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Leadership in Practice

Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2023
Dr. Oliver Fischer
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Leadership in Practice investigates key dimensions of leadership, including personal, situational and contextual determinants of leadership success.

Starting with approaches that focus on the individual, a discussion of Great Man and Trait Theories of leadership elaborates how human beings tend to focus on the individual leader, which is reflected in the person centric perspective on leadership. We discuss perceptual biases that lead to a potential overestimation of the personal dimension in others, followed by a process of reflection on personality characteristics. This conversation draws on a discourse on projective and objective personality tests, leading to a detailed analysis of the NEO/ Big 5 model. All participants take a test that builds on the NEO. Test results are then used to explore all factors, and selected facets, in small groups. The purpose of this discussion is to establish an awareness of individual behavioural preferences, and the fact that these vary with personality. From the individual dimension, we move on to discuss team personality, and the risks and opportunities that come with homogeneous vs. heterogeneous teams.

The second module elaborates on behavioural and contingency models of leadership (esp. Lewin, Ohio).

Starting with an investigation of how specific leadership behaviours can be clustered, and with which consequences these behaviours tend to have in followers concerning social and task-related factors, we move on to models that take into account the situation. The models we focus on in particular are a) Fiedler’s contingency model of situational favourableness, and b) Hersey & Blanchard’s model of follower maturity. We then move on to discuss personal and contextual determinants of leader charisma, with a particular emphasis on social identity and social categorisation.

The third module is dedicated exclusively to Heifetz’ theory of adaptive leadership.

In addition to a written examination, students showcase their understanding of the material by delivering a presentation of a published case study that focuses on leadership in the digital age.

Date Time
Friday, 17.03.2023 11:30 - 18:45
Saturday, 25.03.2023 09:45 - 13:00
Friday, 14.04.2023 13:45 - 20:30
Saturday, 15.04.2023 09:45 - 18:45
Pre-reading of lecture materials is not required; a case will be handed out
Written exam
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