Ideas When Creating or Revamping a Leadership Course

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By Stephen Rispoli

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “A Course Designed to Get Students Hired,” Professor Johannes Kern discusses how he revamped his supply chain course to be more student-focused with an emphasis on giving students the skills they need to get hired after graduation.   Professor Kerns states his belief that, “To better prepare students for their futures, educators must rethink the competencies we are teaching, the way we conduct our teaching, and the content we use in the classroom.”  He believes that creative problem-solving, developing judgment, and dealing with uncertainty are particularly important competencies to be taught.    ” His course involves “group work, student presentations, and direct feedback from industry experts.”

We had a similar revelation when we began teaching our leadership course, Leadership Engagement and Development, at Baylor Law in 2013. We created the course, like Professor Kern, with heavy emphasis on lectures, using the textbook and case studies to examine the material. We also used a method that felt familiar – the Socratic Method. What we quickly realized was that this approach did not work for teaching leadership. The students’ feedback and our own personal assessment told us that it was not the best way to engage them with the material. So, we revamped the course to include less time with us talking and more time with exercises designed to get the students to grapple and wrestle with the material, individual and group presentations, and lots of invited lawyer-leaders to speak to the class about their experiences. (We give these invited speakers the topic we’d like them to cover and they work their experiences into that subject. We will cover how we do this in more detail in a later post.) The response has been incredible! We have had lots of students tell us that it was their favorite class in law school and reminded them why they wanted to become lawyers.

So, if you are looking for ideas when creating or revamping a leadership course, we would be happy to consult with you.

We also recommend checking out Professor Kern’s article:


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