General Management Program
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As global business challenges become more complex, companies are turning to exceptional general managers who can take on greater cross-functional responsibilities and contribute to corporate growth on a more strategic level. Moving beyond your field of expertise, however, can take years of on-the-job training. The General Management Program (GMP) at Harvard Business School (HBS) is designed to help you accelerate this leadership transformation and play a greater and more strategic role in your company's success. Through a unique modular format that blends personalized learning on campus with practical application on the job, GMP minimizes your time away from work and maximizes your learning investment. Working with the HBS faculty, a diverse group of senior executives, and a personal leadership coach, you will expand your leadership skills, mindset, and network—and emerge with a personal action plan for taking your career and your company to a new level of performance.
What You Can Expect
In the early phases of their careers, most executives achieve success by continually refining their expertise in one particular field. At some point, however, they face a difficult challenge: transforming themselves into exceptional cross-functional leaders who can integrate all disciplines and align all activities to achieve the organization's long-range strategic goals.
This personal growth process involves moving beyond one area of expertise to embrace a multifunctional view of the organization—mastering new leadership skills, adopting a broader business perspective, and crafting a strategy that drives organizational results. If this transformation is left to on-the-job training, it can take years to complete—and can have a long-term impact on the company's future performance.
GMP accelerates the transition from senior executive to cross-functional leader by concentrating on two key areas—diagnosis and action. After identifying your strengths and weaknesses through 360-degree leadership assessments, you will work closely with a personal leadership coach to craft a strategy statement that addresses a specific challenge confronting your organization. Based on feedback from your peers, boss, and team, you will refine your competitive strategy and customized case study, develop a short presentation, and create a personal action plan to immediately implement back at your company.
This intensive program is designed to help you build strong teams, anticipate and respond to competitive threats, and contribute to your company's growth on a more strategic and senior level. At the same time, GMP challenges you to rethink and redefine your leadership mindset and strategic approach. By exploring the practices of business leaders around the world and engaging in guided reflection on your own leadership approach, you will expand your knowledge, insight, and skills along many dimensions.
You Course of Study
The General Management Program is designed to help senior executives accelerate the demanding process of becoming an outstanding general manager. Blending practical knowledge with personalized learning, GMP provides a more integrated and multidisciplinary view of strategy, leadership, and the organization. By exploring the best practices of global business leaders, you will learn how to anticipate and respond to competitive threats and contribute to your company's growth on a more strategic and senior level.
Harvard Business School has carefully designed an action-oriented program format that maximizes learning while requiring just seven weeks away from the office over the course of four months. Taught in a series of four highly integrated modules, this "learn-apply-refine" approach to leadership helps organizations prepare senior executives for the challenges ahead while they continue in their current roles.
GMP is composed of two on-campus and two distance-learning modules presented over four months, with seven weeks of study on the HBS campus. Between modules, you will apply what you’ve learned, work on your customized case study, and engage in interactive online sessions. In the process, you’ll develop a multidisciplinary perspective that enables you to analyze key value drivers, build strong cross-functional teams, and capitalize on emerging opportunities.
Each full-time and highly focused distance-learning module allows you to return to your office and apply the new approaches, frameworks, and tools you have acquired, and further refine your skills via interactive online sessions and feedback from colleagues in your workplace. Back on campus, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your experience, bring insights back to the classroom, and receive new feedback from faculty, an elite and diverse group of peers, and your personal leadership coach.
Module 1: Building Foundational Skills
FORMAT: DISTANCE LEARNING
Given the intensive and rigorous structure of the program, all participants must have a basic knowledge of core competencies and a common understanding of terminology. Before you set foot on the HBS campus, you will complete a set of online, print, and audio materials that provides a solid foundation in financial management, strategy formulation, and accounting, while introducing you to the HBS learning environment. Depending on your background and your knowledge of these topics, the skill-building effort in Module 1 should require approximately 12 to 15 hours of self-directed work per week for the weeks leading up to Module 2. The goal: to ensure that you arrive on campus ready to learn.
Module 2: Sharpening Diagnostic Skills
FORMAT: ON-CAMPUS LEARNING AT HBS (4 WEEKS)
The first on-campus module builds a deeper understanding of the general manager's cross-functional role, with particular emphasis on the typical challenges facing a business-unit leader: setting the strategy, aligning the organization, understanding the economics and key value drivers, and exploiting new opportunities in both good and bad economies. In addition to working with your personal coach, you will give and receive feedback in a group setting.
As you explore the importance of authentic leadership, you will determine what constitutes your personal leadership core. In the process, you will acquire critical analytical skills and frameworks in three core areas—financial management, human resources management, and strategy formulation. You also will develop a deeper understanding of accounting, marketing, operations, and negotiations.
While the objective is to develop working knowledge in each of these functional domains, the program employs a highly integrated approach, with case studies analyzing cross-functional problems that require comprehensive, long-term action plans. Since general managers must view current challenges and emerging opportunities through a broader lens, this module takes on an increasingly wider perspective each week.
During Module 2, you will engage in a customized exercise based on a challenge facing you and your organization. First, you will formulate a personal strategy statement to help you set the direction that you want your company to take and then develop a short presentation. This exercise will help you to gain a better understanding of your industry and your company's competitive position, articulate your strategy to peers, engage in open feedback to improve it, and align activities that support your competitive advantage. Your personal strategy statement will evolve into a personal action plan in Modules 3 and 4.
Module 3: Applying the Knowledge
FORMAT: DISTANCE LEARNING
Back at your company, you will apply new management concepts and strategic tools to your current leadership challenges. You also will complete some self-directed work at your own pace.
During Module 3, you will complete the Emotional Intelligence Survey and receive 360-degree feedback from your peers and boss. Through a Cultural Intelligence Assessment, you will improve how you communicate and manage in diverse global environments.
Building upon your personal strategy statement, you will develop a personal action plan for addressing the key leadership challenges facing you and your company. This will compel you to apply your learning in the workplace and to consult with team members and supervisors as you ask and answer key questions: What resources will I need to implement this strategy? What challenges should I expect? How can I better drive this change?
You also will take part in a customized case study exercise on a leadership challenge related to implementing your chosen strategy. This exercise is designed to spur self-reflection, peer-to-peer dialogue, and input from your personal coach and living group. It also will help you determine how to put your personal strategy statement into action. During this exercise, you will focus on three key questions: What are my leadership objectives? What do I need to know to achieve them? How can I learn what I need to know?
Then, you will begin to build a GMP network of advisers by adopting a peer coaching/advising model and capitalizing on relevant experience inside your living group. Before beginning Module 4, you will share your personal strategy statement and customized case study with your boss and team and gather their feedback.
EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO HBS RESOURCES
Throughout GMP, you will have exclusive access to the School's unparalleled resources. Module 3 presents the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the proprietary HBS website, "Transition to General Management," which features video clips from HBS alumni who have recently moved into general management positions. These videos highlight the critical issues that managers often encounter when moving from functional to general management responsibilities, and provide the "rules of the road" for general managers exploring their new roles.
In addition, you will have access to the vast resources of Baker Library/Bloomberg Center—the world's largest business archives—and a wealth of materials from Harvard Business Review. You may call on these resources to extend your case study learning and to investigate specific topics of personal and professional importance that have not been covered in the program. "Idiosyncratic" learning is a key component of GMP, and these resources, in conjunction with your workplace experience, will help you identify new learning objectives to pursue when you return to the HBS campus.
Module 4: Action-Oriented Leadership
FORMAT: ON-CAMPUS LEARNING AT HBS (3 WEEKS)
Empowered with a broader understanding of your role as a general manager and the cross-functional structure of your organization, you will return to campus ready to tackle new challenges, expand your strategic vision, and refine your personal action plan. Serving as the capstone of GMP, this three-week module provides an in-depth examination of leadership in action. As you develop greater self-awareness, you will understand what it truly means to be an agent of organizational change.
During Module 4, you will discover how to lead in turbulent and uncertain environments, drive fundamental change across the organization, and achieve your company's long-term objectives. Special sessions with HBS thought leaders and industry guest speakers will offer insights into positioning your company for success in today's global economy. While analyzing the ethical, motivational, and performance challenges associated with leadership, you will develop the skills to capitalize on evolving technology and globalization. Against this backdrop, you will apply your newfound knowledge and self-awareness as you finalize your personal action plan and develop a detailed implementation plan.
At the same time, you will continue the process of personal transformation through self-reflection. You will explore new ways to analyze problems, define your personal leadership style, and contribute to the success of your organization. Working through the results of your Emotional Intelligence Survey with your personal coach, you will evaluate your leadership abilities, identify areas for improvement, and discover how to harness your leadership strengths to achieve your company’s strategic goals.
As in Module 2, each week of Module 4 features a specific theme related to leadership. You will present your customized case study to your living group and participate in a facilitated discussion led by an HBS faculty member. With guidance and feedback from your personal coach, you will take part in a full-day workshop on executive presence designed to improve your image, confidence, and performance as a leader. Through a series of reentry exercises, you will prepare to transition from the HBS campus to your frontline leadership position.
HBS Alumni Status and Lifelong Learning
Upon completing GMP, you will become a lifetime member of the HBS alumni community—an elite group of global executives who span functions, industries, and countries. You will begin the process of lifelong learning, with exclusive access to a wide array of resources, including:
- HBS alumni clubs and associations
- Baker Library/Bloomberg Center services
- The HBS Publishing Alumni Plus Program
- A 30-percent discount on our open-enrollment programs
- Harvard Manage Mentor®
- A lifelong HBS email forwarding address
- HBS career and professional development services
- GMP Highlights
Each living group works with a professional coach to focus on group dynamics. Coaching takes place on a personal level as well. Through the Cultural Intelligence Assessment, Emotional Intelligence Survey, and 360-degree feedback tool, participants work individually with their coaches. A special "acceleration day" spurs participants to outline their personal goals and expectations.
RENOWNED CASE STUDY METHOD
Pioneered by HBS, the case method engages you in a highly stimulating, collaborative process of identifying relevant issues and applying practical business lessons to your own situation and organization. You will benefit from an added dimension that no other business school can offer—the opportunity to be taught by many of the faculty who wrote the cases and have firsthand insights into the protagonists and the outcomes.
PERSONAL STRATEGY STATEMENT AND CUSTOMIZED CASE STUDY
During Module 2, you will develop a personal strategy statement that outlines a comprehensive solution to a fundamental challenge in your organization and develop a short presentation on setting the direction of your company. Back at your company for Module 3, you will share your personal strategy statement and customized case study with your boss and team, gather their feedback, and work on your personal action plan. During Module 4, you will gain valuable feedback from your peers, living group, and personal coach as you finalize your personal action plan and develop a detailed implementation plan.
POWERFUL LINEUP OF FACULTY AND INDUSTRY GUEST SPEAKERS
HBS faculty members have longstanding relationships with some of the world's most renowned business leaders—and many are invited to speak at GMP. These inspiring sessions, often considered once-in-a-lifetime highlights, deepen the learning experience and give you firsthand insights into how top executives have overcome critical business challenges. Other special sessions explore how authentic leaders create value and how to develop your own leadership core. During on-site tours of innovative local companies, you will gain further insights into how business leaders are tackling complex management challenges.
THE GMP NETWORK
Upon completing GMP, you will become a lifetime member of the HBS alumni community with exclusive access to our vast global alumni network and an array of resources that facilitate lifelong learning, growth, and success. In addition to your GMP classmates, you will have access to the broader HBS network—more than 80,000 MBA and Executive Education alumni in 167 countries. The proprietary HBS alumni website is searchable by name, industry, company, region, and other criteria. A lifelong HBS email forwarding address links each GMP graduate to this powerful global network. What's more, the GMP alumni website keeps you connected with your peers worldwide via webinars, renewal programs, and GMP reunions. It also offers support tools, resources, and videos of executive guest speakers.
Who should attend
This leadership development program is designed for executives with recently acquired or significantly expanded general management responsibilities. It also is appropriate for experienced functional leaders who have important cross-functional or cross-organizational responsibilities, who need a broader perspective on company operations, or who will soon become business-unit, divisional, or regional leaders. Executives who need to develop a more comprehensive, integrated perspective and to sharpen strategic, financial, and leadership skills will benefit most from this program. Most participants come from organizations with annual revenues in excess of $100 million, and have at least 15 to 20 years of work experience.
Ideal candidates include:
- General managers (deputy, assistant, or divisional)
- Senior vice presidents or vice presidents (divisional, regional, or corporate)
- Directors (executive, managing, or divisional)
- Heads (business unit or divisional)