26 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
The future of leadership education
Management studies must evolve to meet changing needs
of business, society
By Michael J. Provitera and Mostafa Sayyadi
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 27
Leaders such as Jack Welch have become teachers
of how to enhance the soft skills needed for success
in organizations. This article provides 10 guidelines
that may enhance the effectiveness of leadership edu-
cation in the future.
From prior research we know that the prospect of
education provides an alternative to the typical Master of Busi-
ness Administration (MBA). The Master of Science in leader-
ship has capitalized on the leadership education discipline. Yet,
a complication comes about because of the extent our knowl-
edge about management and leadership has been extrapolated
by scholars to draw upon new degree programs and dialogue
that separates the two.
In America and throughout the world, the COVID-19 pan-
demic has presented an unforeseen flight toward online learn-
ing, and the process of higher education has changed. Hal
Gregersen, a scholar in executive leadership, took his in-class
executive leadership course online from his home for the first
time in 2020 during the U.S. quarantine. Gregersen showed
by example how leaders should operate in a post-COVID
world. This complication is a concern because management
educators have taken somewhat of a back seat to online learn-
ing and now face an exodus from the classroom to online
learning platforms.
The course of action to address this concern entails a new
mindset, one that is somewhat of a hybrid – offering courses
that can be online, remote or a combination of both. This
article contributes to the literature by providing a mechanism
that offers promise for leadership education in an innovative
and creative manner.
The past provides a foundation, a milestone and a frame-
work. In 1978, James MacGregor Burns wrote a book titled
Leadership that effectively established the field of leadership
studies. According to Burns, “Leaders induce followers to act
in accord with the values and the motivations of both leaders
and followers. It is a dynamic relationship that, at its best, finds
leaders engaged in a process of raising the consciousness of fol-
lowers or, at a minimum, engages both leaders and followers
in a common enterprise. Leadership is meaningless without its
connection to common purposes and collective needs.
His concept of leadership goes beyond the classroom to in-
corporate the needs of society. As we reflect on the process of
education today, we consider leadership with a new mindset
that includes diversity, equity and inclusion.
Like all educational platforms, it is a process to change, im-
prove and extrapolate years of colonized educational norms.
Recent scholars add to Burns’ conceptual ideas by decoloniz-
ing the curriculum of leadership, setting a new agenda for or-
ganizational leadership and change. They accomplish this by
discussing the importance of learning as a catalyst for change
in all organizations. Organizations need to develop systematic
methods to look for and anticipate change; focus on and invest
28 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
The future of leadership education
in opportunities rather than problems; phase out established
products and services; balance change and continuity; and
motivate and retain top performers, creating a mindset among
employees that embraces positive change.
Burns introduced the comparative concepts of transactional
and transforming leadership while recent scholars focused on
strategic decisions as a fundamental resource for planning and
implementing changes within organizations. The process of
leadership has taken on new dimensions, reaching as far as the
ends of the globe and beyond. For example, the NASA leader-
ship program prepares its leaders to actively lead and manage
change within the team that integrates key stakeholders, cus-
tomers and organizational and programmatic goals and values.
How can leadership education prepare our future leaders so
that they can perform well in every facet of society? This ques-
tion is answered as we explore the past, present and future of
leadership education. We attempt to eliminate the mystique of
leadership education and offer 10 guidelines that will enhance
the role of leadership education in the 21st century.
Leadership education in the past
Leadership education traditionally has focused on the discus-
sion method via case studies and site visits to successful com-
panies. This method of learning is valuable to future leaders
but it lacked practical applications. In an effort to explore lead-
ership education, the following chronological milestones are
Empowerment. This concept led to pushing the decision-
making process within the lower echelons of organizational
Practice-orientation. This focus attempted to provide
an environment for applying what was acquired in leadership
Participative democratic leadership. This type of lead-
ership attempted to encourage empowerment while not losing
track of the centralized leadership approach.
Systems theory. The organization is viewed as an entire
system and each strategic business unit as an integral part of a
greater whole.
Trait theory and transformational leadership mod-
els. This model introduced the follower as an important com-
ponent of leader-follow relationships.
Organizational learning. The focus was on the appli-
cation of what was learned versus the espoused concepts of
Change agents. This concept posited leaders as instru-
ments of change.
The above developments in leadership education are now
faced with dynamic changes occurring in the operational ef-
forts of organizations to gain and maintain market share, re-
cover from the pandemic and include a greater emphasis on
diversity, equity and inclusion.
These organizations have become increasingly interested in
the role that business programs at colleges and universities play
in preparing future leaders. Can leadership education prepare
our future leaders for the process changes that the 21st century
has and will encounter in the future?
Leadership education in the present
Today, there is a complete shift in leadership education from
the New England programs – which allow students from six
states enrolled in some programs not offered by their home-
state public colleges or universities to pay a reduced tuition
rate – to other more economical programs that attempt to
decolonize the curriculum. This shift in demand for leader-
ship education is based on the competition in the area of tu-
ition. Given the electronic nature and marketplace of higher
education, if New England does not address this problem
quickly, it could suffer tremendous losses in the public-en-
rollment area.
Many feel that higher education should focus less on eco-
nomic development and research missions and more on the
basics: general education, adult education, leadership and re-
sponsibility, and teacher training. Globally, business schools
such as Stanford University advocate leadership education that
transforms knowledge into impact and drives innovation with
Stanford LEAD, its flagship online global business program.
The most important objective of higher education should
be preparing undergraduates for a career in which they can
enjoy and prosper. The best way to prepare future leaders
comes from the research of Marilyn Taylor and her colleagues
(Management Learning, 2002) who found that: “Professional
leadership education traditionally begins with theoretical con-
structs and perspectives. If practical realities are represented, it
is typically in the form of case studies and/or discussions about
possible applications or practical implications. The educational
process that begins with and orients students to theory as the
Organizations need to develop
systematic methods to look for and
anticipate change; focus on, and invest
in opportunities rather than problems;
phase out established products and
services; balance change and continuity;
and motivate and retain top performers,
creating a mindset among employees
that embraces positive change.
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 29
starting point makes the path back to practice often difficult
and unreliable.
These authors feel that systemic pedagogy provides a com-
mon practice into which theory can be introduced through
replicating dynamic organizational conditions within the pro-
gram, as well as experience in field settings. Through active
participation and interaction, participants can develop profes-
sional judgment, in practice, about the significance of specific
theoretical constructs that inform relevant application to a
range of concrete realities they may encounter.
The use of a class project that employs the principles of ex-
periential education and action research is a teaching strategy
based on the expectation that future leaders will take responsi-
bility for their own learning, and thus will be better equipped
to practice leadership in an environment of change and chaos.
Most scholars agree that experiential learning will equip stu-
dents with real life skills they can apply to their leadership
roles – “leadership development initiatives should be system-
atic, multidisciplinary and research-oriented and have several
experiential components.” (Stacey L. Connaughton, et al.,
Journal of Education for Business, 2003).
Leadership education in the future
John Nirenberg argues that “given the recent wave of corpo-
rate scandals, the very credibility of business schools’’ handling
of leadership education is now in question. Alternative forms
of leadership education are taking root and most likely will
be well established before business schools enter the competi-
Moreover, Nirenberg contends that “the MBA degree, as
the flagship of schools of business, has been under attack for
some time. Such criticisms focus on curricular issues, such as
the typical programs increasing irrelevance, as well as the fact
The use of a class project that employs
the principles of experiential education
and action research is a teaching strategy
based on the expectation that future
leaders will take responsibility for their
own learning, and thus will be better
equipped to practice leadership in an
environment of change and chaos. Most
scholars agree that experiential learning
will equip students with real life skills
they can apply to their leadership roles.
30 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
The future of leadership education
that MBA programs do not offer leadership development. If
business schools are to remain credible sources of future busi-
ness leaders, they must change immediately or see their mar-
ket for leadership development turn to consultants and other
This holds true for the mass exit of the MBA for the more
appealing executive education and leadership programs. Does
the MBA need a leadership track? Yes. Will it change enroll-
ment? Maybe. Thus, the key is to merge the two programs so
that students can take courses that matter for people that care
and organizations that can prosper.
Leadership education is heading in a new direction as more
academic programs are becoming practitioner-oriented, and
more practitioners are using academia as an ample training
ground. Many organizations have found that the two-day
supervisory training stints do not prepare leaders to manage
effectively. They are enrolling employees and recruiting from
business schools to augment the in-house leadership develop-
ment programs.
The University of Phoenix and Baker College online are
examples of universities offering degree programs that are
project-based and give their students training certification
throughout their degree programs. Phoenix offers a compre-
hensive, web-based complete management leadership train-
ing program that is convenient and flexible to thousands of
students in pursuit of leadership education. They combine
comprehensive management leadership training courses that
attempt to assist future leaders to accelerate in their career.
Baker College is designed for individuals who aspire to upper
level administrative and management positions.
In addition to their core MBA courses, future leaders are
exposed to specific leadership issues and theories to develop
problem-solving skills that will help them effectively lead an
organization in today’s global environment. The future is
open to dynamic change and education is rife with options for
continuous improvement.
Whether online or brick and mortar, classrooms will cover
the theories and models in an attempt to build a foundation
of knowledge that can quickly transition into experiential ap-
plications such as projects, real world problem-solving and the
day-to-day practical use of this knowledge.
Ten guidelines to improve leadership education
Scholars are culling through mountains of research along with
decades of scholarship to try to arrive at a general theory of
leadership. Unfortunately, some scholars continue to criticize
leadership education. There is plenty of room for improve-
ment because leadership programs lack focus. Rather than
studying broad principles, many programs glorify individual
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 31
Below are 10 guidelines that may enhance the effectiveness
of leadership education:
1. Continue to combine project management, organization-
al training and leadership education to ascertain a larger
market share of the leadership development field using
distance learning tools.
2. Bring more community leaders, professionals or retired
faculty into the classroom to enhance the knowledge of
future leaders.
3. Support faculty with training and development as they at-
tempt to make the transition from traditional classroom
methods into distance educational environments.
4. Consider total quality management techniques such as
plan, do, check, act” (PDCA) into the agenda.
5. Combine leadership education with organizational train-
ing to bridge the gap between what we learn (theory) and
what we attempt to apply (practice).
6. Expand alliances with business leaders such as Elon Musk
to include his ideas into classroom activities and extrapo-
late social media into the homes and offices of people.
7. Select communities that need leadership and provide proj-
ect-based programs future leaders can engage in and learn
from, such as strategic planning models for inner cities.
8. Consider a certification process for the education of our
future leaders so they can practice what they learn in or-
ganizational settings and become more credentialed with
9. Engage students in the academic research process so they
can learn to develop a knowledge of the metrics involved
with human subject reports and improve the process.
10. Have future leaders work directly with CEOs or senior
vice presidents for a specified time period on a project that
attempts to add value in that organization.
Applying these guidelines may help to ensure that the ad-
ministrators, professors and aspiring leaders enhance leader-
ship education. However, academia will have to find ways to
cultivate and utilize the knowledge and expertise each new
aspiring leader brings to the classroom.
Peter Drucker argued that new leaders must be persuaded
that the supervision of new leaders is a marketing job. Admin-
istrators and professors alike must identify wants, values, goals
and end results for new leaders, then make productive the spe-
cific strengths and knowledge of everyone. Scholars will con-
tinue to cross over in discipline and work backward to create
new models of leadership. For instance, the marketing model
of AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, action) will enhance en-
rollment and the desire to pursue higher education.
The prospects for a leadership career today are more ad-
venturous than ever before due to the continuous theoretical
developments of the profession. From historical frameworks to
the processes of today, new leadership challenges will continue
to be present in our future. This is an exciting and rewarding
time for the new leader. Embrace it!
Note: For a full list of references for this article and additional read-
ings, see the ISE reference page, iise.org/isemagazine/references.
Michael J. Provitera is an associate professor of organizational behavior
at Barry University in Miami, Florida. He received a bachelors degree
with a major in marketing and a minor in economics at the City Uni-
versity of New York in 1985. In 1989, while concurrently working on
Wall Street as a junior executive, he earned his MBA in finance from
St. Johns University in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He obtained his
Ph.D. in business administration from Nova Southeastern University.
Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively de-
velop innovation in companies and helps companies from startups to
Fortune 100 succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders.
He is a business book and magazine author whose work has been
featured in several business publications, including IISEs Industrial
Management magazine.
Webinars explore leadership
Leadership development is a key topic featured in the IISE
Training Center’s Performance Excellence webinars (iise.org/
PExcellencewebinars). Here are some of the topics available in
the webinar archives:
Perspectives and Points of View on How to Motivate
Ideal Behaviors From Employees
Shop Floor to Top Floor: Create Messages that
Influence Different Audiences
Senior ISE Leaders Share Learnings from Career and
Life Choicepoints
Career and Life Choice Points
Managing the Transition from Engineer to Manager
Accelerating Early Career Success - Working on Soft
Skill/Change Leadership Gaps
CISE Career Choicepoints: Learnings and Lessons
from Seasoned ISE Leaders
32 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
After two years of virtual
instruction due to the pan-
demic restrictions, IISEs
Training Center is back in
full force this fall with a full
schedule of in-person and
online courses for student, corporate and
international training.
The options include live in-person
with an instructor in an interactive
classroom setting; livestream for virtual
teams who arent co-located, with live
instructors and interaction; and online
on-demand for those who prefer to learn
at their own pace.
IISE’s instructors offer years of teach-
ing experience coupled with real-world
hands-on practical experience. IISE
training is accredited by the Internation-
al Accreditors of Continuing Education
and Training (IACET), the leading ac-
creditation organization for providers
of professional development worldwide
that provides a rigorous set of interna-
tional standards.
Those who complete courses can dis-
play their achievements through a digi-
tal badging program with Accredible. A
list of individuals who have earned IISE
certication is available at link.iise.org/
“IISE is proud to offer training and
professional development programs that
span the breadth of the Industrial and
Systems Engineering profession, said
James Swisher, IISEs director of con-
tinuing education. “From safety and
ergonomics to advanced analytics, we
have the right fit to help you grow and
advance in your career.
IISE training efforts are tailored for
each unique group of learners:
University training program
Over the last two academic years,
IISE Training Center gears up for fall courses
Menu includes in-person, livestream and online on-demand instruction
“The course is amazing. ... I cannot express how
important it is to get back out there. We have
safety precautions in place, but actually sharing
the knowledge between your fellow peers and
your engineers, as well as having one-on-one
conversations with the instructors to help you
through the problems or to guide you through a
particular problem, is invaluable.”
– Erika Jackson-Scott, who attended
the IISE PE Exam Review course in July at the
Norcross, Georgia, headquarters.
Photos by IISE staff
“I think it’s great to be interacting with people in
person where they can ask questions and they
feel more comfortable to stop and ask questions.
Virtual is great, and there are a lot of pros with it
– you don’t have to travel, you can do it from your
home. But in person, I think, also allows you to
get more help if you have more questions.”
– Elizabeth Gentry, IISE course instructor
Syed Hasan Jaffrey concentrates on his
notes during the PE Exam Review course.
Kim Glenn, right, and Harley Brown listen
to instruction during the PE Exam Review
course at IISE headquarters in Norcross,
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 33
IISE has provided training to more than
3,500 university students at 55 schools
across the U.S. and worldwide. For the
fall 2022 semester, there are seven cours-
es offered across multiple formats (live
in-person, livestream and online on-
demand): Lean Yellow Belt, Six Sigma
Yellow Belt, Lean Green Belt, Six Sigma
Green Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt,
Operational Analytics Certificate, and
From Engineer to Leader Certicate.
To schedule a course, contact Swisher at
Corporate training
IISE can bring training directly to
an organization with training courses
in Lean Six Sigma, work measurement,
analytics, project management, facili-
ties design and many other disciplines.
Bringing an instructor to the organiza-
tion saves travel expenses and offers an
expert trainer on-site to walk through
processes and apply learning in real time.
For more, visit iise.org/trainingcenter/
Lean Six Sigma
IISE’s most popular courses are the
Lean and Six Sigma certicate courses,
offered in three curricula: Lean focus-
es on improvement tools with a goal
of meeting customer expectations and
eliminating waste (improving efficien-
cy). Six Sigma focuses on rigorous data
analytics and statistical tools to improve
quality by minimizing process vari-
ability. And Integrated Lean Six Sigma
covers both topics. Each curriculum is
offered at four belt levels: yellow, green,
black and Master.
International training
IISE’s training programs have of-
fered classes in Bolivia, Canada, Costa
Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Saudi Arabia
and Mexico over the last year. A team
of bilingual expert instructors can help
design programs to fit everyone’s needs.
Online on-demand
IISE offers many of its courses in a self-
paced, online on-demand format. Find
a full course list at iise.org/trainingcenter/
online, and the Microlearning Refreshers
at iise.org/trainingcenter/microlearning).
To learn more, visit iise.org/Training
IISE offers webinars on multiple top-
ics created by societies, divisions and
members. For upcoming webinars and
archives, visit iise.org/webinars.
“They (instructors) were great.
We had a range of 20 years of
experience all the way up to 50
years. Instructors that knew people
who were the foundation layers for
industrial engineering were great.
It’s nice to hear those stories; even
just the sidebars in class were very
– Harley Brown,
PE Exam Review attendee
“What I really enjoyed about the instructors was their passion.
You could tell that they lived the discipline and they wanted
us to be successful, and that helps. Each of us came from
different corners of the country and it’s really exciting to know
the instructors that were invested in us, They said, ‘Hey, you
can email us, call us after this course is over.’ And I think that
is the long-term advantage of having an in-person live class.
You’re able to make those relationship connections so you feel
more comfortable emailing and reaching out and asking for
– Kim Glenn, PE Exam Review course attendee
IISE Director of Continuing Education
James Swisher works out a problem
during the PE Exam Review course.
Instructor Larry Aft, longtime IISE training
director, answers an attendee’s question.