Leadership Development Through Technology-Enhanced Self-Assessment

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018
By Elliot Davis
Photo by iStock
Business schools are increasingly taking the opportunity to elevate leadership development by using technology to enhance self-assessment.

Advances in technology are constantly providing education providers with new options for delivering content and developing skills in their learners. Last month, we shared a variety of leadership development programs that leverage virtual reality. If you are interested in virtual reality, AACSB recently published a brief that explores the subject of virtual reality’s application to business education in more depth.

Leadership development is central to the future of business education, and is included in AACSB’s Collective Vision for Business Education as one of the five crucial opportunities for business schools to thrive. As demonstrated by the three virtual reality enhanced leadership development examples in our August Innovations That Inspire spotlight, technology certainly has a role to play in enhancing leadership-training programs in the current business school environment.

Self-reflection is often mentioned as one of the keys to being a good leader. A variety of new technologies has emerged that enable students to perform more accurate self-assessments, thus becoming more aware of their behaviors and allowing them to fine-tune their leadership skills. Following are three examples of how technology has elevated the way today’s business programs are incorporating self-reflection into leadership development.

Leadership Research & Development Unit

Technische Universität München, TUM School of Management (Germany)

Since 2017, the Leadership Research & Development Unit has served as an incubator on TUM’s campus that blends the latest insights on leadership development with digital technologies in order to create more sophisticated leadership growth opportunities in TUM’s programming. The first program the unit worked with was TUM’s EMBA offering. The leadership development program implemented experiential learning elements and reflective leadership practice through five components identified by the unit’s research.

  1. Teaching theories of effective leadership behavior in technology-enhanced classrooms with interactive smartboards and via an online learning platform that builds a community of practice and allows for discussions and learning outside the classroom.
  2. Offering interactive, online, and evidence-based leadership-style feedback based on the “Leadership Style Assessment” (Peus, Braun, & Frey, 2015).
  3. Providing practical leadership tools that allow each participant to set clear development goals in a learning application that accompanies the individual learning journey across the program.
  4. Encouraging reflective leadership practice through regular app-based exercises that allow individualized learning.
  5. Providing leadership experiences in a safe environment through role play in the form of online and virtual reality-enhanced games.

Results have shown that self-reflection is a key factor toward becoming a more effective business leader. Participants manage the implementation of new training lessons more effectively if they regularly engaged in reflection on their successes and opportunities for improvement. Data are being collected on the impact of the technology-enhanced leadership development in the EMBA.

Org Sync

Texas A&M University-Texarkana, College of Business (United States)

Texas A&M University-Texarkana began using OrgSync, a campus engagement network, in 2016. This program is designed to generate a verified record of student experiences gained outside the classroom. OrgSync produces cocurricular transcripts that document these experiences, which students may use to supplement a job application, as part of a graduate school application, or to showcase leadership experience. The college of business recognized an opportunity to use the OrgSync program beyond the scope of its original function by creating a way to facilitate communication between faculty and students regarding critical information about the students' learning experiences.

Working in collaboration with student services, the college developed a way to use this technology as a platform for collecting student reflections after engaging in experiential learning activities. After an experiential learning activity, the student receives an invitation to participate in a reflective learning survey using the OrgSync program. The survey uses five Likert-type scale questions to measure the impact the experiential learning has on critical thinking skills, communication skills, and the students' self-efficacy within the discipline of business. After completing these questions, students are presented with two open-ended questions that allow them to explain how they would apply the new knowledge in the context of their future profession.

As students participate in the reflective learning activities, they are able to synthesize and evaluate the experiential learning in a meaningful way. Additionally, faculty have access to these reflective learning contributions from their students. These metrics allow faculty to also engage in their own reflective practices and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the experiential learning activities they provide to their students.

PETAL: A Model for Principled Leader Development

The Ohio State University, Max M. Fisher College of Business (United States)

PETAL is a comprehensive, evidence-based leadership skills assessment that incorporates individualized, experiential leadership development through goal setting, educational modules, hands-on activities, and tracking to deliver meaningful leadership opportunities.

PETAL provides students access to individualized leadership development experiences through in-person and online formats. This platform houses an automated 360-degree assessment for students to evaluate their leadership skills and receive evaluations from peers, managers, and others. The platform also contains a dashboard for students to view their assessment results, set development goals, and track their development through module completion and in-person experience reflections.

PETAL offers an initial baseline assessment, videos from subject matter experts on the core components of each skill, suggested or required readings to extend content understanding, a leadership simulation to apply the specific skill and receive feedback, and a concluding assessment to measure the student’s competency. Pre-programmed messages are available to push to students’ devices to encourage them to complete modules, levels, or other certifications, as well as to send other leadership content. PETAL offers students a development experience to build their leadership skills, summarize their growth, and translate their accomplishments to an externally relevant report for prospective employers or graduate programs to access.

About Innovations That Inspire

With over 100 submissions from 25 countries and territories, the 2018 Innovations That Inspire collection illustrates business education’s commitment to being at the forefront on leadership development. Thirty of these innovations were featured at AACSB’s 2018 Deans Conference and are available for public browsing. The complete collection of Innovations That Inspire, including the 2016 and 2017 collections, can be found using AACSB’s DataDirect database.

Elliot Davis
Director of Data Strategy, AACSB International
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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