Mental and physical challenges in an unfamiliar environment with a brand-new team taught the second-year students in the Professional MBA Class of 2019 at Mays Business School about leading. The experience was part of their “Leadership and Professional Development Course” on May 5 at the Corps of Cadets Leader Reaction Course (LRC) at Texas A&M University.

The goal for the Mays group’s LRC event was for students to experience leadership, make quick decisions, communicate thoroughly, express adaptability and use teamwork – all in a new environment under time pressure with limited resources. Through the obstacles and experiences the students were able to build their leadership skills and confidence and team.

Zach Majzun, Professional MBA Class of 2018, wrote the curriculum and led much of the day using his knowledge of LRCs in both military and civilian training job to best fit the Mays Professional MBAs learning objectives. The objectives included: experiencing a high-pressure leadership situation, using and learning a straightforward task leadership framework, and exposing students to teamwork within a new environment.

Student reflections

Students who participated said they learned a lot from the day and enjoyed the camaraderie and the outside-the-classroom experience.

Adam Krupa, Professional MBA class of 2019, said the LRC was “an excellent way to jump-start the second year of the PMBA and relationships with new teammates.” He added: “The format forced us all into time-pressured leadership positions with unfamiliar challenges and no time to prepare. Through the support of our new teams and the alumni facilitators we overcame many of the challenges and, most importantly, found out a lot about ourselves as leaders.”

Forrest Robinson, class of 2019, said he learned that to become the leader he wants to be, he must first surrender. “Leadership is not about me…just the opposite. It’s about yielding to my own desires or preconceived notions of authority and focusing on people. It’s about putting others’ best interests before my own. That could include an MBA group, a team at work, family members, or simply others watching from a distance,” he said.

To lead implies there must be others to follow, he added. “We often are led to believe leadership requires completion of a measurable objective.  I disagree. Leadership is about inspiring others. Inspiring others can be accomplished through many different styles. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to leading effectively. A leader must adapt. Sometimes that means taking a step back and eliciting the input of others. Sometimes it means leading by example from the front. But the common thread present in all situations is a leader’s influence on others. And to be impactful, a leader must put others first by surrendering their own desires.”

Nerien Bermudez Negron said she has participated in several leadership courses, but nothing as complete as the LRC.

“The course puts you in a position where you learn what type of leader and teammate you can be,” she said. “One of my key takeaways was the importance of not assuming that people understand what you are trying to communicate. It is not only how you communicate, but also how others perceive the information.”

During one particular task, she said she and her team faced a communication problem. “At the moment, I was frustrated with the outcome. But the reality is that particular course was the most valuable of all.”

Bermudez Negron said she enjoyed having former students act as facilitators. “First, they have nothing to do with your grade, so that takes the stress out of the equation. Second, they are close enough in career paths that they can relate to you. They have a sense of what you are going through.”

Michael Alexander, director and lecturer in the Professional MBA program, echoed the appreciation for the volunteers who helped coordinate the program. “We could not have done this without our former students,” he said. “I continue to be amazed by how willing they are to give their time and experience.”

About the program

The Mays Professional MBA is a rigorous 22-month program designed for working professionals looking to expand their knowledge and advance their careers in business.

During the program, students will discover new business knowledge, will discover themselves as leaders, will transform their careers and lives, and will be poised to make an impact on their organization, their family, and their community.

Classes meet on alternating weekends at the CITYCENTRE facility in the growing West Houston corridor. Get more information, or email or call (979) 845-4714.

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