General Manager Leadership Program: the Cross-Functional Leader

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School


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Who should attend

The General Manager Leadership Program is designed for upper-level to senior-level executives with 10-15 years of experience who seek to advance their ability to lead across functions. This program caters to executives preparing for the role of general manager, those in the process of transitioning to this role, and general managers already serving in this function who seek to expand their skills. Participants come from all continents and represent industries including automotive, healthcare, media, and manufacturing. Their titles range from executive director to senior vice president of operations to deputy governor.

About the course

General managers face broad responsibilities that challenge even the most talented and effective executives.

The General Manager Leadership Program: The Cross-Functional Leader focuses solely on developing the precise skills new general managers need to reach the highest levels of excellence in their new role.

During the program, you discuss the role of the General Manager with peers from across the world in various industries such as finance, manufacturing, and information technology. You learn how to maximize people and resources, develop a broader understanding of integration across functions, and make accurate projections to enhance your organization's effectiveness and profitability.

Most importantly, you actively practice the skills essential to effective leadership such as questioning, listening, integrating, and communicating, and receive feedback on how to make improvements. You have the opportunity to experiment with new approaches during interactive sessions and to discuss your own professional challenges with the class and faculty. You explore how GMs utilize their emotions in business decisions, manage communications, and shift their view of the organization from working in the trenches to an overall perspective.


The program will teach you to build cooperation among departments and provide the leadership, strategy, and decision-making skills that are essential to your success as a manager. Small-group work allows you to analyze your business challenges and benefit from the insight of professional coaches and peers from around the world.

  • Gain skills needed to lead effectively across functions.
  • Increase understanding of critical functional areas.
  • Develop a customized action plan to integrate learning into practice.
  • Learn from a specialized team of faculty members, practitioners, and coaches.
  • Collaborate with a group of diverse and experienced peers.

Program Structure

Week 1: Cross-Functional Leadership

The challenge of leading organizations

  • Understand the dynamics of an organization
  • Learn how general managers can gain perspective on their organizations

Consensus and conflict-based approaches in decision making

  • Explore how conflict can impact the quality of decisions and their implementation

Experiencing groups and thinking systemically

  • Develop a deeper understanding of high-performance leaders
  • Discover how to lead people to excel

Week 2: Maximizing Performance of Individuals and Departments

  • Personal case situations and practicum in group leadership
  • Gain insight into behavior patterns that limit personal effectiveness
  • Practice putting ideas into action
  • See how accounting ratios provide valuable clues to business performance
  • Projections and cash management
  • Recognize the contrast between equity financing and debt financing
  • Gain insight into actualizing global strategy and organization development

Program Focus

  • Cross-Functional Leadership: 50%
  • Strategy: 30%
  • Personal and Professional Development: 20%


William Klepper

Professor William Klepper joined Columbia Business School in 1996 after more than 30 years as a general manager in higher education. He is a management professor who teaches executive leadership in the EMBA program and serves as the faculty director of the partnership with the Financial Times/Out...

General Manager Leadership Program: the Cross-Functional Leader at Columbia Business School

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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Because of COVID-19, many providers are cancelling or postponing in-person programs or providing online participation options.

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