MBA Leadership Development Program

By the numbers


The percentage of first-year MBA students who participated in one of the three leadership development approach options.

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Why Participate?

Students who opt into the Leadership Development Program are self-motivated to improve their leadership skills. Even with the understanding that leadership development can be messy, confusing and slow, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort needed to improve. You might not agree with everything your executive coach or the leadership development program team has to say—and that’s okay. Like any feedback you receive, you are free to process and use feedback as you like to guide your personal improvement.

Vanderbilt, the leadership development program team, and the affiliated executive coaches devote significant resources—both time and financial—to your development. Your job as an Leadership Development Program participant is to be a good steward of these resources by fully engaging the process, honoring your commitments to your goals and scheduled appointments, and discussing any issues or challenges along the way with someone on the Leadership Development Program team.

If you’re willing to invest in the leadership development process, you can achieve your incremental goals and look back on your MBA leadership development experience with a sense of personal achievement.




Hogan  Assessment, Debrief  & 1:1

Even before you arrive at Owen, you’ll be asked to complete the Hogan Leadership Assessment, which is a personality-based assessment used globally by more than half of the Fortune 500 to hire and develop individual leaders like you. By taking Hogan, you will get three reports that offer insight into your natural leadership style, how you approach stress, and your values and motivations. Once you arrive on campus, you’ll participate in a Hogan Group Debrief Session with 10 to 15 classmates, where you will receive your personal assessment results, be oriented to the tool and your results, and have the opportunity to sign-up for a 1:1 session with a member of the LDP Team to review your results in greater detail. Hogan and the 1:1 debrief session will establish a foundation upon which your Leadership Development Program experience will build over your time at Owen. You will glean insights into your strengths and challenges, how others may perceive you, and how you might manage yourself to further your personal leadership goals—not with the intent of changing or “improving” your personality, but instead to help you build leadership skills that work for YOU, developing your personal leadership style based on your preferences, tendencies, and personal and professional goals and priorities.


Did you know?

  • 99% Percentage of MBA students who take the Hogan assessment.
  • 15 The average number of students in each Hogan group debrief session.
  • 42 The number of languages in which Hogan can be taken in.

Approach  Selection

Simultaneously with the Hogan Assessment process, you can start signing up for an approach selection session, where you’ll meet with a member of the Leadership Development Program team and up to three peers to confirm which approach you wish to pursue in your first year of the MBA program. You’ll be asked to share:

• Which approach – Individual or Shared?

Why is this approach the best fit for you?

• What do you want to work on during your Leadership Development Program experience?

• How does this approach best help you do that?

Even if you aren’t 100% sure of your preferred approach, hearing your peers share their rationale can help you affirm your choice, and in some cases, can challenge your assumptions. By the end of the 45-minute approach selection conversation, our goal is that you’ll have clarity around how you want to proceed with the Leadership Development Program and that you know what to expect from your experience.

The key to approach selection is to choose the Leadership Development Program approach that best suits you individually. There is no wrong decision; there’s just the best decision for you, your learning style, your goals and interests. No matter what you decide, you will continue to learn and stretch yourself as long as you invest in the process.


Understand the LDP Approaches

Individual Approach

If you are seeking not just to improve as a leader, but also to deeply reflect and gain an understanding of possible root causes for the leadership ideas and habits you’ve already built, the Individual Approach may be a good choice for you. In the Individual Approach, you will dialogue one on one with an executive coach who will ask questions, suggest new ideas, challenge your thinking, and provide an outside perspective. As part of that process, you have the opportunity to ask for specific feedback from people with whom you worked closely before enrolling at Owen or your executive coach might ask you to do an online self-assessment of 36 leadership skills/competencies.

Shared Approach

If you are seeking real-time feedback from Owen peers and multiple perspectives incorporated into your executive coaching experience, the Shared Approach may be a good choice for you. In the Shared Approach, your executive coach not only asks questions, suggests new ideas, challenges your thinking, and provides additional perspective, but also facilitates conversations to help you solicit feedback and perspectives from your two to three Shared Approach peers. In addition to the real-time insights and perspectives you get in your coaching group sessions, your executive coach may also leverage the online self-assessment of the 36 leadership skills/competencies to help you and your peers better articulate the leadership skills you want to develop.

Flex Approach

If you want to focus your attention in the first two mods on academic success, or job search, or acclimation to U.S. culture, or a host of other priorities; or if you are simply not ready or interested in the individual reflection and commitment required by the Individual or Shared Approaches, the Flex Approach may be a good choice for you. While the Individual and Shared Approaches are more intensive and have more structured timelines, the Flex Approach offers you the opportunity to engage with an executive coach for two individual coaching sessions at any point during your first year of the MBA program.

Did you know?

  • 95 The number of students who participated in the Individual Approach
  • 51 The number of students who participated in the Shared Approach
  • 11 The number of students who participated in the Flex Approach

Summer Internship Support

As the Individual, Shared and Flex Approaches wind down, you will be invited to meet with a member of the Leadership Development Program team to think about how you want to continue to leverage LDP moving forward into the summer and/or the second-year. Additionally, Professor Tim Vogus facilitates a capstone learning session to help you and your classmates exchange ideas and learning from your Leadership Development Program experiences to sustain that learning and put it into practice during your summer.

Once you are on your internship, you still have access to the Leadership Development Program team by phone and virtual meeting if you need help processing feedback from your employer, or if you want to redirect your leadership development goals midstream.


LDP—Year One

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

No, LDP is not part of any curriculum at Vanderbilt?s Owen business school. By design, LDP supplements your academic work to help you develop as a more capable, well-rounded business professional. Just like in full-time jobs, 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.

Q. If LDP is not part of the curriculum, why do students participate?

What you learn about yourself through LDP can shape how you perform during your internship, how you lead or contribute to high-functioning student and work teams and how you set goals to build your career.

Q. What is the Hogan Assessment?

The Hogan Assessment is a personality-based assessment used by more than half of the Fortune 500 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. Can I take Hogan in my native language?

Hogan is offered in 42 different languages, including German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. You can take the assessment in your native language if offered but all reports will be generated in English.

Q. Is there a Leadership class that I can take?

There are lots of classes at Owen that teach leadership skills, like Leading Teams and Organizations (LTO). These classes are part of the curriculum, and while often LDP partners with them, they are not part of LDP.

Q. How accessible are the LDP resources? Is there a limit to the number who can participate?

The LDP resources are very accessible. Anyone who wants to participate can. There is no limit to the number of students who can participate in the Individual, Shared or Flex Approach in Year 1. Some of the programming in Year 2 can be space limited based on the format or room location, as is true for some of the outside speaking engagements. But in general, the opportunities are accessible and open to all.

Q. What are the types of things students work on with their coach in Individual and Shared Approach?

It varies widely from student to student, by design. But, to help give you a picture of what types of things students work on, 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. However, the leadership journey is a lifelong one, so part of what we try to do is help you break down these 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 Owen 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 many students are in a Shared Approach group?

Typically, three students make up a Shared Approach group and are matched with one Coach. The group stays the same throughout all four sessions, which often fosters stronger bonds amongst the group members and with the coach.

Q. How does the program mirror best practices from industry?

We reach out to industry often to stay current with best practices and to learn of ways we can incorporate it into LDP. A great example is Mentor Circles. We modeled this second-year LDP program based on a similar, highly successful, program offered at AT&T based on the recommendation of an Owen alum who is also a senior executive at AT&T. LDP also resembles best practice in industry in the ways we help develop students as organizations develop their high-potential leaders. For example, we use experienced executive coaches and pair it with tools and resources used widely in industry, such as the Hogan Leadership Assessment suite and Korn/Ferry VOICES 360 and leadership competency suite.

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 leaders in industry. 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.

Q. How do you match students with coaches?

This process is part art and part science. We leverage our conversations with you, your survey data, your Hogan results (with your permission) and what we know of the coaches to make the match. It takes about 20 hours and our offices look like something out of the movie "A Beautiful Mind" to quote a student observing us doing the matching process. Every coach we have is capable of coaching any student, so match is really about trying to help ensure an expedited rapport-building process to help you maximize the four sessions you have with your coach. The thing to remember is that the coaches aren?t your best friend, which means you don?t have to have a permanent relationship with them to learn from them.