HR & Management

How business schools ensure their courses are relevant to you

4 min read

29 December 2015

As a business leader, it’s essential to step back from time to time to assess where your company’s going, to check and refresh your vision, and ensure that you and your team’s development needs are met. It’s necessary, but with everything else demanding your attention, can be as difficult to schedule as that holiday you’ve been meaning to take for the past, ooh, two years.

It is equally necessary that contemporary Business Schools provide relevant, topical and contextualised programmes to meet the specific needs of modern organisations. Business school academics – particularly those that are part of a university – combine real-world, often global experience with directly relevant research activity.

This, critically, requires them to develop both deep knowledge of the broader business environment and an understanding of the needs of specific sectors and organisations. As a result, the programmes, courses and workshops business schools develop and run are carefully designed to anticipate the needs of businesses like yours (the vision and development needs, not the holiday. Sorry).

When people talk about ethical leadership, what they really mean is good leadership. And good leadership depends on both individual leaders and their context.

I’ve researched, consulted and lectured on leadership in the UK, China, Denmark, India, Japan and Finland as well as in my native Hungary. So, I understand the differences that someone’s personality, the business they run and the time, place and conditions in which they run it make to their leadership styles and approaches. This is why, during a three-day course, I work with participants to encourage them to reflect on various leadership definitions and framework so they can devise their individual take on what leadership is.

That way your concept of leadership will relate to the practical issues you face. It will be a working definition you can keep at the forefront of your mind, and revise as you encounter and absorb new ideas, situations and experiences. Following this personalised approach means that participants develop an individual and integrated ethical perspective to leadership enabling them to navigate their business through any ethical “grey areas”, and also to increase the agility of their individual and company-wide decision-making processes.

This personalised, and context-appropriate approach is key to how business schools ensure their courses are equally as relevant to, and useful for entrepreneurs as they are to managers in large public sector organisations. As Westminster Business School’s Market Development Manager Ibrahim El Mayet says “all our research – academic and market – shows that business owners and managers are increasingly – and appropriately – focused on the cost benefit ratio when investing time and money in training and development opportunities for themselves and their employees. So, all our courses, programmes and workshops are designed to provide immediate and tangible benefits for the businesses and individuals who participate.”

This means that during Westminster Business School’s modular MSc Leadership, participants complete a project in and for their own company that, as programme director Dr Ruth Sacks explained, “addresses a workplace-specific issue, providing, in effect, internal consultancy with an impressive level and breadth of external input from course leaders and peers.” And the personalisation element of short workshops ranges from developing a risk assessment strategy for your business (Risk Management for Leaders), to having a professional photoshoot for your social media profile (Strategic Social Media for Executives).

So, although business schools don’t provide holidays (still sorry), they do ensure that the courses, programmes and workshops they offer contribute directly to businesses. And they can provide the time, headspace and tools that enable business leaders to take that step back, explore and adjust their vision and ambitions for their business and their approach to leadership. Sometimes change is better than a rest…

Dr Katalin Illes leads Westminster Business School’s three-day Ethical Leadership programme.