Creating Future Leaders

Expert opinion

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently announced a $10 million commitment from Wharton alum Anne Welsh McNulty, which will drive the expansion and global reach of the current Wharton Leadership Program. In recognition of this transformative gift, the program has been renamed the Anne and John McNulty Leadership Program.

How do leaders best make a difference? In business and in society, we are moving away from the archetype of a dominant, authoritative leader as well as the formal hierarchies that supported and produced that traditional form of leadership.  Globalization, disruptive technologies, and a renewed focus on teams have flattened hierarchies and distributed authority throughout the enterprise.  Exploring this fundamental question has brought together the leadership development agendas of The Wharton School and the McNulty Foundation, and will guide our next phase of innovation and expansion.

At the Anne and John McNulty Leadership Program at The Wharton School, we are now building its initiatives on the premise that every individual can master the skills required for a transformative impact, whether on a company, community, or country. We believe leadership to be an action, not a destination.  It is not something to be achieved later in a career, but is rather is an opportunity and a responsibility for all of us to shoulder now.

Our approach to leadership development features three mutually-reinforcing learning strategies.  First, we create a collective framework and common vocabulary derived from decades of research.  Second, we invest in relationships and learning communities to create a network of support.  And third, we create a diverse set of stretch experiences that enable students to test and apply new skills on new teams in new environments.  It is precisely the combination of the intellectual, relational, and experiential aspects of our program that creates the potential for transformational learning and leadership development.

This approach means that students will be immersed in coursework on essential leadership skills and abilities, ranging from emotional intelligence and effective communication to strategic thinking and the exercise of influence.  Through peer relationships and sustained contact with executive coaches, students will build a personal developmental plan to strengthen their skills.  Finally, students will engage in an array of learning experiences to test and apply their skills, including mountaineering in Patagonia, serving as a nonprofit board member, and team-based firefighter training with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

Individuals who change themselves can also change the way their team looks at a problem, the way their company does business, or the way we view the world.  Leadership actions have multiplier effects that go well beyond the immediate enterprise to impact people and communities in transformational ways.

With this significant investment in our programs, the McNulty Leadership Program at Wharton will be able to expand its footprint, driving further expansion and global reach among undergraduates, MBA candidates, executives and the general public, while building on a foundation of over 20 years of innovation and impact in leadership development.

This expert opinion is tagged under:

  • Education
  • Causes
  • Inspirational donations