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Northwestern University has launched a five-class, university-wide online specialization designed to develop and expand leadership skills. Kellogg Professor Leigh Thompson (pictured) teaches one of the new courses.

The Kellogg School of Management launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) designed to teach aspiring managers how to develop and expand their leadership skills, design collaborative teams and craft winning negotiation strategies.   The course, “High Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork and Negotiation,” launched Oct. 19 and is taught by Leigh Thompson, the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution & Organizations and director of the Kellogg Team and Group Research Center.

Northwestern debuts new online leadership series

Organizational Leadership Specialization will teach managers how to tackle new challenges in the business world

By Claire Zulkey

11/5/2015 - Northwestern University launched two new, innovative Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Oct. 19 as part of a five-class, university-wide specialization designed to teach aspiring managers how to develop and expand their leadership skills in an ever-changing business environment.

Northwestern created the “Organizational Leadership Specialization” in partnership with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications; the Kellogg School of Management; the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and the School of Communication.

Four Northwestern deans and 10 faculty members are collaborating to teach the specialization, which will present the best of Northwestern’s scholarship on leadership to learners from different disciplines, different parts of the world and different types of organizations.

Dean Sally Blount ’92 introduces each course, tying them all together under the leadership theme, and works with McCormick Dean Julio Ottino, Medill Dean Brad Hamm and Dean Barbara O’Keefe of the School of Communication to guide the specialization’s overall direction.

“We are very excited to work across Northwestern to leverage technology to bring this cross-functional approach to a global audience,” says Betsy Ziegler, chief innovation officer at Kellogg.

The first two MOOCs — “High Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork and Negotiation” and “Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling” — focus on expanding collaboration and negotiation skills, and developing powerful stories. Medill faculty Tom Collinger, Ernest Duplessis, Hud Englehart and Candy Lee teach the storytelling course.

Leigh Thompson, the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution & Organizations and director of the Kellogg Team and Group Research Center, helms the collaboration course.

Students can enroll in the individual courses for free and can complete the courses according to their own schedules. For learners wishing for a certification of completion, this can be purchased at $79 per course or less than $600 for the entire specialization. To receive the specialization certificate, which can be placed on resumes, CVs and online profiles, the learners must also complete a final capstone project.

‘Do I have what it takes to be a leader?’

For her course, Thompson designed 26 bite-sized videos for the MOOC. “The most common questions I get are: ‘Do I have what it takes to be a leader? How do I build a team? If things don’t go so well, how do I negotiate?’” she says.

The course focuses on helping students discover common misconceptions about leadership, learn skills to cultivate effective leadership, design optimal teams for collaboration and create mutually beneficial negotiation strategies to minimize conflict.

Each installment begins with a story that may or may not relate to business (samples include the naming of Misty Copeland as principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre or the keys to a good marriage), followed by a description of a key concept or skill, and then the research basis and takeaways. Quizzes along the way provide touch points to ensure that learners are grasping the material.

Specialization includes courses on marketing, design innovation

The third course, “Leadership Through Social Influence through the School of Communication,” will launch Nov. 15. In January 2016, McCormick will launch their MOOC, “Leadership through Design Innovation,” and Kellogg will launch a second MOOC, “Leadership through Marketing.”

Gregory Carpenter, James Farley/Booz Allen Hamilton Professor of Marketing Strategy and Director of the Center for Market Leadership, will teach the second Kellogg MOOC alongside Sanjay Khosla, an adjunct professor of Executive Education and former president of developing markets for Kraft Foods (now Mondelez International), and Florian Zettelmeyer, the Nancy L. Ertle Professor of Marketing.

Learn more about the online courses: