Transitioning to Leadership
  • Leadership

Transitioning to Leadership

An objective look at Chicago Booth’s executive program emphasises the value of learning for new leaders


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“The program makes you rethink the way you evaluate and analyze a situation and provides alternatives for making better decisions.” Felipe Lazzari, Commercial Director, Tramontina, Carlos Barosa, Brazil

This comment, from a recent past participant in Chicago Booth’s Executive Development Program (EDP), sums up the value of a top-quality program from a leading business school in preparing functional-level executives for the critical transition to general management.

But it does perhaps raise a couple of questions. First, why does a successful individual in a middle-to-senior role in, typically, a multi-million turnover business need to rethink how they make decisions? And secondly, is it realistic to expect people so far into their management career (usually around 10 years) to learn new tricks?

There is certainly good news as far as the second question is concerned. Recent evidence from neuroscience emphasizes how the plasticity of the brain enables far greater lifelong development than was previously thought possible. This shows through learning and inner-development, we can significantly and continually improve our performance.

As far as the first question, under normal circumstances seeking to improve interpersonal skills and bolster one’s strategic management capabilities to step into senior-level leadership must be beneficial—but the business environment we are in today is far from normal. Volatile markets, rapid technological advances, millennials entering the workforce, and an uncertain geo-political landscape, requires a unique set of adaptive leadership skills and a new way of thinking.

The very best executive programs provide a catalyst in building function-based managers into effective senior-level leaders. Participants learn how to lead in a world of constant change, the acumen to inspire high-impact ideas through purposeful inquiry, turn data into actionable insights, and acquire the frameworks for multi-dimensional problem solving.

Most importantly, a top-quality program offers two key benefits that provide participants with a unique boost as they enter a new phase in their careers. First, its mutually supportive community will build a strong network of support and contacts that can last a lifetime. Secondly and fundamentally, the teaching is from world-class faculty with a profound understanding of how organizations function, how markets behave, and how people make business decisions.

In the case of Chicago Booth, this comes from an institution whose Nobel Prize winning research and faculty redefined the science of the stock market, originated the study of modern finance, pioneered database marketing, and defined the concept of social capital.

Chicago Booth’s Executive Development Program, focuses on these five areas: 

  • Understand the psychology of judgment and the decision-making process
  • Develop techniques to shape group behaviour and gain an understanding of the relationship between individual behaviour and organizational performance
  • Learn how to interpret and evaluate financial data, understand the relationship between finance and broader organization, and techniques to incorporate financial data in the decision-making process.
  • Explore methods for marketing segmentation, targeting, and positioning for—and the impact on— competitive advantage and long-term profitability.
  • Discover the fundamentals of business strategy, including recognizing key strategic issues, identifying and exploiting opportunities to create value, and understanding how industry structure impacts strategic leverage.

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