Authentic Leadership Development - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Authentic Leadership Development

Course Number 2090

Professor of Management Practice Tom DeLong
Senior Lecturer Scott Snook
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
25 sessions
Senior Lecturer Scott Snook
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
25 Sessions
Enrollment: Limited to 66 students per section

Course Purpose

The purpose of Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) is to enable students to develop themselves as leaders of organizations and to embark on paths of personal leadership development. ALD requires personal curiosity and reflection from students and personal openness and sharing in class discussions, leadership discussion groups, and one-on-sessions with peer mentors and the professor. Leadership development concepts used in the course will be immediately applicable for students and useful for the rest of their lives.


  1. To enable students to understand their leadership journeys and their crucibles through framing their life stories and experiences to date.
  2. To understand why leaders lose their way and the self-awareness needed to avoid derailment.
  3. To gain clarity about their leadership principles, values, and ethical boundaries, and how they will respond under pressure when severely challenged.
  4. To understand what is motivating them, both extrinsically and intrinsically, and to find leadership paths that will enable them to utilize their motivated capabilities.
  5. To explore how to build support teams and lead an integrated life.
  6. To understand the purpose of their leadership and to create a Personal Leadership Development Plan to guide them throughout their lives.

Intellectual Premise and Course Concepts

The premise of ALD is that leaders who know themselves well and consciously develop their leadership abilities throughout their lifetimes will be more effective and successful leaders and will lead more satisfying and fulfilling lives. To do so, leaders must take responsibility for their own development, rather than relying on their companies for development.

ALD will provide students with frameworks, techniques, and tools to assist in their leadership development journeys, exploring concepts such as lifelong leadership development, the power of leadership crucibles, discovering your authentic self, knowing your principles, values and ethical boundaries, building authentic relationships and support teams, leadership style and power, integrated leadership, and purpose-driven leadership.

Who Should Take This Course

ALD is designed for students desirous of becoming authentic and effective leaders, committed to developing themselves, and who want to understand their motivations and the purpose of their leadership. Students must be open to sharing their personal insights, experiences, ambitions, and fears..

Course Format

ALD students will meet each week, once for eighty minutes with the full class, and later that afternoon for 120 minutes with their six-person Leadership Development Group. Class sessions are built around a series of cases written specifically for this course, including established leaders and younger leaders, as well as leadership readings and outside class speakers.


  • Weekly individual assignments on personal subjects related to the week's theme.
  • One 80-minute class each week for twelve weeks. (Note: all sections will hold 80 minute class sessions, even if slated for the new 1:15 PM time slot.)
  • One two-hour meeting with the six-person Leadership Development Group (LDG) for twelve weeks from 3:30-5:30 pm covering assigned topics with rotating facilitators drawn from the group. Groups will be assigned in advance by the professor with a goal to maximize diversity.
  • Each of the four sections will be limited to 66 students in order to facilitate open dialogue.
  • In lieu of an exam, students will write a one-page reflection paper, a mid-term paper on the greatest crucible of their leadership journeys, and a final paper on the purpose of their leadership, as well as develop a Personal Leadership Development Plan.

Course Topics

Discover Your Authentic Leadership * Your Journey to Authentic Leadership * Why Leaders Lose Their Way * Crucibles of Leadership * Discovering Your Authentic Self * Values, Leadership Principles and Ethical Boundaries * Motivations and Motivated Capabilities * Building Your Support Team * Leading an Integrated Life * Leadership Purpose and Legacy * Empowering Other Leaders * Optimizing Your Leadership Effectiveness