What do we do on the MBA Personal Impact module?


Ashridge MBA: Personal Impact Module: The module identifies three interconnected themes: Personal Awareness; Personal Resilience; Personal Presence. Together these three elements constitute our own Personal Impact.

Added on 11 January 2013 by Roger Delves

What do we do on the MBA Personal Impact module?

Ashridge MBA: Personal Impact Module:

The module identifies three interconnected themes: Personal Awareness; Personal Resilience; Personal Presence. Together these three elements constitute our own Personal Impact. How well developed each is plus how well and how often we access these skills and behaviours together have a huge influence on how others experience us respond to us and feel about us.

We don’t believe that people can get a feel for this sort of material just through learning. They have to live it as well. Here one of the concepts behind the design of the MBA the “flipped classroom” becomes important. In a flipped classroom the transfer of knowledge takes place in a virtual space while the classroom space – the traditional venue for knowledge transfer – becomes a place of exploration a place of experimentation a place where risks can safely be taken.

Students explore Personal Awareness by looking at Emotional Intelligence and Authenticity. We have long been taught that those emotions we feel need to be carefully expressed in certain environments and at certain times. We can’t always afford especially in a leader role to show how angry or hurt how confused or conflicted we are. However this single view of how to deal with emotions in our work lives neglects the importance of the role emotions play in forming our relationships navigating through the politics of work environments maintaining successful and fulfilling employment making good decisions in life understanding the drivers of social behaviours and being successful. Emotional Intelligence and Authenticity have emerged as a way to capture these abilities and skills that enable us as individuals to maximise their personal social and organisational performance and success using emotion management techniques. Transactional Analysis our third theme has long been used to help individuals to understand and to improve interpersonal relationships helping people to manage their own behaviour and to impact on the behaviour of others in a positive way.

We use two canvases stretched over these three frameworks to help students explore Personal Awareness. One is based on events on Mount Everest in May 1996 when the biggest single loss of life on the mountain in climbing’s history took place. We look at what might have contributed to this tragedy and the degree to which increased personal awareness might have helped to avert it.

The second canvas is Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. We use the frameworks to explore the actions and motivations of Iago Othello and Desdemona. Students come to the face-to-face element having watched a modern film version of the play and having read a synopsis of the play’s plot and events. In the classroom we discuss what happens and why using then lenses of EI Authenticity and Transactional Analysis. We then seek transferable learning which students can carry back both to their MBA studies and to the workplace.

Personal Resilience explores the neurobiology and psychology of resilient attitudes to performance with specific focus on the importance of self-regulation as a key to maintaining an authentic emotionally intelligent effective self when under pressure. Personal insights is gained using the Ashridge Resilience Questionnaire (ARQ) coupled with the latest research into ego depletion. Students have the opportunity to build psychological muscle memory by examining and experiencing their default patterns of thought and behaviour under pressure and practicing improved strategies for success. The theme offers a balanced focus between understanding the self and managing others and practical strategies for effective self-management across a range of scenarios.

We use actors to create role plays with the students. These are realistic challenging and immersive giving individuals a real opportunity to explore theory in practice while maintaining a safe environment with no professional risk attached. Students find the exercise compelling as well as valuable.

Personal Presence sets out to examine the role of personal impact and impression management when presenting self and trying to influence others. This aspect of the module explores the psychology of first impressions and how to master the rules of non-verbal communication to project consistently in a way that is aligned to individual core values and principles. Students learn strategies to make themselves and their messages more memorable and to be persuasive by engaging the hearts and minds of their audience. There are opportunities to share experience and to gain tools and techniques from a variety of sources including each other film clips and live practice.

All in all the Personal Impact module is different and is compelling. It treats with important material in an interactive and engaging way. It embraces new ways of learning and new ways of teaching making sure that memorability is coupled with apposite content. It’s an exciting journey that engages students from start to finish with practical outcomes that will last and prove valuable throughout an individual’s career.

Learn more about the Ashridge MBA