Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School


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Who should attend

The Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change program is designed for middle- to upper-level executives who are looking to develop their leadership abilities and expand their impact and influence.

About the course

The research and evidence is clear: inclusive leaders and inclusive organizations outperform those that are not, yet women remain underrepresented in all levels of management. This program, offered in partnership with the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, is designed to help elevate the impact of women leaders – enabling them to navigate the business landscape, develop and leverage their talents, and step into roles of greater influence.

Despite the compelling case for equality of gender representation at all levels of an organization, even with the best of intentions, unconscious bias can distort critical decisions influencing who moves ahead within an organization. During Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change, participants will learn time-tested techniques and practical ideas which women can apply immediately to their career and that can help combat these performance-limiting biases. Get ready to be inspired, network with likeminded colleagues, and learn applicable skills for an immediate impact on your career and your organization.

Professor Rita McGrath, a globally recognized expert on management and strategy and Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty director, will be joined by faculty from The Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, a think-tank dedicated to women’s advancement around the globe. Along with certified leadership coaches focused on women’s advancement, this innovative partnership program will provide participants with the knowledge, skills, tools and real-time problem-solving needed to further the advancement of women in leadership roles.


The Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change program prepares participants to expand their influence and advance their leadership. Participants become more affirmed of their personal leadership identity and committed to the changes they will affect in their work and workplace.

During this three-day program, you will learn how to:

  • Articulate your vision and your action plan for personal leadership
  • Advocate for yourself, your team, and your collective ideas
  • Establish strategic networks and leverage them in your career
  • Engage supporters through compelling communications
  • Overcome challenges to your visibility and authority
  • Negotiate favorable outcomes and manage conflict

360 Assessment Tool

The program starts with a comprehensive assessment of your leadership competencies, including critical skills like situational adaptability, strategic mindset, building teams, driving a vision, managing complexity, innovation, and building collaborative relationships and networks.

Feedback from your managers, peers, or direct reports helps you understand the value you bring to your organization, the strengths and talents you are respected for, and areas you can focus on to take your leadership skills to the next level.

Before the program, you will receive a personal coaching session to help you make sense of the report, allowing you to reflect on your assessment before jumpstarting your thinking and development at the program.

Program Structure

The Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change program uses a combination of online tools, interactive lectures, inspirational talks, and workshop exercises for individuals and groups. Sessions taught by Columbia Business School and Barnard College professors, women’s leadership practitioners and business leaders are supplemented by sessions with executive coaches and colleagues from various fields and industries.

The weeks leading up to the program will help participants frame their personal goals for participation in the course, connect participants with each other and with their coaches, and solicit participant input to be used throughout the program with various online activities.

Participants should budget five to six hours of preparation for the program, including a one-on-one executive coaching session prior to the start date. Program participation also includes a group coaching session after the program.

Day 1 focuses on crystallizing your goals and cultivating the supporters you need to realize your ambitions, including:

Identifying and developing your:

  • leadership identity
  • personal brand in the workplace
  • motivations, values, and strengths
  • vision statement for your leadership
  • personal positioning statement

    • Evaluating your formal and informal networks to identify the strengths of your network and individuals who can become supporters of your mission.
    • Learning strategies for advocating for yourself and gaining visibility for your accomplishments

Day 2 focuses on interactions with others and communicating effectively, including:

Effective and productive communication tactics in an array of contexts:

  • informal
  • formal
  • when the stakes are high

    • The importance of story-telling to enlist supporters and facilitate decision-making
    • Strategies and techniques for making your voice heard in challenging situations.
    • Specific approaches for overcoming obstacles in conflict situations and managing negotiations to a beneficial outcome.

Day 3 will equip you to create a new future – from envisioning new strategies to driving change in your organization, specifically:

  • Visioning skills required to identify and pursue opportunities beyond your to-do list and to alert others to new possibilities
  • Assessing your level of comfort in taking risks
  • Adopting a new framework for thinking about risk, uncertainty, and failure
  • Applying these new learnings to the opportunity to advance women’s leadership in your workplace and develop strategies to make that happen.


Rita McGrath

Rita Gunther McGrath, a Professor at Columbia Business School, is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on strategy and innovation with particular emphasis on developing sound strategy in uncertain and volatile environments. Her ideas are widely used by leading organizations throughout the w...

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Women in Leadership: Expanding Influence and Leading Change at Columbia Business School

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