Program Guide
MBA in Leadership

Many schools have adopted leadership development as the thrust of their MBA courses, despite the ongoing debate about whether leadership can be taught.

However, business schools have come under particular scrutiny in the past few years due to the number of business leaders presiding over failed organizations, some of which suffered prominent media speculation on their organization’s contribution to the global financial crisis. Many schools have made a conscious effort to address and understand these issues, and consequently have worked at redesigning and redeveloping their curriculum to reflect the type of student and graduate that they would like to see moving through their programs in the future.

David Bach, dean of programs at IE Business School in Spain says, “Students should embrace the crisis as an extraordinary opportunity. Crises make leaders. Anybody can succeed when things are easy. But real leadership is required when things get tough.”

Richard Ivey School of Business' executive director of the Ian O Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, Gerard Seijts adds: “Crises often emerge in an instant and are usually unexpected. There are no fast and easy answers, no simple rules to guide actions, and no pat solutions to the myriad of evolving issues that face organizations on a daily basis. In this vibrant and volatile environment, the need for effective leadership has never been greater.”

He highlights: “To build and sustain a high performing organization, a leader must not only point his or her people in the right direction. Rather, a leader must also have vision and the ability to connect with and continually nurture a network of relationships with other companies, organizations and people."

Once again, business schools in the US and Europe feature prominently in this rating, with 22 US and 17 European business schools included. This is reflective of the success of businesses in the US and Europe, with Fortune magazine’s 2011 Global 500 rankings of the world’s biggest companies listing 133 US and just over 160 European businesses.

For two years running, Harvard Business School takes the top spot in the leadership rating. This does not come as a surprise as historically, the school has produced more chief executive officers featured in the Fortune 500 companies than any other business school.

Other top schools are adopting innovative approaches. The Wharton School for example provides leadership development training at a military academy in Quantico, Virginia as an optional part of its program, while other North American schools such as the Tuck School of Business have designed programs that are tailored to each MBA student.

At Tuck the curriculum is designed as such that MBA students can develop their leadership skills over two years, and each students has a personal leadership plan. The Richard Ivey School of Business has also tailored its program to appeal to MBA students keen to develop their leadership skills.

UK business schools account for the majority of European business schools featured in this rating.

INSEAD and London Business School have a longstanding reputation for leadership development on their MBA programs. Both offer very different approaches; however they also have similarities in that both schools have widened and developed their executive education curriculum, allowing their MBA students to benefit from interaction with senior business leaders.

Other European schools featured in the ratings include Spanish schools IE and IESE, as well as IMD in Switzerland. Like Tuck, IMD has a very good global reputation for its ability to develop individual leadership skills in its small class of MBA students.

Business schools located in emergent BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) do not feature prominently in the rating, compared to their North American and European counterparts.

China has one business school in the leadership rating, CEIBS, while business schools based in Russia and Brazil do not currently feature.

As business education in these countries is still developing, employers continue to favor graduates from business schools in the long-standing markets of the US and Europe. However, as schools in the BRIC countries continue to develop their business education offerings, it is likely that international employers will look more to these schools in order to hire leaders that are capable of spearheading the growth and development that their organizations will need in order to operate in the global economies of the future.