Situational Leadership Gives Students a Chance to Learn More about Themselves

When it came time to design an experiential learning activity for a new Leadership class, there was one situational exercise that immediately came to mind. Unlike many leadership activities, however, this particular exercise did not originate in either academia or the corporate world; it began on the battle-tested training grounds of the United States Marine Corps. Mickey D’Armi, Texas Executive Education’s Director of Marketing, remembers: “When I think back to my time at Marine Corps Officers Candidates School, one event stands out – the Leadership Reaction Course. Every Marine Officer has gone through this challenge, and will tell you that the lessons they learned have served them well in peacetime and in war, and continue to shape their leadership style today. This event gives our students a chance to exercise decision making, show adaptability, gain confidence, and communicate leader’s intent to their team.”

Leadership Class Course Leadership Class Course

The Leadership Reaction Course gives students a chance to lead in a unique and challenging environment with a series of timed tasks that they are unfamiliar with. Participants rotate through a variety of situations that test their leadership as they are placed in charge of a small group of their peers, and the students learn from both the “leader” and “follower” perspective. Lynn Slattery, Texas Executive Education’s Director of Open Enrollment Programs recently took a group of business professionals through the Leadership Reaction Course as a part of the Refining Your Leadership Approach and Style class. “This event challenges our students to get outside their comfort zones, and gives them a great opportunity to learn more about themselves. It prepares participants to develop processes to lead new teams while recognizing individual team member styles and strengths, and getting the most out of the group. Debriefs and after-action reports then bring the activity back to parallels in their business lives.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a great experience. It challenged me, gave me tremendous insights into my personality and leadership styles, and gave me new tools to use.” -- Chip Beebe, Engineering Manager, Southwest Research Institute

The Refining Your Leadership Approach and Style class is more than just the Leadership Reaction Course; it is also filled with three days of classroom instruction in leadership concepts, frameworks, emotional intelligence assessments, and peer discussions that result in personal reflection, learning, and action planning. Students improve their understanding of contextual demands and how different leadership styles and behaviors best meet those demands. They also benefit by obtaining a greater awareness and mastery of their own leadership approaches, and gain a better recognition of effective leadership styles for given circumstances.

If you are interested in learning more about the Refining Your Leadership Approach and Style class or any of our other almost 40 classes, please contact our Director of Open Enrollment Programs Lynn Slattery at lynn.slattery@mccombs.utexas.edu.