In an age of instantaneous information sharing and increased interdependence, today’sleaders must learn to work collaboratively, leveraging the strengths, skills, and experiences of those around them, in order to address the challenges they face. The Center for Collaborative Leadership is uniquely situated in the College of Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The purpose of the Center’s Emerging Leaders Program is to challenge and inspire the adult participants in the program to act collaboratively, identify and rethink boundaries, build purposeful relationships, and become better leaders and citizens. Our experience with nearly 600 participants spans 14 years. We developed a program with a unique curriculum and a specific teaching methodology as we worked with these individuals. In this brief, we reflect on how this program is changing not only the individual leaders but, as importantly, the organizations and communities to which they belong. We offer our insights on lessons learned that may be beneficial to others who teach graduate students and professionals.
In our work with adult learners we focus on the topic of leadership. Most program participants have an undergraduate degree and many have a graduate degree. Identified by their organizations as rising talent, they work with us to enhance their leadership skills. We predict that more education in the future will be addressing adult learners who need to build upon their learning; therefore, our lessons from working with these groups of individuals is important for future educational theory and practice. In addition, the wealth of experiences participants bring to the learning environment is significant and adds much to our teaching or, as we see it, guiding their learning.