Monday, February 18, 2013

The Practice of Leadership in Business

Prospective students will often ask current students, "What is your favorite course at Booth?" It can be difficult to pick just one! This week, Elizabeth Bozek tells us a bit more about one of her favorite classes at Booth thus far, The Practice of Leadership in Business.



One of the questions prospective Chicago Booth students and those recently admitted to the MBA program often ask me is “What is your favorite class so far?” Although I have only been at school for about a quarter and a half, I already have a strong opinion. It may seem a bit funny for a student who is intending to concentrate in finance, but I have actually been enjoying a more qualitative class. The course that I am enjoying most is called The Practice of Leadership in Business, taught by Professor Linda Ginzel. On day one, Professor Ginzel was very upfront with the fact that this course would not be like most of the other classes at Chicago Booth. The class is intended to be abstract – discussions focus around ideas and methods – and there are no right answers or solutions to the topics we cover. Professor Ginzel warned us that it takes a very particular approach in this class to succeed, and that the goal of the course wasn’t so much to teach a particular subject, but to become wiser by turning insights into action for now and in the future.

Why am I taking this course? I wanted to learn about leadership development and experience a more practical aspect of becoming a leader. I also wanted to learn how different companies and organizations flourish under different types of leadership. I believed (and still do) that leaders are not necessarily born, but made. Other students chose to take this class because they were in the process of starting their own business or wanted to adapt their own leadership styles.

During this course, I am field testing leadership practices and drawing action implications from analyses. This is done by using a variety of resources such as classical readings, speeches, cases, and even contemporary films. I also have the opportunity to have direct contact with policymakers of major organizations and learn from their personal experiences. Many of the students in the class are second-years, part-time program participants and exchange students, so having the ability to converse and interact with a diverse group introduces me to ideas that were different from that of my immediate peer group.

The culmination of the course is to write your very own “This I Believe” essay following the guidelines set by the international organization of the same name. “This I Believe” engages a wide range of people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Some 100,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived online, heard on public radio, chronicled through books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project originated from the popular 1950s radio series that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Self-knowledge is a key attribute of a successful leader, and as Professor Ginzel says, nothing is real until you write it down. The essay is intended to instill confidence in one’s leadership decisions well beyond their time at Chicago Booth. “This I Believe” is a written testament to each individual’s personal values and ethics, and will be a credo to rely on while motivating others, communicating with charisma and leading in times of crisis. The Practice of Leadership in Business is a great way to continue the self-reflection and preparation of leadership skills introduced initially at LEAD (Booth’s Leadership Development course). It also provides the opportunity to experiment with thoughts and behaviors before returning to the workforce full time. I am very pleased with this class so far, and would encourage any student interested in learning how to apply leadership concepts to their future business experiences to enroll.

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