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Leadership training in the post-pandemic world

The pandemic changed a lot about daily living, including what we expect from and strive for as leaders.


BCBusiness University Canada West

Credit: University Canada West

While the concept of leadership itself has thousands of definitions, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed not only what employees expect from a leader but how post-secondary institutions teach the next generation of leaders.

“What we are seeing is a new definition of what employees want from a leader or manager,” says Dr. Eli Sopow, who teaches Leadership and Change Management in University Canada West’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

He says that certain leadership aspects, like communication skills, have become more important than before the pandemic.

“What we’re seeing that’s being used by many corporations now is embracing employees in a more collaborative way… not so much a focus on individual leadership but on group leadership and team leadership,” Dr. Sopow says. 

The change in expectations for leaders has trickled down into the classroom, where the leaders of tomorrow are honing their skills.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we teach in every course, including leadership,” says Dr. Min Kay, who teaches Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour courses in the MBA program at UCW. “I think the most intrinsic change has been integrating more compassion and empathy into class.”

Dr. Kay says he saw the pandemic as an opportunity to model a supportive leadership style by showing more concern and care for his students—making more accommodations, having more office hours and taking the time to remember a personal tidbit about every student. As a result, he says, students were more engaged, and he received positive feedback.

“Students learned the importance of supportive leadership through observation rather than lecture, and hopefully the lesson carried over to their work,” he says.

Dr. Sopow says the COVID-19 pandemic has given students and educators “a beautiful example of things that went right and very wrong with leadership, the types of leadership that were used and the ability of those leaders to communicate effectively.”

He says many of those examples find their way into the classroom, where students typically spend the first hour of class learning the theory before breaking into teams to roll up their sleeves and apply what they have learned to tackling real-world leadership scenarios.

“I’m a firm believer in learning by doing,” Dr. Kay says. “So, I use various case studies and role-playing exercises that are designed to help students experience different styles of leadership in various business contexts, and I found that doing these exercises helps immensely in finding the one that suits their personal preferences.”

University Canada West’s MBA program, which is offered both on-campus and online, has Global Business Accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and National Committee for Management Accreditation (NCMA) accreditation from CIM | Chartered Managers Canada, prepares students to be the leaders of tomorrow. It develops core competencies in critical thinking, system analysis, leadership and business ethics. Students learn how to become effective leaders, nationally and internationally, and drive the success of any organization through intelligent decision-making.

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with University Canada West