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Leadership success: A matter of degree


How does an effective manager become a successful leader?

“Leadership takes skill, and it takes practice,” says Todd Zenger, Robert and Barbara Frick Professor of Business Strategy and academic director of Olin Business School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program at Washington University in St. Louis. “Olin’s EMBA curriculum develops professionals through a powerful combination of management theory and application.”

“Measurement, assessment, and feedback  from personal evaluations, professors, and peers  are essential to the process,” adds Lee Konczak, academic director of the program and senior lecturer in organizational behavior and leadership development. “The objective is for students to define and strengthen their personal leadership profile. So it’s critical to establish benchmarks they can revisit on a regular basis.”

Both academic directors emphasize that leadership requires more than an analytical, cross-functional tool set.

Leaders must have the emotional intelligence to guide stakeholder relationships, competence to exert power and influence wisely and ethically, confidence to make decisions with less-than-perfect information, and courage to embrace change.

A Washington University Executive MBA creates value, especially in a competitive market like Denver’s.

“I moved to Denver looking for opportunity,” says Casey Dugan, director of pharmacy services for Children’s Hospital Colorado and a 2012 graduate of Olin’s Executive MBA program. “Olin prepared me to take the next step in my career by making me a better leader, with more expansive ‘soft’ skills and knowledge of organizational behavior and change management.”

Founded by prospectors in 1858, Denver encourages its modern-day adventurers and risk takers: entrepreneurs looking for a resource-rich environment to launch a new product or service or to commercialize a new business idea.

The Mile-High City is home to a wide range of innovative companies in industries such as aerospace, technology, and telecommunications. Many of these enterprises are becoming global and more complex, or flatter and more agile, and they need executives with C-suite-level abilities.

Ranked No. 2 worldwide by The Wall Street Journal, Washington University’s Executive MBA program has come to Denver.

The curriculum is taught by some of the best minds in business  professors Zenger says have hit the “sweet spot” of executive education. They’re “superb teachers and cutting-edge researchers,” internationally recognized for their management expertise and for their research productivity. The Olin faculty is widely published and cited in influential academic journals.

More important for Executive MBA students, professors bring their research models and methods into the classroom, providing real-time strategies students can apply to their organization’s business challenges. 

Case studies, simulations, and group exercises and projects accelerate learning. Midway through the program, students attend a weeklong residency on formal and informal leadership, including a section on corporate governance. Second-year courses focus on innovation and creativity, growth and sustainability, and global and emerging markets  business themes that are advanced by strong leadership performance.

Executive MBA students leverage Olin’s partnerships with universities in Brazil, China, and England, acquiring a deep understanding of the business, political, and cultural forces that affect the world economy.

Olin launched its St. Louis Executive MBA program in 1983, started the Shanghai-based Washington University-Fudan University program in 2002, and, in recent years, added campuses in Kansas City and Denver. Students in all three U.S. programs take their second-year courses at the university’s Charles F. Knight Executive Education and Conference Center in St. Louis.

U.S. students also participate in a residency in Shanghai, where they learn what it takes to become a global leader. Their agenda includes meetings with senior-level representatives from Chinese and multinational corporations and in-depth tours of high-performing companies.

Classes begin for Olin’s 20-month Denver Executive MBA program in September and will be held at RubinBrown’s offices at 1900 Sixteenth Street.

(Editor's note: This paid content is supplied by Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School Executive MBA program.)

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Meg Shuff

Meg Shuff is assistant dean of Executive MBA admissions at Olin Business School. Shuff has more than 18 years of strategic communications experience. She owned and operated a corporate communications and event­-planning firm and served as vice president of corporate communications for CitiMortgage. Contact her at mshuff@wustl.edu or visit embaolin.com.

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