Susan Zhu and fellow contributors recently partnered with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) to better understand how business schools and employers approach leadership development programs and how both parties can be better aligned to improve the leadership development processes and offerings at business schools. The results can be found in their report, "Comparing Lenses: Business Schools and Employers on Leadership Development."
One of the key takeaways is that although employers believe that business schools are effective and well-regarded partners to develop their employees, a majority prefer in-house leadership development programs or third-party non-degree leadership development offerings. They say convenience, customization, and flexibility are key for their employees.
"The programs at the Gatton College that are industry-specific, like healthcare, are great at delivering customization," said Zhu. "Perhaps leadership development offerings created through industry partnerships that can be accessed on-demand would be effective. There’s a lot of competition out there in this space - often with better technology and user experience - and business schools should leverage things like research, networking opportunities, and evidence-based insights to meet the needs of industry."
Another idea that stood out to Zhu and her team is that both industry and business schools tend to believe that leadership development is reserved for upper-level management or executives. Said Zhu, "A number of participants in the study articulated that their entry-level employees or front-line managers can actually benefit from leadership development the most. It would be interesting to target those folks in development offerings."
Susan Zhu is an Assistant Professor of Management at University of Kentucky and a Senior Fellow at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).