Leadership in Action

Leadership Programs

Leadership Ventures
MBA students talk about their experience learning unique leadership techniques by way of participation in Leadership Ventures.

Wharton’s leadership programs are at the heart of MBA life. Our programs emphasize hands-on learning, from first-year Learning Teams to experiential co-curricular leadership programs. In addition to learning leadership in the curriculum, Wharton's leadership programs offer you many other options to develop your leadership style by analyzing and building on your strengths, from challenging leadership ventures to sustained leadership learning in leadership fellows programs.

Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management creates and runs many of the school’s innovative leadership experiences. Under the direction of Professor Michael Useem, one of the leading global experts on corporate leadership and change management, the Center supports leadership development at Wharton and Penn, as well as generating research projects, Wharton Leadership Conferences, and an electronic Leadership Digest with subscribers around the world.

Our mission is to develop leaders who act with a deeper understanding of themselves, their organizations, and their communities, and contribute positively to the growth of each.

Photo of students on a hike

Leadership Opportunities:

Learning Teams

The business world requires people to work successfully in teams that depend on persuasive rather than positional leadership. The learning team is a laboratory meant to cultivate these leadership skills. Starting with Pre-Term and continuing throughout the first two quarters of the Wharton core, a diverse group of five to six students is randomly assigned to collaborate on assignments.

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Learning Team Retreat

The Learning Team Retreat kicks off your first-year learning team experience. The retreat introduces the members of a learning team and provides the opportunity for the level of team formation that is necessary for success. Following the Learning Team Retreat, the experience continues during Pre-term as all first year MBA students complete Management 610, Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership course and work together on a case competition.

Since the team is not self-selected, there is a juxtaposition of diverse careers, interests, and international backgrounds. The team structure therefore encourages trial and error, risk taking, and creative friction among members as they learn to collaborate and lead within a group of peers.

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Executive Feedback and Coaching Program

With the Wharton Executive Feedback and Coaching Program (WECFP), MBA students link together the many aspects of their Wharton experience. Using an online platform, students incorporate feedback and self-assessments on extracurricular leadership, work experience pre-Wharton, and summer internships.

Based on your individual assessment, the WECFP provides one-on-one executive coaching, engaging in students in self-directed, individualized leadership development through targeted interventions and regularly scheduled coaching support. Throughout your two years at Wharton, you’ll gather feedback and compose a development plans that builds on strengths and address weaknesses. You’ll discover your leadership style and learn to lead effectively.

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Leadership Fellows

Through a rigorous selection process, 40 first-year MBA students are chosen every January to serve as Leadership Fellows. Fellows are charged with providing every first year student the opportunity to enhance their leadership potential through the development of practical tools and concrete strategies applicable in every area of their lives. To achieve this goal, Citigroup Foundation sponsors a thorough training program for the Fellows that gives them greater awareness of, and exposure to, the leadership skills of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, group facilitation, and conflict mediation. Along with these skill-building training sessions, the Leadership Program delivers team-building social opportunities to unite and encourage teamwork amongst the Leadership Fellows.

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Leadership Ventures

Wharton Leadership Ventures are a set of outdoor experiential leadership development opportunities for Wharton MBA students. The Ventures afford students the opportunity to engage in sets of hands on experiences for exploring and mastering the capabilities for effective individual and team leadership in business and beyond. Using an expeditionary format, teams of student participants are supported in partnership by world-class outfitters and Venture Fellows. The Ventures are intended to assist participants in improving their capacities to think strategically, communicate effectively, and act decisively. They are designed to foster forward thinking, a bias for action, risk awareness, and rapid decision-making. More than 500 MBA students participated in 13 leadership ventures in 2011-2012.

Leadership Ventures have included:

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Venture Fellows

The primary role of the Venture Fellow is to create an environment for both individual and team leadership development on a specific Wharton Leadership Venture. Venture Fellows fulfill this role by facilitating learning, mentoring participants, and providing logistical support for the Venture. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI), and WLV faculty and staff, provide trainings for the Venture Fellows who are responsible for the design and delivery of the educational curriculum of the Venture.

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Leadership Development Workshop Series

The Leadership Development Workshop series is designed to provide MBA students with action-based leadership learning opportunities to explore and develop their leadership skills and competencies. This series focuses on one to three day workshops that highlight alternative leadership education methodologies or specific topics such as leadership presence, critical decision making, and intergroup dynamics.

Leadership Development Coaching Series have included:

  • The Art of Woo
  • Your Work, Your Life...Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance
  • Managing Conflict with Power & Presence (Aikido)
  • Leadership Lessons from the U.S. Civil War Gettysburg Battle

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Nonprofit Board Leadership Program

The Nonprofit Board Leadership Program ("NPBLP") at the Wharton School was launched in the spring of 2005 with the goal of creating an experiential learning environment for students that would also support local nonprofits. More specifically, the NPBLP seeks to provide second year MBAs with a greater sense of how their leadership skills can be used to make a significant contribution within the nonprofit sector. The program is rooted in a commitment to serving the long-term needs of nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area. Together, it is envisioned that both Wharton and local nonprofits can help each other succeed and achieve a rich understanding of the growing intersection between business and nonprofit activities.

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Student Profile

Todd Mortensen

“As part of the DGSAC, we look at all the offerings of leadership training and we've come with a vision of how best to communicate that to the rest of the world.”

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