“Research on leadership and the application of leadership go hand in hand.” That’s the philosophy of Don Conlon, Gambrel Family Endowed Professor of Management and Department Chairperson at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, home of the Master of Science in Management, Strategy and Leadership program.
“Making sure people understand what the latest research and thought leadership is in management topics is going to prepare the leader to communicate that at work, and it’s going to make would-be leaders more successful in what they’re doing on the way up,” he says of MSU’s leadership research in action.
MSU’s online M.S. in Management, Strategy and Leadership program is preparing tomorrow’s leaders through forward-thinking, industry-driven research by Conlon and fellow faculty who are actively building bridges between the academic research of leadership and application in the professional workplace.
With an extensive research background in the areas of organizational behavior and negotiation/dispute resolution, Conlon recognizes some of the biggest trends and shifts happening in the workplace, from effectively leading multigenerational, multicultural and even remote teams, to “the changing nature of work itself.”
One of the greatest changes happening in the workplace is the growing acceptance of remote work and its impact on how leaders manage their teams when they’re not in the same building or even the same time zone.
“It can be easy to be a leader when you’ve got everybody in that same place, same time. But that’s not the case at work very much anymore and it’s not the case in the MSL program,” explains Conlon. “I think the very structure of the program helps equip managers to do what they need to do. You have to influence other people, the other students, maybe sometimes the faculty. And you have to do this from a distance. You’re not all in the same place at the same time.”
Conlon sees that ability to successfully influence peers and superiors, regardless of medium or location, as honing and applying valuable leadership communication skills. It’s also research in action on one of the biggest trends in the areas of negotiation and dispute resolution: “The communication medium can make such a difference. The real trick is you can’t always get together face to face, so how do you leverage the context, whether you Skype or whether you phone, however you’re communicating in negotiation?”
In the program’s Negotiations course, students are tasked with just that: “The faculty member is pairing up students or student teams to negotiate with each other. It could be across time zones. It’s certainly different geographic areas,” says Conlon.
It’s then up to the students to transcend these challenges of space, time, and medium to undertake a successful negotiation preparation and simulation—with the support of passionate, invested faculty.
“You really are getting some of the top research minds in the world,” Conlon says of the M.S. in Management, Strategy and Leadership program faculty. “The best researchers at MSU are usually the best teachers in the classroom because they’re so enthusiastic.”
The opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty who are genuinely excited to share and apply research discoveries with their students, as well as network and collaborate in an online community of fellow leaders, sets the M.S. in Management, Strategy and Leadership program apart.
To those future leaders considering applying to the program, Don Conlon has three words of advice: “Just do it.”