Summer 2007

In Brief

Leading Through Innovation
Peer-to-Peer Leadership Training


When Emily Walling, MBA 08, received 360-degree feedback as part of the her “Leadership” core course, she discovered some of her direct reports considered her less effective as a leader because they thought she didn’t always provide them with enough direction.


So when she registered for Peers@Haas, a structured peer coaching program designed to increase students’ effectiveness as leaders by helping them make measurable, favorable changes in their behavior, she decided to work on her ability to delegate responsibility.


“I always tried,” said Walling, who is also the MBA Association vice president for communications. “But at the last minute I’d say I’ll do it myself. It’ll take longer to delegate. It was also difficult for me to trust others.”


Walling is one of 119 Full-time Berkeley MBA students who participated this year in Peers@Haas, a recent addition to the suite of experiential learning activities offered to students as part of the school’s Leading Through Innovation focus. In Peers@Haas, students select one behavior from the “Leadership Self-Analysis Plan” they developed for a fall “Leadership” core course and concentrate on changing that behavior during the 11-month program.


The students work together with a partner and also meet with six-member coaching groups at least monthly. These meetings provide the students with opportunities to receive and practice coaching. The partnerships also create accountability.


“I bet if you were to start making New Year’s resolutions within a peer coaching program that success would go way up,” says Adam Berman, BS 85, the school’s executive director of curriculum innovation. “It”s just very hard to do these things on your own.”


Students have already reaped benefits from Peers@Haas, which began in January. Jennifer Malkin, MBA 08, says her improved organizational skills have helped her resolve conflicts between personal and professional obligations. And Walling believes her peer coaching will help her maximize her leadership potential.


“I’ve been practicing delegating more, setting a clear direction for the teams with which I work with and providing clear instructions when I delegate,” Walling says. “It doesn’t do much good to delegate if those you are delegating to aren’t clear on what they are supposed to do.”


A survey of Peers@Haas participants indicates these positive experiences are no anomaly. Eighty-nine percent of participants described themselves as “extremely committed” to Peers@Haas. The school plans to expand Peers@Haas to 250 participants next year.


"In Brief" Table of Contents


Emily Walling, MBA 08

Emily Walling, MBA 08, used Peers@Haas to work on delegating tasks to her direct reports.