Leadership is not a power, it’s an attitude

Henry Mintzberg considers management as a practice, an art even. “Knowledge may be important, but wisdom — the capacity to combine knowledge from different sources and use it judiciously — is key” (Mintzberg, 2004). He called for ‘raising managers, not MBA’s’. A call MaastrichtMBA has taken seriously. Since 2007 the Leadership Development Trajectory (LDT) is an integral part of the curriculum and highly valued by students.

Personal effectiveness and leadership wisdom

LTD aims at developing participants’ personal effectiveness and leadership wisdom in an engaging way, seamlessly fitting into their personal ambitions and challenges. LTD is a coaching trajectory consisting of an intake questionnaire, a series of one-to-one coaching sessions with a coach, a mutual learning group, a buddy, team assignments and a two-day training session with fellow students. Conceptual knowledge on leadership is also offered as part of several MBA modules. All students write a Leadership Development Report that serves as a supporting tool during the leadership growth process. LTD offers students a unique opportunity to ask themselves what kind of leader they aspire to be and to develop the necessary soft skills. MaastrichtMBA is the one of the few Executive MBA’s that offers such a comprehensive leadership trajectory throughout the MBA curriculum.

Effective reflection tools

We asked students how they appreciate this element of MaastrichtMBA. Indian Saravanan Mohan (37), Senior Technical Application Manager at Ingenico ePayments: “Before I started the course I had a totally different definition of leadership. I considered it as a power. I have now learned that is not a position but an attitude. I now know that I would like to be a servant leader to empower and serve people.” Floor Oosterlee (31), Dutch citizen and working as a Nature-based solutions Advisor at Shell: “I believe it is very important to be able to listen and ask questions. The LDT showed me that this is indeed a good way of helping others in their leadership development.” Asked about how they both integrate personal development and leadership in their lives, Floor answers: “I ask as much feedback as I can, in various ways; formal reviews, calling a colleague after a presentation, feedback of fellow students. Next to that, I feel that self-reflection is important for personal development; take the time to reflect on your own performance, behavior and values. MaastrichtMBA and specifically the LDT have helped me in finding effective reflection tools.” “I apply my learning on a small scale in my day-to-day life and experience the successes and failures to become better each day”, says Saravanan.


Valuable part of the MBA

Both Saravanan and Floor consider the LDT as a valuable and meaningful part of the MBA. “I can rely on my coach for good (and fun!) personal coaching sessions. My buddy and I have great conversations over dinner about work and life. And I truly enjoy the group sessions in which I learn a lot.” Saravanan wanted to develop his leadership skills particularly on conflict management, assertiveness at work, inspiring and leading others and learn to see the opportunity in challenges and changes. “The powerful introspective questions during the mutual learning group sessions and individual coaching helped me to rediscover my core strengths and stimulated the action plan for areas of improvement. The mutual learning group is a place where I get the most practical experiences and advice from my fellow students, where I learn the perspectives of others on how to deal in a specific situation.” Floor: “Because of the professionalism, kindness and experience of my LDT coach Micole, my buddy and the mutual learning group, I gained a lot of new insights. For instance that I could be a coach myself. I didn’t realise that I was able to help people with their challenges! I am glad we still have some sessions to go and I really look forward to them.” Saravanan totally agrees. “The LDT is a unique opportunity to learn and share experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Leadership is a continuous learning process. My personal take-away is that engaging in effective conversation by asking questions is far more effective than telling people what to do.”