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UK Business School Takes Fresh Approach To Leadership Development

Cranfield School of Management’s MBA program is ranked among the top 10 in the UK by the Financial Times

Mon Nov 27 2017

Good management strategy is key to any business—a lack of coherence has an insidious effect on a company’s longevity. But, in addition to an understanding of how to manage a company, strong leadership is a vital hinge in the growth apparatus of any successful firm.

At Cranfield School of Management in the UK, personal and professional development is carried out on an intimate scale, tailoring learning for each candidate’s needs.

“We understand you’ve got to get things done through people,” says senior lecturer of organizational psychology on the MBA program at Cranfield, Richard Kwiatkowski. “We develop people so they learn about themselves and are able to really reflect on the work they are doing.”

People go to Cranfield to change something about themselves, admits Richard. During their time on the MBA—a program ranked among the top 10 in the UK by the Financial Times—they grow and develop not just as managers, but as leaders as well.

The school is well-placed to develop the array of students it accommodates—from GPs to members of the military, all the way to marketing directors. And with over 25 years of dedication to understanding and developing people, Richard’s students are immersed in courses of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and the ability to motivate others.

Indeed, three key sub-modules on Richard’s course include An Introduction to Persuasion and Influencing, Leading Teams Effectively, and Personal Values and Ethics; Leading with Integrity.

“It all ties into the person on the MBA,” adds Richard, “who they are as a leader, what they want to achieve; what their values are.

“It’s about making sure that when they leave they have the ability to make a change in the world, with integrity, for the collective good.”

For Richard, that is the epitome of leadership development—“having that knowledge is very powerful in terms of an individual’s development, it allows them to reach their potential when they graduate.”

Many of the students who embark on the Cranfield MBA are sponsored by their organization. Wendy Shepherd, executive development director for the Center for Customized Executive Development at Cranfield, says this is usually for one of two reasons.

“Typically, we have people who have been identified as potential talent within their organizations, and who need to be developed for promotion in the short-term,” she says.

The other type of candidate is a little more complex. Wendy says the school deals a lot with incumbents—people already working within a specific role but the organization has identified the need to augment their skills. Tech advances in certain industries can, for example, force job roles to change.

Cranfield School of Management designs its learning processes around the organizational structure that’s already in place.

“Sometimes, business schools can be guilty of a ‘this is the next best thing in leadership’ approach,” laments Wendy, “advocating one type of leadership approach over another.

“At Cranfield, we have a more pragmatic approach, utilizing different strategies depending on the context or culture of our clients’ company,” she continues.

“It’s what makes the difference. We deal with the business context and, as the context changes, we change with it.”