Features Leadership On the Edge

BLG Leadership Academy – New Dates Announced!

trainingI’m excited to share that in addition to our Summer Session of the Cornell-BLG Leadership Academy this coming June, we’ll be offering a Fall Session this October.

The BLG Academy offered through Cornell University’s Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS), is an integrated face-to-face public program that trains individuals in the skills of pragmatic leadership. It is intended for managers and functional specialists with at least 5 years of supervisory or managerial experience, and is comprised of four courses:

  1. Change Leadership
  2. Proactive Negotiation and Persuasion
  3. Engaging and Leading Teams
  4. Enhancing and Coaching Others

These skills include rallying people around ideas, forming coalitions, engaging teams and enhancing and coaching others.  The Cornell-BLG Academy is committed to that end, to providing skills you need to execute your strategic vision.

Both sessions will be held here in New York City at the Cornell ILR Conference Center. Learn more about the BLG Leadership Academy here, or for more information send us an email or call us at 607-280-2642.

BLG Leadership Insights Managerial Competence Political Competence

What Happened to all the Executive M.B.A.s?

Executive M.B.A. programs have been growing in popularity in the United States since its inception at the University of Chicago in 1943. Traditionally, they have been used by companies to advance promising internal employees whom they want to develop into their future leaders.

Over the past several decades, it was quite popular for a company to identify pools of “rising talent” and sponsor them as candidates for Executive M.B.A. degrees at various higher level educational institutions. If candidates were admitted to the program, a tripartite relationship would be established between the sponsoring employer, the prospective student, and the university.

For a while, the benefits of an executive M.B.A. have seemed quite clear. Employees can continue working in their present organizations while obtaining a degree similar to an M.B.A. at a fraction of the normal cost and time. Additionally, the practical skills they attain from the program can be applied to their positions immediately as well as after program completion.

Subsequent to completing the degree, employees aim to rise faster within their organizations and increase their salaries. Likewise, many companies are content sponsoring employees who return to the company with increased loyalty, thereby helping the company with long-term succession planning. The degree has thus served as a promising strategy for leadership development and retention.

However, a recent article from the Wall Street Journal highlights changes in sponsorship trends for executive M.B.A. programs. With tighter budgets companies have been cutting back their investments in educational sponsorship. This results in more students taking it upon themselves to finance their executive M.B.A. educations, leading to more mixed outcomes upon program completion.

According to a survey of about 290 member schools by the Executive M.B.A. Council, only 27% of executive M.B.A. students received full financial sponsorship from their employers last year, down from 34% in 2007. In response to fewer sponsorships, more and more students are using career services offered by their schools in order to open alternate doors for them, rather than simply returning to their previous or current companies.

In response to increasing demand, many schools are offering greater career-coaching services to assist their executive M.B.A. students find new job opportunities. The article sites The Anderson School of Management at UCLA and the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University as prime examples of schools that have invested in personalized coaching services.

But does the decrease in executive M.B.A. sponsorships and the emergence of more career-coaching programs indicate a trend we should be concerned with?

While such trends could seem indicative of companies being less interested in investing in their own human capital, the answer to this question really depends on what glasses you are wearing. From the vantage point of companies, it could just be that they have not found executive M.B.A. degrees quite as useful in practice as they seemed in theory. From the perspective of schools, it could be that they are simply responding to students who have been urging for them to provide more options of post-graduate work. Or students may now be more are willing to finance their own degrees knowing that they will be less obligated to return to a previous employer. The best we can do for now is to keep a keen eye on the trajectories of our most recent executive M.B.A students to see what paths they follow.

Leadership Videos

What is the Internet Hiding From You? (video)

If you are at all curious about the invisible flow of on-line information you need to see and hear this TED talk by Eli Pariser. It will make you take a second look at the Internet and your place within the new world it is shaping.

Oh and I should also note that I stumbled across this video in my Facebook feed today. Trust me, after you watch the video this seemingly minor bit of information will become much more than just a personal aside.


BLG Leadership Insights

Richard Feynman’s Problem Solving Skill

We’ve talked about Richard Feynman here before. We concluded that his unique problem solving skills should be employed by people in all fields.

That was last year.

Since then Bill Gates has bought the rights to Feynman’s 1964 Cornell University lecture series, The Character of Physical Law, and posted them online in an interactive media player.

The videos are transcribed, embedded with commentary, packed with additional resources, and invite users to take chronological notes while they are watching. And, yes. They are completely free. We owe Gates a big thank-you for his generous gift.

The lectures, roughly 7 hours total, are targeted to first year college students and are easy to follow even if you lack a background in math or physics. Feynman’s intellectual energy and natural curiosity make the videos entertaining and fascinating. Before your know it, they are over.

Gates bought the lectures from Cornell University, the BBC, and the Feynman estate for an undisclosed sum. He has said that if he had the chance to watch the lectures as a student he would have studied physics–not computers. It’s easy to see why. Feynman’s personality, humor, and mathematical excitement are hard to ignore.

The complete Feynman lectures reinforce our old point: unique problem perception isn’t simply for Nobel Prize winning physicists–it’s a skill that can and should be applied in any industry, pursuit, or agenda. The lectures, as a whole, also make another point. Big, exciting, curious thinking is needed in all subject areas. It creates problem solving energy and a big-picture view that welcomes creativity and skepticism.

Here is a short clip from the lecture series below:

BLG Leadership Insights

Academic Leadership Dos & Don’ts From the Field: Interview with Edward Lawler

edlawlerNever before has academic leadership been so challenging. Today, universities more then ever need proactive leaders. Individuals who understand academia, understand the context of universities, and can create change. Academic leadership does however make unique demands. In the next month we will be returning to the theme of academic leadership and the challenges of creating a proactive academic community….