Prerequisite: Students must have completed the Lead: People, Teams, Organizations (B6500) core class. The class is best suited to students taking leadership roles during the MBA experience (club officer, cluster officer, peer advisor, etc.).
Leadership roles can involve a wide range of communication challenges— mentoring a struggling colleague, persuading investors of your brand, rallying an auditorium of new employees, working the room at an industry event, handling tough questions from the media, running team meetings in ways that elicit candid conversation and learning.
While all of us at CBS are strong communicators, few of us are adept at all these different kinds of communication. The goal of this class is to broaden your repertoire, to make you a more versatile communicator who can adapt your way of communicating to meet many different challenges.
The world is full of communication experts: actors, screenwriters, coaches, political speechwriters, networkers, public relations experts, diplomats and so forth. This class draws on these different crafts and professions looking for tools and methods that help in the kinds of situations business leaders face.
We aim to develop two kinds of knowledge--conceptual understanding and procedural skill. Each session will involve some class discussion about frameworks cases and some active participation in exercises. We rely on role-play simulations and personalized feedback (from peers and through video) to practice and polish the behavioral skills.
Our first topic, for instance, is story. We introduce concepts of story structure (e.g. protagonist, five-act structure, sensory details) and apply these to topics you anticipate speaking on as a leader (e.g. Who am I? Why hire me? What makes our organization different?). Then we practice delivering our stories with impact (silence, vocal variety, visuals). Keeping this dual emphasis on concepts and performance, we move on to topics such as coaching, public speaking, networking and making an impact in small groups, facing audiences during crises, and leading meetings.
Robert Kulhan was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2012 to 2016.