The Future of Executive Education

What do great leaders have in common? They never stop learning. For great leaders, development lasts a lifetime and draws upon surprising sources, far beyond their day-to-day worlds.

But great leaders don’t keep learning just for their own sakes. They know in their bones that the measure of their success stands or falls on the caliber of the leaders they grow. So they do their best to inspire every person in the organization to develop their potential greatness. And great leaders never let a high-potential employee get away. They trust their eye for talent and they challenge the most, those they believe have the best inside.

What does the future of executive education look like?

In the past, all too often, executive education served as a nice diversion. A little learning, a few rounds of golf, shopping and sightseeing, and then back to the grind. No more.

If the future is here, but just unevenly distributed, then what does the future of executive education look like?

First, it’s radical. Full-on. Bring your whole person or don’t come. As the Marines say, “The way we train is the way we fight.” Executive education of the future will feel more like simulated battle than like death by PowerPoint.

Second, it’s real. Program participants won’t be allowed to come back to work without ideas and tools they can use immediately. Forget stale case studies about another firm’s challenges or problems. Tomorrow’s executive education will be all about your organization, your challenges, and your problems.

Third, it’s relational. The world will belong to those who can sense, create, relate, engage, inspire, motivate, and challenge. No matter what you’re learning, if you’re not learning to bring out the best in others and the best in yourself, then you (or your sponsoring company) are wasting your money.

Radical Executive Education: The key to keeping the very best of the best

The retention of top talent has become equally important, if not more important, than the development of top talent. Senior leaders are now believers that it is their employees — rather than new products, services or technology — that will drive the future growth and success of the company. The book “Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down”  by Vineet Nayar provides important lessons on how one CEO used the Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS) approach to transform their company from a slow-growth bureaucracy into a marketplace powerhouse. Sending high-performing, high-potential employees to executive education programs is a great way to retain them because it is both a tangible demonstration of the company’s ongoing investment in their future, as well as a “thank you” for past contributions.

About the Authors:

Steven D. Olson, Ph.D.Steven D. Olson, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. Steve is an award-winning teacher in the College’s executive education, EMBA and Executive Doctorate in Business programs. He is an expert in fuses theory and practice in leadership, innovation, and environmental sustainability. Steve advises leaders in some of the most successful organizations including the U. S. Marine Corp’s Officer Leadership Academy. He was also the co-founderand managing partner of Generative Consulting, a leadership development firm whose clients regularly appear on Fortune’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.” Steve earned a Master’s Degree from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

Daniel L. Stots, M.S.Daniel L. Stotz, M.S., is Senior Director of Executive Education and Lecturer at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. Dan has 18 years of experience designing senior-level executive development programs that integrate the topics of leadership, innovation and strategy. He plays the lead role in working with senior executives to design customized executive education programs that accelerate the leadership development process. His current and past clients include Cox Enterprises, the FBI Crime Labs, GE Energy, Georgia Gulf Corporation, McKesson Technology Solutions, NCR Corporation, Regions Financial, Rollins Inc., and the NASA Johnson Space Center to name just a few. Dan earned a Master’s of Science in Management from Colorado State University.

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