Leadership Development: SML and a new MSc in Strategic Leadership

Along with colleagues at the University of Westminster I am developing a new part time MSc programme in Strategic Leadership for experienced managers and professionals that incorporates key elements of the SML approach.

From a development perspective the most significant conclusions of decades of leadership research make a good case for ensuring that any learning in this field is self managed. For example, there are no clear generic definitions of what makes for leadership effectiveness so the context of the individual’s development is of particular importance. Given that those most knowledgeable about their development contexts are going to be the learners themselves, the design of development programmes should reflect this. Further, one might expect that any development programme will support the underlying principle that the learning process itself should embody the intended outcomes. If, as in this case, it is strategic leadership abilities that are to be developed, then the learning process should require the demonstration of strategic leadership from participants. Clearly, they would not be served by a programme that presumed to tell them what they need to learn and how they need to learn it.

Using a combination of short workshops and regular learning group meetings, the MSc in Strategic Leadership will operate within the University’s modular framework but in such a way that the learning will be self managed to match the requirements for development indicated above.

The use of learning contracts will be a key mechanism for encouraging and enabling participants to adopt a strategic approach to their own development. Supported by appropriate diagnostic activities, each person will create and agree their learning contract with fellow members of their learning group early in the programme as part of the Reflective Practice module that lasts for the whole of the two years. This will be supplemented by the Strategic Leadership module through which participants will clarify and enrich their maps of the strategic leadership domain in the contexts of their current work situations and their longer term aspirations. The major vehicles for the implementation of learning contracts will be a Work Based Project module followed by a Dissertation module.

There’s much more that could be said about this programme, so if anyone wants further information or to discuss it, please contact me.

Ben Bennett