MBA Program

How Does our Past Influence our Future as Business Leaders?

If you had to choose one core value that defines your leadership style, what would it be? Respect? Courage? Integrity? What about wisdom, responsibility, influence, security, or honesty? The list is endless. We all have leadership values that we strive to uphold, but what about that one fundamental belief that has made you who you are today. Now, that’s a different story altogether.


Throughout the MBA program at WHU, students embark on a personal development journey, and the Leadership Credo is the final achievement. Credo means belief in Latin, and as the capstone of their personal development, our students dig deep to uncover how their past has influenced their leadership style of today.

Brought to WHU by Professor Dr. Jürgen Weigand, the Leadership Credo is a crucial element in the final shaping of our MBA future leaders. “The Leadership Credo is the capstone of the leadership and personal development journey in the MBA program. In essence, the Leadership Credo is about sharing with your peers who you are as a person, what you stand for, and what your core principle of leadership is", explains Professor Weigand.

During individual coaching sessions, Professor Weigand and Daniel Weninger (MBA coach, entrepreneur and WHU MBA alumnus) summarize which leadership principles the students can follow in their professional career after the MBA. These principles are based on the personal background of the students, as well as their professional journey before the MBA. Throughout the MBA at WHU, these principles are shaped with group work, 360-degree feedback sessions, individual personal development coaching, as well as experimental learning elements and topical lectures in the field of leadership.

Armed with this coaching, students then delve into their past, finding the personal stories that shape their leadership principles. Through storytelling methods, each student presents their credo to the rest of the class. The idea is not to convince or persuade, but to paint a picture that deeply communicates each personal experience to the group. We spoke to Part-Time MBA students Brenda. Angelica and Michael to hear about their experience of the Leadership Credo.

Michael Hakenes Credo Experience | Part-Time MBA Class of 2018

"For me, the leadership credo was special, intense, and inspiring. Listening to each credo made me realize that everyone has a unique story to tell. Having studied with my classmates for nearly 18 months, I thought I knew everyone well, but everyone surprised with a special signature in their credo. Despite being nervous initially, I realized quickly that everyone was listening to what I had to say – it was even a relief opening up in front of my class. I am happy to have spent the past 18 months with such inspiring people.

When preparing my credo, I reflected on the time spent at WHU – personal discussions about leadership, examples of good and bad leadership, case studies. Working through those memories made me realize how much we’ve all grown during the past 18 months, and at the credo it was really clear to see that transition.

I am now able to articulate the values I intend to demonstrate as a leader. It isn’t just a piece of paper, but is a part of me and will continue to help me reflect on my own values and guide my actions in tough situations.

Leadership is not a rank – keeping the credos in my mind, I have a good understanding of what makes a good leader and I am optimistic that I can practice everything I learned during our leadership sessions at WHU."

Brenda Mogoase Credo Experience | Part-Time MBA Class of 2018

"The leadership credo ensures we have learned the technicalities of being a leader, and more so giving us time to reflect on what kind leaders we want to be. It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, to think about what is important as a leader and to revisit if we even want to be leaders or managers. 

The credo is different from our usual tasks in that it was not about being the smartest or brightest student, but it was about what each of us personally believe in and what values as a leader we want to be known for, and exert to those we lead.

As the exercise progressed, I shifted away from judging people without knowing their roots or what really matters to them. To be open in front of my peers is not something I do regularly – it took a great amount of courage, and I am so happy I took the challenge as it taught me more about myself. The atmosphere of the event was warm enough to encourage us all to open up without fear of being ridiculed, and as a result, I now know my peers on a different level.

As business leaders, we often lead from the KPI and task point of view, and not from the heart. A credo is something that will ground you and always remind you about the “why”. I will now approach leadership with authenticity and acknowledgement of those around me – every action I take will affect the people I lead, as well as myself.”

Angelica Timofte Credo Experience | Part-Time MBA Class of 2018

"Leadership is at the core of WHU's MBA Program, but it is much more difficult to grasp compared to other subjects. The credo has exactly the role of helping you reflect and internalize your core leadership values together with what you have learned during the program.

People might think that the credo is about speaking on a stage in front of your class, but in reality, 99% of the process is completed before you step on the stage. It is a journey of getting to know yourself and what you stand for, which sounds easier said than done.  

The energy created during the two days was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. The emotions and courage to share such inspiring stories by each and every one will stay with me long after completing the MBA.

The Leadership Credo drives a certain openness and vulnerability, which can be uncomfortable for some personalities. A good leader needs to go through this self-discovery process because in the end, leadership is about people. Having the courage to open up in front of others definitely shows good character of a leader, and I see it as a mandatory component for success."

Shape your future in April 2019