Leadership, a key concept in INSEEC Paris MSc & MBA

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Is being a leader also being a manager? What are the links between leadership and power? Leadership and anticipation? The notion of leadership is often discussed in the professional sphere, especially since many examples have been and still are scattered in the collective imagination: Steve Jobs, William Churchill, Anne Lauvergeon… were some of the names of leaders mentioned by our speakers and students at the launch of the Leadership Lab this year during the “Regards croisés” roundtables, in November 2020. The Leadership Lab is the flagship graduation project of our students in their second year of Master of Science or MBA on the Paris campus.

“”The Leadership Lab, times of inspiration and structuring of thought on the notion of leadership in business””

As part of the reform of its pedagogical engineering, the INSEEC Paris MSc & MBA have designed a new pedagogical model more in line with the current health situation and the needs of students, and in particular of its partner companies. The Leadership Lab is the cornerstone of the pedagogical path of students at the end of the Master’s cycle: an ambitious end-of-study project, one of the main outcomes of which is achieved in partnership with The Leadership Circle, a think-tank of professionals, wanted this program to be ambitious and it has been designed as a real yearly red thread with different events at different tempos (synchronous, asynchronous, conferences, coaching sessions, etc.).

“”This (new) system should enable our learners to respond to the key issues raised by the companies in our ecosystem: the ability to work together, the mobilization of emotional intelligence to get out of the ‘ivory tower’, the awareness of leadership and reflexivity“, explains Cédric Rassaby, Deputy Director of the Paris campus and Director of Education for the Health & HR Center. “”Is leadership innate? How else can it be developed? How to “manage” your manager? Why do we still see behaviors that are far from the frames of reference? What leadership in times of crisis? What leadership for a young graduate?“These are all questions that were addressed by the first major witnesses of the Leadership Lab course.

A first round of round tables led by the main witnesses representing the school point of view 

After the opening of the Leadership Lab course in synchronous mode and the presentation of the annual online course, the students were invited to three round tables moderated by Cédric Rassaby, where the various key witnesses, representing the “school’s point of view”, were able to share their vision of leadership with them. “Crossed views” was the chosen expression, because each time, two speakers came to put into perspective their point of view, sometimes converging, sometimes diverging, before answering the students’ requests and questions.

The goal of the exercise is not to “give the truth about leadership because there are several truths“, explains Cedric Rassaby in the introduction of the round tables, but to exchange and open the minds of the students present, with points of view, which sometimes came to challenge them.

The points of view of our great school witnesses 

Claire Souvigné, director ofINSEEC Bachelor and MSc & MBA of INSEEC Paris, member of the Leadership Circle and expert on happiness at work,  came first to share her vision  : “”I don’t have one truth about leadership, I have many!“” she explains to the students right off the bat. On the subject of female leadership, reconciled with her natural leadership style, she says: “”There is a prerequisite when you want to be a manager, and eventually a leader, and that is to get to know yourself. As long as you don’t know yourself, it’s very difficult to know how you function, even instinctively, whether you are a man or a woman! It’s really being a human being, in a business context, that’s really going to define how you’re going to be a leader. Your personality will have to adapt to a given environment. “” And on the notion of happiness at work, Claire Souvigné reports three fundamental points of the theory of motivation by Deci and Rayan that contribute to it: “”the fact of feeling competent, and your training contributes greatly to this, affiliation, i.e. the ability to interact permanently with your colleagues, and the last point, which is very important, and which we work on a lot in the training courses at INSEEC, autonomy, the capacity for autonomy that a manager will give you. 

Serge Guérin, a recognized sociologist specializing in issues related to organizational and societal transformations, Scientific Director of the Health & HR Unit and teacher-researcher at INSEEC Grande School, Julian Dupraz, Director of the Sports programs at the Paris, Lyon and Chambéry campuses, Anne-Laure Boncori, Pedagogical Director of the Luxury Division and teacher-researcher at INSEEC Grande Guillaume Lefebvre, Scientific Director of the Pôle Finance, also came to share their points of view with our students.

Interesting avenues of reflection for students

And the bet seems to have been successful, as the students showed a great interest in these subjects during these live round tables, eager to discover the points of view of the various major witnesses from their school. Questions and thoughts were coming in from all sides in the real-time conversions: “”The good leader is not necessarily a good technician. I am thinking of Anne Lauvergeon at the head of Areva who was not a great nuclear technician (or good manager) but who managed to restore confidence in the nuclear industry by transforming its image or by communicating more on nuclear safety.“” said one student or another, who legitimately put the debate into perspective: “”I have the impression that the idea of a leader is being desacralized, which makes us think that anyone can become one, when we don’t always have the skills and emotional intelligence to do so. I believe that the best leaders are those who do not seek to become leaders and those for whom the position of leader is not an end in itself.

To the question of one of our students on the pre-established character necessary to be a leader, and if this last one is worked, Serge Guérin answers them on sociological aspects which can indeed pre-exist by the use of the “”I””: “”For example, in a family that has confidence in me, it has given me confidence, I would probably be more comfortable if I were in an environment where I was allowed to take more initiative, for example being a class representative since the 6th grade (laughs). On the other hand, it is also built. I took this, then that, and then as I was a class representative, and I enjoyed it, it’s already something. And I may have a little brother or sister, who was also a class representative, and did not enjoy it. And yet the family is the same! In this notion of family, there is also this notion of taking pleasure in it.

These are very good avenues of reflection that will continue to mature among our students this year during their group work and the next round of round tables where the school’s partner companies will come to deliver their point of view, challenge and debate with our students.

Updated 24 February 2022