EMBA Students Focus on Leadership, Meaning, Impact

Gary Anello joined the joined the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany as leadership and career development manager in 2019. Four years and one pandemic later, Anello sees some shifts in students who are entering Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program.

“The desire to develop as a leader really seems to be moving to the forefront,” says Anello, who is also a certified coach. “The value they see is far beyond the academics, the business acumen they gain. They want to become leaders, powerful leaders, transformative leaders.”

Post-pandemic, students are looking at leadership through a different lens. “It’s a recognition that their leadership has consequences, and those consequences are meaningful for them, they are important to them,” he says.

Leadership focus includes courses, coaching, and reflection

The modular Kellogg-WHU EMBA Program offers students a leadership focus through the curriculum and optional leadership and career development workshops in almost all modules. 

More than 90 percent of EMBA students choose to participate in the workshops, where they learn more about developing executive presence, negotiating difficult conversations, and building executive resilience, among others. Three workshops also feature group coaching, two with simulations and one where students bring a genuine leadership problem to their group. They also benefit from one-on-one executive coaching, as well as career coaching, and a variety of assessment tools and resources. 

Anello also hosts 15 to 20 minutes of reflection time twice every module at the start of the day, which gives students some quiet moments to digest their leadership lessons and listen to each other’s perspectives. 

Students want to make a meaningful impact

In the fall 2022 cohort, Anello and faculty members noted a subtle difference in the way that students engaged in the classroom. “There is a thoughtfulness about this particular cohort,” he says. “They’re not so quick to answer questions. They are focused on really thinking through their answer before they respond.”

Whether a result of the pandemic or a generational difference or both, EMBA students also seem more dedicated to finding meaning in what they do and a better balance in their lives, he says.

“EMBA students prior to the pandemic focused on the next best thing, but I think the perception of the next best thing is what’s changed,” he says. “People are looking to do things for them that matter. I’ve always said that I was amazed at students who felt like they wanted to make an impact, but that seems much more acute now.”

EMBA Program helps build self-awareness

All that is good news for Anello because it reinforces the importance of his leadership and career coaching initiatives for EMBA students. From the first module that includes a leadership in organizations course to workshops and executive coaching throughout the program, the program helps students build a deeper understanding of who they are.

“It’s my belief that if you don’t have a clear idea of who you are, what you want, what matters, why it matters, it’s very difficult to make a meaningful change in your career, one that’s going to last, one that’s going to be truly satisfying.”

Because coaching is all about helping people see what they can bring to the table, Anello is an advocate for teaching EMBA students to coach as the next step in leadership development. A potential offering is in the discussion phase at this point.

“EMBA students are starting to become more and more familiar with coaching. I think it would be great if we could teach them to coach.”

See how EMBA Programs support the transformation of students into powerful leaders at EMBA Buzz and follow us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.