Leadership from Day One

New Integral Leadership Development program devotes entire first week of MBA to leadership

Anyone who chooses the Notre Dame MBA expects to be deeply changed — by internalizing values, gaining useful understanding of strengths and passions, and, especially, discovering a sense of purposeful leadership.

Now, these changes begin immediately and intensely during the first week on campus through the new Integral Leadership Development (ILD) program.

“We wanted ILD to be our candidates’ first exposure to Notre Dame so that it sets the tone for their experience here,” said Mary Goss, senior director of Graduate Business Programs. “Values-based leadership defines Notre Dame. That’s why individuals choose us. We wanted them to experience that — and even struggle with it — from Day One.

“They have the advantage of entering into their classes with a deep level of self-awareness,” Goss added. “And that is the basis for leadership.”

The foundation for ILD is rigorous, quantitatively backed self-examination. Under the guidance of regarded business strategists, candidates spend five days participating in individual and group assignments to help them discern their most important values, strengths and weaknesses — a process that proved to be unexpectedly challenging.

And obviously rewarding. The MBA Class of 2018 is the first to complete the program this fall.

Afterward, 97 percent of surveyed students ranked the program’s effectiveness very good or excellent.

“This program definitely established a mindset I will carry on beyond our time in the MBA program,” one student wrote. 

“It was great to get a hard look in the mirror prior to starting the MBA experience,” another candidate wrote. “I felt expertly led through very valuable material.”

The curriculum for the Integral Leadership Development program has its roots in two established executive programs at Notre Dame: Executive Integral Leadership and Unleashing Your Leadership Potential. ILD facilitators — Stacy Jackson, Leslie Marquard, Bob Anderson and Marti Peden — are all longtime adjunct professors in those executive programs.

The facilitators led candidates through a range of experiences, assignments and topics throughout the week — a solitary reflection on leadership and purpose; an intense examination of each person’s guiding values with end results that surprised most candidates; an introduction to the Leadership Circle, a self-assessment tool; and a frank, accessible examination of conflict in the workplace and a leader’s role in navigating it.

A previous class of MBA students played a role in the development of the ILD program by insisting it would be most valuable at the beginning of the program. MBA alumni sponsored ILD through the John Cardinal O’Hara Giving Society for graduate business alumni.

Overall, the ILD program was a great start to his MBA experience, said Tom Jones, an MBA candidate, Army veteran and West Point graduate. “ILD is helping us gauge how to personify leadership and how can we get better,” he said.

“I think it’s brilliant, it’s real, it’s in action. Notre Dame is doing it up front, and they’re very deliberate about it so I’m extremely excited to move on from here.”