**Live, online shopping sessions with the faculty instructors are taking place on Aug. 29 and 30.
Access these sessions via the course Canvas sites, linked from shopping session schedule posted on the HKS website here.**
Since 1983, when Ronald Heifetz fielded his first leadership course here, the Harvard Kennedy School has been at the forefront in the field of leadership development. All those years ago, outside of military academies, the scholarly study of leadership was a rarity. But in the years since, Heifetz and his HKS faculty colleagues have spent decades analyzing the personal leadership cases of political, social, and business leaders, and especially those of HKS students themselves. Lessons from these thousands of cases inform and continue to shape the theory of practice and pedagogy of the Adaptive Leadership courses being taught this year at HKS.
MLD-201 Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change is the foundational course introducing students to key concepts and frameworks for understanding leadership. Taught in the fall by Farayi Chipungu and Tim O’Brien, and in spring by Hugh O’Doherty, MLD-201 provides a diagnostic and strategic foundation for leadership practice. Applying theory to practice, these instructors help students learn, and understand the relationship among key concepts:
What is leadership? How is “leadership” distinguished from “authority” in a given context, system, or organization? How can one exercise leadership without authority, whether from inside a system, or from outside? What are the available diagnostic tools for analyzing the complexity of change in social systems, and formulating strategies of action?
Students in MLD-201 employ multiple frameworks for analyzing the challenges leaders face. Principally, how can one understand the distinctions between straightforward “technical” challenges and the array of “adaptive” challenges that most often lead to the seemingly inevitable failures of leadership.
“Adaptive work is needed when both the challenge itself and its potential avenues for progress are unclear, if new ideas and new learning are required, and if hearts and minds must shift for progress to occur.”1
Given ever-present, adaptive challenges and concomitant risks of failure, students aspiring to lead must learn reflective practices to become thoughtful and resilient. Using an action-based pedagogy, MLD-201instructors and course coaches enable students to engage and experience the exercise of leadership. Then, using extensive, scaffolded feedback and reflective activities, students learn and improve their personal leadership practice. Thus, students come to understand what is “the work” of leadership.
Two courses taught by Heifetz build upon these foundational frameworks and practices.
In his January-term, intensive course MLD-202 Leadership from the Inside Out: The Capacity to Lead and Stay Alive–Self, Identity, and Freedom, Heifetz asks students to make a pivot from the contextual, external dimensions of leadership to focus on personal, internal dimensions of leadership. As complicated as the external context may be, Heifetz has come to understand that of equal importance is a leader’s own self-understanding. “We want to zoom in on YOU as a complex system,” he states. Young and developing leaders must be able to read and comprehend their own multiple identities – e.g., family, political, racial, national, sexual, etc. – and the activation and interplay of these at any given leadership moment.
Heifetz has learned that sometimes identity-based frames of reference cloud and confuse leaders, leading them to poorly or incorrectly diagnose situations, putting them into danger and contributing to their own neutralization. In the course, students undertake a deep exploration of their own internal habits, guided by analytical structures, frameworks, and conceptual methods of analysis, with the goal being to strengthen their sense of self and to become less reactive when identifications are activated to their detriment. Understanding what students bring into a given leadership situation, and developing a practice to remain flexible, keep curious, open to information and change, but still maintain integrity is the goal of MLD-202. Referencing the U.S. Civil Rights activist and longtime U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Heifetz says, “We want you to become a smart ‘troublemaker’!”
As in MLD-202, Heifetz’s fall course MLD-204 Leadership from the Inside Out: Self, Identity, and Freedom – With a Focus on Anti-Black Racism and Sexism asks students to look inside themselves and to develop a practice of analysis and reflection, but with a special application to the distinctive challenges – both internal and external – that leaders might face in combating anti-Black racism and sexism. Focusing on these two discrete, but admittedly huge, challenges to the practice of leadership, students can draw lessons about fighting other forms of enculturated injustice, as well as any other challenge for which they are willing to engage in the dangers of leadership.
“We want you to become a smart ‘troublemaker’!”
The course has four strands that weave through the semester:
In the first strand, through political psychology, Heifetz leads an exploration of the nature and sources of identity and analyzes identity as both a profound resource and endangering constraint on the practice of leadership.
The second strand consists of intensive casework. Students analyze leadership cases from their experience in two directions: externally on the ecosystems of anti-Black racism and sexism they have known; and internally on their own identities.
In the third strand, students investigate their vulnerability, as a product of their own unique identities and experiences, to key dangers of leadership and professional life: the temptations of significance, belonging, and validation; authority, power, influence, and control; and intimacy and sexual gratification. Students will strengthen their capacity to assess dangerous situations that can play to their weaknesses and then learn to respond to these with self-awareness and discipline.
In the fourth strand, students explore ongoing ways to generate the freedom of mind and heart to engage fully in the diagnostic and action work of leadership and stay alive in their lives and in the spirit of their work.
As is true of all the adaptive leadership courses described here, MLD-204 draws on multiple disciplines and areas of study: history, economics, sociology, philosophy, psychology, studies of gender and race, religion, literature, as well as organizational and political leadership.
Special note on MLD-202 and MLD-204: These courses are designed to generate a personally transformative education. Interested students should note that these courses will be an intensely emotional experience. They explore students’ own cases of failure and success as well as their experiences of trauma and its impact on identity, especially MLD-204. Students can choose how deeply they explore these experiences, and no one will be pushed to share more than they wish. Nevertheless, students should not take these classes if they do not feel prepared at this time to undertake a potentially destabilizing exploration.
With the deepening of political divisions on societal challenges, policymakers must navigate increasingly tense environments to engage in constructive dialogues across political fault lines. They must be equipped with relevant sense-making frameworks, analytical tools and interpersonal skills to maintain productive dialogue with difficult counterparts on contentious issues such as the response to the pandemic, climate policies, gun control or irregular migration. Public officials and civil society organizations alike are not only expected to craft a constructive dialogue with all stakeholders but also to prevent and mitigate the risks of instrumentalization by various groups. To fulfill their role in such environments, policy professionals need to acquire strategic capabilities to lead constructive engagements with a wide range of stakeholders from the most supportive to the most disruptive while managing risks effectively in a tense public arena.
Student who take MLD-234 Conducting Negotiation on the Frontlines with Claude Bruderlein develop a solid understanding of the social, behavioral and cognitive implications of political tensions in society and equip students with the required strategic frameworks and practical tools to engage in high-stake policy dialogue and negotiation. It will provide students with core competences on strategic planning and crisis negotiation informed by current practices from the political, commercial and humanitarian sectors. It will further expand their technical skill set and self-confidence to engage with adversarial or intimidating counterparts while facilitating their connections with US-based frontline negotiators. This course is designed for students who intend to work in high-intensity environments at the domestic or international level. It complements the January-term course IGA-353M Frontline Negotiation Labexamining negotiation practices in the response to the Ukraine crisis in Europe.
Please note, this is a jointly offered course hosted by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and, accordingly, students must adhere to the academic and attendance policies of HCSPH.
MLD-234 is taught in close collaboration with the Centre of Competence and Humanitarian Negotiation and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, enabling students to engage with frontline humanitarian negotiators from the UN and other international agencies operating in crises around the globe. This course offers a unique safe space to review and discuss current challenges and dilemmas with stakeholders of ongoing negotiation processes and examine practical tools and methods to overcome these challenges. Students will also be encouraged to develop their own critical thinking about these issues and to test their negotiation skills in simulations and other practical exercises.
Claude Bruderlein is Adjunct Lecturer on Global Health and Senior Researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. He also holds a secondary appointment at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In his research, Mr. Bruderlein focuses particularly on the conduct of negotiation in complex and hostile environments.
Since 2012, he is serving as Strategic Advisor to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, focusing on strategic relationships, communities of practice and institutional development. He also serves as Senior Researcher at the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), a joint endeavour of the ICRC, the World Food Program (WFP), the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Médecins- Sans-Frontières (Doctors-Without-Borders) (MSF). In 2010, he co-founded the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection and served as its first President of the Board until 2012.
Before joining Harvard University, Mr. Bruderlein served as Special Adviser on Humanitarian Affairs to the UN Secretary General, focusing particularly on issues related to the negotiation of humanitarian access and the targeting of sanctions. He worked on negotiation of access in Afghanistan and North Korea. He also served as an independent expert to the UN Security Council on the humanitarian impact of sanctions in Sudan, Burundi, and Sierra Leone. He has previously worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a field delegate in Iran, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Yemen.
Even the most visionary, well-connected, and well-funded social enterprises fail to achieve their aims. A common reason for this failure—and a critical factor for success—is organizational strategy, the game plan developed by an organization and its leaders for achieving impact.
New Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management, Matthew Lee, brings to the Harvard Kennedy School his expert interest in strategic issues relevant to hybrid organizations that simultaneously pursue multiple objectives, including organization design, external evaluation, and innovation. Having studied social enterprises, impact investing, nonprofit organizations and corporate social responsibility, Lee’s teaching (and ongoing research) focuses on the social impact strategies of private, public sector, and hybrid organizations.
In his Fall Module 1 course, MLD-820M: Strategies for Social Impact, Lee and his students will investigate multiple organizations facing strategic challenges. In so doing, students will be introduced to the foundational perspectives in academic research on organizational strategy, as well as practice-oriented strategy tools and frameworks developed specifically for social impact-driven organizations.
A central theme of the course is that analysis must lead to action.
In each case and situation, there is no “right” answer, merely well-reasoned explanations for why these organizations are successful (or not), and what might work best for them going forward. The deeper goal of the course is to understand how each of these explanations work in general and to teach students how they can apply this understanding to build more competitive, more successful organizations, even in new and unfamiliar real-world situations. This ability to do so, repeatedly and with confidence, is the skill Lee says is colloquially referred to as “strategy.” Strategy has some formal foundations with recognizable links to academic fields such as microeconomics and sociology. But MLD-820M will not resemble a finance or accounting class where each new piece builds on the last in a tidy way. Instead, student learning will include both cognitive knowledge (the content in the readings and the slides) and procedural knowledge – the practical ability to take a real-world business situation and apply a variety of tools or “lenses” to make sense of it.
This course is for those interested in leading or advising organizations focused on social and environmental impact. This course will be participation-based and will include case discussions, in-class exercises, and guest speakers. Cases considered focus on non-profit organizations, social enterprises, for-profit impact-first companies such as benefit corporations, and, also, public-sector organizations.
Throughout history, Boston and Massachusetts have been progressive leaders in social change: the first public school, the Revolutionary War, the first public library, the Abolitionist Movement to eliminate slavery, Women’s Suffrage, Universal Health Care (almost), and Marriage Equality, to name of a few.
Yet, Boston has had, and continues to have, serious challenges. Today its economy is booming; some talk about this being Boston’s “Golden Age.” That said, Boston has one of the highest levels of income inequality of any city in the U.S. Its history of difficult race, ethnic, and class relations issues continue to this day.
Winship and Jackson posit that social change, for better or worse, often occurs, at least in part, because of individual or group leadership. But what makes for effective, or ineffective leadership? Is it the quality or skills of an individual? Do ethics matter? A good match between what is needed and who is in leadership? Or is it making the right strategic choices based on a thorough understanding of situation?
Answering these questions requires someone to be a good social scientist – to have a sophisticated understanding of the manifest and latent dynamics of a situation and the potential leaders within it. Importantly, different situations require different types of leadership and individuals differ in their leadership skills and resources.
Through MLD-618 students have fantastic opportunity to deeply examine local issues and actually interact with the key individuals who are, or were, the protagonists in the cases being studied.
Students can ask these special class guests how they understood the situation(s) they were in, why they made the decisions that they did, and if now, in retrospect, they would have done anything differently. A few examples of guests in the course are:
Arline Isaacson on the legislative battle for Marriage Equality in Massachusetts
The core learning goal of this course is to give students the tools to rigorously analyze and evaluate situations where leadership is an issue and social change is the goal. You will learn how to do this by using a specific framework consisting of a series of steps: analyzing a situation, determining what options are available, and then evaluating each option in term of its consequences and its ethics. In addition, many cases in the course are interrelated. What is possible to do in any situation will often be constrained by what happened in previous situation(s). It is important that the cases we examine be understood in context, not as isolated situations. The local focus on Boston as a community allows students to do this. The course also provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about Boston and its environs. Through three different trips to explore Boston: one as a class (Museum of African American History), and two on your own (The Black Heritage Trail and the Ella J. Baker House) give students concrete experience of the city in which they are studying, and to see the city as a learning laboratory.
MLD-102: Getting Things Done: Management in a Development Context taught by Matthew Andrews, Edward S. Mason Senior Lecturer in International Development, is a core, required course for the HKS MPA/ID program. It is also open for enrollment by non-MPA/ID students; permission of the instructor is not required. With a focus on developing country contexts, this course introduces students to critical concepts in organization theory, public management, and the practice of development to enable them to understand the individual, structural, and systemic underpinnings of good management and governance. The development context requires a focus on service delivery from both government and civil society (non-profits and aid agencies in cooperation with one another, and with the local government partner). Service delivery includes a wide variety of activities from education to regulatory enforcement. A critical driver of success is good management and governance, especially in the face of major resource constraints and in complex settings. Through theoretical readings, case study discussions, and simulations, students will apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations and, through simulations, experience the difficulty of managing. Building on analytical work from other courses, students will focus on such critical issues as corruption, participatory development, scaling up, social service delivery, and emergency response.
Learn more about Matt and his approach to management in a development context:
MLD-102 will be offered in two sections at Harvard Kennedy School in Fall of 2022. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.