The Role of Executive Education in Fostering High-Performance Teams

The Role of Executive Education in Fostering High-Performance Teams

These courses go beyond individual skill development to cultivate synergistic collaboration, innovation and high-performance team cultures

Team dynamics are essential for organizational success. And that’s why business schools have increasingly placed emphasis on executive education programs tailored to hone leaders’ capabilities in fostering effective teamwork. These courses go beyond individual skill development to cultivate synergistic collaboration, innovation, and high-performance team cultures.

And they take a multifaceted approach, drawing on insights from organizational behavior, psychology as well as management theories. Participants are immersed in experiential learning environments that mirror real-world challenges, providing them with the tools and strategies necessary to navigate diverse team compositions, mitigate conflicts and harness collective strengths.

“Through an exercise-based curriculum, you will identify direct applications of the learning to your team leadership role,” explains William Klepper, the Faculty Director of the Developing and Leading High-Performance Teams program at Columbia Business School in New York.

“You’ll walk away from the program with an action plan for your team, ready to implement improved team leadership, develop high-functioning teams, and work towards higher team performance,” he adds.

Columbia Business School’s Developing and Leading High-Performance Teams stresses that the key to organizational success is dependent upon harnessing the power of teams. “It will enable executives to develop the skills and tools needed to maximize the potential of diverse teams to increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness,” says Klepper.

He adds that “executive Education focuses its scholarship on the application of knowledge In other words: good in theory but will it work in practice”.

Diversity and inclusion: imperatives for high-performing teams

Furthermore, diversity and inclusion play a crucial role in executive education programs aimed at building cohesive and high-performing teams. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are three closely linked values held by many organizations,” says Diana Cordova, Managing Director of Executive Education at Kelley School of Management in Illinois. “Striving to build and maintain a workforce of people representing different races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations has recently been at the forefront for many organizations.”

There are strong motivations for this. Studies have shown that companies focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion attract and retain top talent better, are better able to meet the needs of different customer bases and are better able to respond to challenges, Cordova points out. “And, according to McKinsey, the business case for diversity and the relationship between diverse executive teams and financial performance continues to strengthen over time.”  

Kellogg offers the Leading High-Impact Teams course for executives, which focuses on experiential learning and teaches the intricacies of internal and external team dynamics and how to manage them.

So what specific leadership skills and qualities do executive education programs focus on developing to enhance team effectiveness? “We start by eliminating problematic assumptions about teamwork and replacing them with healthy ones,” says Selin Kesebir, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, which offers the Leading Teams for Emerging Leaders executive education course.

For example, some managers think that they need to do everything by themselves, that they need to control their team members, or that it’s about how brilliant they are. “We encourage managers to think through and share their experiences on why these assumptions are counterproductive,” Kesebir continues. “Through discussion and exercises, we drive home the points that effective leaders mobilize all latent capacities in their teams, rather than doing the work themselves or that chronic micro-managing is going to hurt the team.”

Addressing the challenges of remote work and virtual collaboration

Additionally, executive Education programs are instrumental in addressing the obstacles of remote work and virtual collaboration, says Steven Grundy, Interim Director of Open Programs for the Executive Education division of Cambridge Judge Business School, in the UK. “These programs not only enhance the efficiency and productivity of team meetings in both virtual and traditional environments, but also equip individuals with effective strategies for managing remote teams and maintaining strong communication and organizational culture,” he adds.

Cambridge Judge offers a wide range of courses for executives dedicated to enhancing team performance. One such program, “Creating High-Performance Teams”, provides participants with the ability to view things from different perspectives and transform talented individuals into cohesive, high-powered teams.

“Furthermore, this program prioritizes coaching and support, empowering participants to both challenge and elevate their teams,” says Grundy, adding this aids the development of strong leadership styles too.

With so many options available to choose from, what are some key considerations for organizations when selecting executive education programs to address their team-building objectives?

Grundy says organizations must have a clear understanding of their overall goals and strategic objectives. “Equally important is the determination of whether the program will focus on individual or collective objectives; some organizations may priorities upskilling and developing a strong leadership pipeline, while others may require targeted support for individual leaders to improve team cohesion.”

He says that Cambridge Judge “highly recommends reaching out to a provider to discuss specific organizational challenges, as there may be valuable insights and options available”.

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