Preparing to be a World-Class Leader

If you’re interested in honing your skills at managing people as part of your MBA coursework, you’ve come to the right place: There are great talent management courses to choose from at MIT Sloan.

By Emilio J. Castilla

From the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative Blog: https://gcgj.mit.edu/whats-new/blog/preparing-be-world-class-leader

People are at the heart of every organization. And after you graduate from MIT Sloan, chances are good that much of your success in the business world will hinge on your ability to understand and work with people—whether you’re managing, hiring, developing, evaluating, negotiating with, communicating with, or collaborating with them.

So why not focus on improving your skills at cultivating talent and mastering important aspects of human and social capital development while at MIT Sloan? Courses in work and organization studies are one of our school’s long-standing strengths, and by taking those courses, you will have direct access to renowned faculty who not only teach but also interact with executives and workers while conducting innovative research.

If you’d like to create your own pathway toward expertise in effectively managing people and building strong teams and organizations, it’s not hard to do. You’ve already got a foundation: the Organizational Processes required core course in the first semester of your MBA program. Then add several of our other key courses: 15.662 People and Profits, 15.679 USA Lab, plus one or more of the following classes:

15.669 Strategies for People Analytics

15.S03 Leading the Way

15.304 Being Effective: Power and Influence

Why these courses?

  • 15.662 | People and Profits: Shaping the Future of Work (Spring, H3) focuses on how work is changing in the 21st century and will help you prepare to shape that future as a manager. The class will give you a chance to delve into the larger social context of work as you explore various management strategies.
  • 15.679 | USA Lab: Bridging the American Divides (Spring) is an experiential Action Learning Lab focused on work, community, race, and culture in rural and urban regions of the United States. The class takes a multi-stakeholder approach that is key for 21st-century leadership. You’ll get to learn from and understand people who may have had very different life experiences from you as you conduct fieldwork in rural regions and small cities in the U.S., working on critical community challenges with innovative local organizations.
  • 15.669 | Strategies for People Analytics (Fall, H2) explores data-driven approaches to improving people-related decisions, for the purpose of advancing both individual and organizational success. In a world where many business leaders still make key decisions about their workforce based on intuition, experience, advice, and guesswork, this course will introduce you to a number of people analytics strategies that innovative companies are using to attract and retain top talent. As part of this class, you will be asked to design a people analytics project for an organization.
  • 15.S03 | Leading the Way: Individual and Organizational Perspectives on Advancing Equity and Inclusion (Spring) addresses both individual skills and organizational strategies for advancing equity and inclusion—an essential topic in 21st-century workplaces. This course will help you develop and practice skills for managing a professional identity, interacting effectively with diverse others, managing difficult conversations, exercising voice, and advocating thoughtfully for change.
  • 15.304 | Being Effective: Power and Influence (Spring) To be an effective leader, you need to know how to navigate the organizational environment in which you work. This course will teach you how to map power and interest patterns within organizations, how to understand your own interests and objectives, and how to operate effectively in organizational environments. It offers frameworks as well as a range of practical tools to help you develop power, persuasive skills, and influence.To complete your pathway, add at least one additional electives from the list below:
    • 15.270 | Ethical Practice: Leading Through Professionalism, Social Responsibility, and System Design
    • 15.320 | Strategic Organizational Design
    • 15.661 | Building Successful Careers and Organizations (Note: Due to a sabbatical, this course will not be offered during the 2020-21 academic year.)
    • 15.665 | Power and Negotiation
    • 15.674 | Leading Creative Teams
    • 15.677 | Urban Labor Markets and Employment Policy
    • 15.768 | Management of Services: Concepts, Design, and Delivery
    • 15.S09 | Managing Crucial Conversations About and Across Difference
    • 15.S57 | Collaborative Intelligence Ventures

    You can find out more about all of these classes in a useful course guide published by the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan and the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER).

    Following this pathway will give you a good grounding for successfully leading people and organizations in the 21st century—and will help prepare you for a satisfying and effective management career in the changing world of work.


    Emilio J. Castilla is the NTU Professor of Management and a Professor of Work and Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER) and a Faculty Director of the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan.

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