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“We hope the <i>Leadership Perspectives</i> experience will provide students with a framework and foundation for leadership development that continues well beyond graduation,” said Professor Michelle Buck, director of the Kellogg Leadership Initiatives team.

Michelle Buck

Bringing leadership lessons to life

Through Kellogg’s new <i>Leadership Perspectives</i> course, students gain peer support and feedback on their development as leaders

By Daniel P. Smith

12/28/2011 - What does it mean to be a leader who thinks bravely?

Kellogg leadership experts Michelle Buck and Robert Langewisch want to help students answer that very question. The two have created a new course that places students’ leadership experiences into the context of their lessons they are learning in class.

“We don’t want to leave learning on the table, and the new Leadership Perspectives independent study course gives guidance and coaching so that students can extract the most insight from their on-campus leadership roles,” said Buck, director of Kellogg’s Leadership Initiatives team.

Nine second-year Kellogg students are enrolled in this fall’s inaugural class. They include Jose Ramos Lobo ’12, president of the Latin American, Hispanic and Iberian Management Association (LAHIMA). Ramos Lobo applied to the course with an eye toward gaining new perspectives on leadership alongside classmates traveling similar paths.

“I thought this course would provide me with the space to reflect on my leadership skills and how I want to shape my leadership style going forward,” Ramos Lobo said.

Students in the year-long, one-credit program meet three to five times each quarter. During the class, students reflect on their leadership development through both written assignments and group dialogue. The class allows busy student leaders to pause and integrate what they are learning inside and outside the classroom.

The course helps students explore issues such as a leader’s role, how to accept feedback, and how to plan for a transition, something all students encounter as their Kellogg careers close.

“The students really appreciate that this is a time that’s set aside for them to ask questions and share situations they are encountering as leaders,” Langewisch says. “It gives them time to stop and think — and get good input from their peers.”

Langewisch helps to guide the discussion and frame the situations raised by students. “‘What’s the lesson here, and how do you carry that forward?’” is a question he often asks them to consider.

Less than a quarter in, Ramos Lobo said the class had exceeded his expectations and pushed him to examine the leader he currently is and the one he wants to become.

“I’ve been more aware of my actions and their impact on my colleagues as well as more attentive to leadership lessons in places where I was not expecting to get them,” he said.

Kellogg offers a number of other practical learning opportunities that complement the school’s academic coursework on leadership. In addition to Leadership Perspectives, these offerings include:

  • 360-degree leadership assessment. All incoming full-time Kellogg students rate themselves on leadership competencies and also receive assessments from former colleagues and supervisors. A workshop helps students interpret and leverage the feedback and explore how they can develop their leadership capabilities while pursuing their professional and personal aspirations at Kellogg. An optional one-on-one coaching session with a Kellogg faculty member or alumnus allows students to further assess the 360-degree feedback in a more individualized setting. 

  • Facilitated reflection sessions: These quarterly sessions place students in small groups to review their leadership action plans and improve in targeted areas. Students then act on these insights in their Kellogg activities. 

  • Peer feedback: In academic study groups and extracurricular activities, students have the opportunity to give and receive feedback. Addressing capabilities in leadership and teamwork skills, this feedback complements the insights students receive in the 360-degree leadership assessment and allows students to practice the skills of giving and receiving feedback, an essential element of leadership development.

“These co-curricular opportunities can make the academic learning more personal and help students discover their own strengths, weaknesses and values as leaders,” Buck said.

Buck and Langewisch hope the new independent study course, in particular, will immerse students in discovery, reflection, self-awareness and collaboration.

“Ultimately, we hope the Leadership Perspectives experience will provide students with a framework and foundation for leadership development that continues well beyond graduation,” Buck said.