Executive MBA

Hear directly from students
about the value of the Leadership
Development Program.

Through the discussions with my executive coach, I’ve been able to work through topics and experiences within both my personal and professional life that have helped me see them from a different perspective and to create action plans to positively resolve issues I’m dealing with.

DeWayne Todd Executive MBA 2017


The Executive MBA Leadership Development Program (LDP) is intertwined with your current professional and personal experiences -- job, teamwork, classes and personal life. When you opt to participate in the Leadership Development Program depends on your capacity and your commitment. What your leadership development looks like depends on your personal goals. LDP is not a class nor is it mandatory as part of your EMBA program requirements. It is the component that enables you to become your best self.

Why Participate

Don’t just learn to manage. Learn to lead.

Leaders at all levels of an organization can always be more effective. We desire to help you better lead people and organizations in an ever changing and complex global environment. Tailored and personalized to you, the underlying goal of leadership development is to help you learn, grow and develop your individual capacity as a leader no matter what function, industry, or current role you have or desire. We believe understanding your talents and recognizing your undeveloped areas that may need bolstering sets the foundation to help you achieve your career and personal goals.

How it Works

LDP will match you with a certified executive coach, from the Owen Coaching Network, for five sessions over a 6-month period of time, equivalent to the coaching experience of a c-suite executive. You have the choice to start coaching at the beginning or end of your first year in the Executive MBA Program, regardless of which track you choose. As part of the opportunity, you have access to two diagnostic assessment tools – Hogan Assessments and Korn Ferry KF360 – used by Fortune 500 companies. You can then integrate the insights gleaned from this data with your on-the-job experiences into coaching to help you maximize the coaching experience.

Understand that leadership development is not a linear process. It will feel messy, confusing, and slow. It is an incremental process. Something that sounds simple, but is not always easy, but may add tremendous value.

We ask that you be willing to give the time and effort needed to improve. Like any feedback you receive, you determine what action you want to take and how much. If you are willing to invest in the process, you can attain your incremental goals and look back on the Executive MBA experience with an added sense of personal achievement.

What to Expect

Whether this is your first time focusing on your leadership development or not, begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is your current snapshot -- where are you now and what would you like to achieve?
  • What leadership skills would help you be more effective at your current job? For your next job?
  • How can you better influence those around you?
  • What type of leader do you want to be?
  • What are your biggest challenges?

Working one-on-one with an executive coach may challenge your thinking around these types of questions.

The executive coach is a thinking partner and sounding board with whom you will dialogue. They will ask questions, suggest new ideas, and provide an outside perspective.

As part of the dialogue, you can leverage one or both diagnostic assessment tools. The Hogan Assessment will help you glean insight into your strengths and challenges, how others may perceive you, as well as how you might manage yourself differently to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. You may also choose to engage people with whom you work closely to make the most of their insights and feedback through the Korn Ferry KF360 tool.

You have the unique opportunity to put your insights and learning to work immediately in real-time whether on-the-job, in your C-Team, in the classroom, even in your personal life. Then, leverage coaching to help you process and iteratively continue to expand and improve your capabilities.

In addition to your executive coach, you have the LDP Team to support you through your personal leadership journey during the Executive MBA experience.

Our goal is for you to not only gain new insights and develop new skills that will drive you towards your personal goals but also help you develop a habit of self-reflection and learning from pivotal experiences.

They have helped me develop a better understanding of ways in which my personal style and characteristics, as well as the approaches I bring to problem-solving influence my efficacy as a leader.

Jennifer TaylorExecutive MBA 2015


Meet Your Leadership Development Team

Melinda Allen
Melinda Allen
Executive Director, Leadership Development Programs
Emiko Baldwin
Emiko Baldwin
Senior Manager, Leadership Development Programs


Executive MBA Leadership Development

Q. What is the Hogan Assessment?

Hogan is a personality-based assessment used by more than half of Fortune 500 companies to hire and develop individual leaders like you. Hogan was developed to improve workplace performance and is used among companies globally to do so. By taking Hogan, you will get three reports that give you insight into your natural leadership style, how you approach stress, and your values and motivations.

Q. What is a 360 assessment or survey?

A 360 is a tool used to provide you confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around you. Typically, this includes your boss(es), peers, direct reports, customers, and others. At Owen, Executive MBA students will have the opportunity to leverage the Korn Ferry KF 360 tool as part of their experience if they would like additional data regarding their leadership style and its efficacy (optional).

Q. What is executive coaching?

It is a collaborative, mutually designed relationship between you and a qualified executive coach. It is a formal engagement for a period of agreed upon time and to reach agreed upon goals. It is about exploring together to create a path of where you are today and where you want to be in the future by determining what the gaps are and how to close the gaps through learning and action.

Q. Who are the executive coaches?

Our executive coaches in the Owen Coaching Network are a carefully vetted, high-performing set of independent coaches whose full-time job is to coach executives, leaders, and future industry leaders. Five coaches specifically work with the Executive MBA students. Their primary clients are corporate leaders, and they take on as many Owen student coaching clients as their schedules will allow in a given year. Our coaches are qualified and certified by the International Coaching Federation, and the coaches who work with Executive MBA students are a specific sub-set of the larger network. Our coaches all have extensive experience working as executives and/or coaching experienced executives.

Q. What happens after I have completed my coaching sessions?

Throughout the Executive MBA program, the LDP Team is always a resource to you. We are happy to meet with you one-on-one to support you during coaching, if needed, as well as once you have finished the coaching engagement to determine the best course of action for you.

Q. What are the types of things students work on with their executive coach?

It varies widely from student to student, by design, but here are some examples: increasing confidence, dealing with ambiguity, becoming less of a perfectionist, managing stress, reducing self-critical thoughts, managing conflict, speaking up when you aren’t an expert on a topic, enhancing listening skills, and asking more questions just to name a few. 

Since the leadership journey is a lifelong one, we try to help you break down the larger themes into manageable chunks with specific strategies and tactics for addressing them. Despite starting with small and seemingly simple tasks to help improve each desired area doesn't mean that those specific strategies and tactics are easy, which is what makes leadership so challenging and so rewarding. 

Our goal is for each student to leave Vanderbilt with greater self-awareness and improved leadership skills and for them to leave with the tools for continuing to grow their leadership capabilities throughout their career.

Q. How does leadership development differ from career management? What are the synergies?

Leadership development is about empowering you with the tools and skills to assess your strengths, weaknesses and effectiveness so that you can better learn from your experiences and build personal development growth habits as you progress through your career trajectory. Career management is about planning and evaluating your career trajectory.

Q. What if engaging with an executive coach for a 6-month period seems overwhelming or is not appealing?

There are several options, depending on how much (or little) you would like to focus on your personal leadership development journey. Your meeting schedule and/or programming may also differ depending on which program track you select. Learn more on the Leadership Development Page. If your priority and/or focus is career, then participate in programming offered by the Career Management Center.

Q. Is the leadership development program part of the curriculum?

No, LDP is not part of any curriculum at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. By design, LDP supplements your academic work to help you develop as a more capable, well-rounded business professional. Just like in business, when your company offers you access to resources dedicated to high-potential leaders, your level of initiative, openness to new challenges, and drive for success is demonstrated by how you leverage those resources.