Friday, September 30, 2011

Terry Builds Leadership…Really

Yesterday and today at Terry, two teams of MBA students competed in the Leadership Crisis Challenge. Valerie Alderson, who participated in last year's challenge, had this to say about her experience:

If I were a betting woman,--and I am-- I would bet that every MBA program claims to be developing the next generation of leaders in some way, shape, or form. Last year over 150,000 MBAs were conferred* and, of course, all those MBAs were prepared to take on the world! The only issue? The real world is not a classroom.

Decisions have implications. You don’t get a grade on a work project. It’s not feasible to learn how to be a leader by simply reading a book. Recognizing these differences between the classroom and the office, Terry decided to build a specific leadership development component into the curriculum.

Terry works real life challenges into the classroom environment in a fun yet challenging way. An example of this was a crisis challenge where 10 of us were separated into 2 teams of 5 to compete against one another to complete the best business plan under strict time constraints. These were the guidelines we were given:

“Congratulations, you are the new project team on a luxury resort project. The project is 3 weeks behind schedule and $2 million dollars over budget. We have to open on time so you need to find out how to make that happen. The Board will give you 5 minutes tomorrow at the end of their meeting to present your plan.”

We received some additional information, though not enough to make the best choices. I won’t bore you with all of the details, except to say that each piece of info we received about cutting costs or speeding up completion time was going to have negative backlash. Each team had until midnight (a 6 hour deadline,) and all we had were whiteboards, Excel and PowerPoint; the tools of masters. At 11:59pm we submitted our 5-slide PowerPoint for the “board meeting” the next day.

The following morning we were met by four men of varying backgrounds that shared one thing in common: they were our ‘board’ and were here to give us a hard time about the difficult choices we had made.

Even though it was a simulation, it was downright scary being attacked by these seemingly powerful execs. We stood our ground and remained united as a team and we did survive…just long enough to receive a message from our imaginary CEO about a scandal that was going to hit the airwaves tomorrow. We had 45 minutes to write a press release and then give a press conference to -- you guessed it -- two actual members of the UGA press who were there to batter us with questions.

While undoubtedly stressful, the entire event was a great learning experience.

After the barrage of questions from the ‘board’ and the ‘press,’ it was only fair that they provide us some feedback. I truly learned some great things about dealing with a BOD that I never would have learned in the classroom. It was a simulation, but it was as real as it gets before it gets real enough that jobs are on the line.

No comments: