When Bloomberg Businessweek asked MBAs from the Class of 2012 to rate their business school experiences, UNC Kenan-Flagler students praise their school’s pioneer leadership development program. Of the 82 U.S. and international business schools, their reviews landed UNC Kenan-Flagler the seventh highest score in leadership.
The school is now expanding its commitment to shaping leaders beyond its own campus through a partnership with AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or AACSB). UNC Kenan-Flagler is using its years of experience in leadership development to serve as a valuable resource for peer business schools that are working to create and implement their own leadership programs.
Inspired by organizations’ growing demands for employees with strong leadership skills, AACSB and UNC Kenan-Flagler collaborated to create “Up Your Game: A Leadership Challenge.” This simulation, which is available to AACSB members online, helps business schools better prepare students for the responsibilities and conflicts they will face in real-world business settings. It allows business schools to incorporate hands-on training into their leadership development programs, giving students the opportunity to practice and evaluate their leadership skills.
To help faculty and administrators learn how to effectively administer the simulation, UNC Kenan-Flagler hosted a training workshop on Jan. 15. Representatives from 30 business schools across the United States and Canada traveled to Chapel Hill for the AACSB-sponsored event.
The simulation instruction was paired with “The Curriculum Development for Leadership Seminar,” where UNC Kenan-Flagler shared its expertise in creating courses and programs that shape effective leaders. UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty and staff led the seminar at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Rizzo Conference Center on Jan. 14. In addition to helping participants explore leadership development tools ranging from coaching programs to action learning, the seminar tackled important big-picture questions, such as how to define leadership.
Thanks to participants’ “off the chart” positive response, plans already are in the works for a second leadership and simulation training seminar, said Mindy Storrie, director of leadership development at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
UNC Kenan-Flagler students were the first to try out the “Up Your Game” simulation. They tested it out during MBA Leadership Day, a for-credit set of activities in which students interact with executives and in exercises that extend their leadership lessons beyond the classroom.
Storrie created the simulation to complement UNC Kenan-Flagler’s model for developing leaders: principles, practice, feedback and reflection.
“Our students learn about effective leadership principles in the classroom and by interacting with successful executives,” said Storrie “Our leadership initiative focuses on completing the model – giving students all the opportunities possible to practice these principles in a safe environment.”
The “Up Your Game” simulation put students in the shoes of an associate brand manager with an inbox full of questions, problems and complaints that could be encountered in any real-world business setting. After responding to these emails individually, students debriefed and shared their experiences with peers in small-group discussions facilitated by trained executives. With the help of an accompanying workbook, students were encouraged to assess their own performance and reflect on the exercise before meeting one-on-one with an executive coach for further feedback.
By combining practice with evaluation, the simulation gives students a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in areas such as performance orientation, influence, conflict management and problem-solving.