interpersonal effectiveness through a series of challenging, yet fun, classroom sessions and events. When I first read that, I thought it would be a fluff class that talks about feelings. I figured we would do a few Myers Briggs assessments, everyone finds out they have a type-A personality, and life goes on. A little cynical, but I had been through those tests, along with 360 degree assessments, and other “find out about yourself” tools many times over the last few years. But I realized that LEAD was different…much different.

First, the course starts off with a three-day retreat in Wisconsin for all first year students. The class is split into 10 different cohorts with approximately 58 students each. While in Wisconsin we do ropes courses, improvement exercises, and have an abundance of social events to break the ice. Then we come back to Chicago and start the good stuff. We meet once a week for six weeks and cover a different LEAD module each week. 2nd year students teach the class and we tackle issues such as ethics, conflict and integrity, giving and getting feedback, interpersonal communication styles, and of course, team dynamics. The modules are seemingly independent but it all comes together at the end of the six weeks with two events called “LEADership Challenge” and “LEADership in Crisis.” A group of students (10 for LEADership Challenge, 4 for LEADership in Crisis) is selected by each cohort as representatives in each of the challenges.

I can only speak to LEADership Challenge as you can only participate in one. Also, given the nature of the day-long challenge, I am not able to disclose all of the details. But trust me when I say that these challenges are where all of the modules and concepts in LEAD come together. Prominent alumni come to Chicago from all around the country and spend a day in the Harper Center with the cohort teams. There are challenges to be completed and the alumni play an interactive role in all of the challenges. These tasks require dealing with all of the concepts brought up in the modules. You get to see your fellow classmates in situations you never imagined, and understand how all of the different components of the leadership course fit together. My initial skepticism of LEAD was blown away by this event, which has to date been the most rewarding experience of school. Lesson for all: Pay attention in LEAD and you’ll do well in the Challenge!

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