Teaching Interest


by Nancy F. Koehn


I am currently teaching a Harvard Business School MBA elective course course called "Power and Glory in Turbulent Times: The History of Leadership from Henry V to Steve Jobs." This class, which I developed two years ago, examines the effectiveness of leaders who lived and worked in moments of widespread disruption. The course aims to understand the choices they made; including the strategies they used, the values they lived by and the tradeoffs they accepted as they created significant power in companies, communities, and nations. It also focuses on the impact, immediate and long-term, that each of these individuals had, and how this impact was related to their animating missions. Particular attention is paid to what it means to lead forcefully in times of ongoing turmoil and to the relevant lessons that these leaders offer for our own moment, in the early 21st century. Finally, the course strives to draw credible inspiration from these individuals and the contexts in which they acted. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to examine the choices each leader made, the path he or she traveled, the values and objectives he or she nurtured, and the larger stage on which that person acted. This perspective provides a broad understanding of the long-term impact of leadership and innovation on business, government, and society. The leaders studied include Shakepeare's Henry V, Winston Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, Josiah Wedgwood, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Heinz, John D. Rockefeller, Milton Hershey, Madam Walker, Estee Lauder, Gloria Steinem, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rachel Carson, Gary Hirshberg, William Tyndale, Robert Moses, Bono, Howard Schultz, Oprah Winfrey, Katherine Graham, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Ernest Shackleton.

Keywords: History of Leadership; venture capital; private equity; Effective Leadership in Turbulent Times; Emotional Experience of Leaders; Leadership; Entrepreneurship; History; Service Industry; Media and Broadcasting Industry; Health Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Fashion Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Advertising Industry; United States; Europe;