In an attempt to fill that void, The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., a leading educator of financial service professionals, has updated their master of science in management (MSM) degree with a singular focus—to develop leadership skills in the next generation of senior financial services managers.The MSM degree came into being when an assessment of upper executives from the financial services areas—banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies—revealed specific requests that their up-and-coming leaders participate in an accredited master's degree in leadership, says Dr. Peter Dean, management and leadership professors and head of The College's MSM in Leadership program. More specifically, these VPs and CEOs wanted their next generation of leaders to participate in at least 10 courses specifically related to leadership. "In a traditional MBA program, you might have one or two courses that would come under the category of leadership studies," says Dean. "When you get an MBA you come out very skilled in accounting, finance, statistics and economics; but if you want to really sink your teeth into leadership, you'll have to go back for a certificate program or an advanced executive education program."
While it's true that other colleges offer degrees that have some component of leadership, says Dean, "What we've tried to do here [The American College] is to cover the leadership studies area comprehensively in terms of ethics, communications, change and management, and in terms of understanding the needs of human capital inside organizations." In this way, Dean says, the curriculum is a positive response to missing parts of the MBA equation when it comes to leadership.
"What we discovered during my 20 years of teaching university MBA programs," says Dean, "was that an MBA probably prepares executives better for a CFO role than for a CEO role. I wanted to be part of a program that focused on an executive's leadership development, and that's what we have tried to do."
Dean, whose book Leadership for Everyone will be published this summer by McGraw-Hill, states that one important focus of the program is on teaching future leaders not to hold leadership hostage in the executive branch of an organization. "In other words, leadership is something that can be practiced whether a person is a manager or not; it's leadership for everyone," urges Dean. "A good leader will build the systems and processes so that anyone can practice leadership within their own territory of influence."
Acceptance into the MSM program is highly competitive and involves a selective process designed to identify management candidates of superior potential who are committed to leading a financial organization. Professionals interested in enrolling in the one-year program must meet specific experience and education prerequisites before being admitted. To provide students with more attention and face time with faculty, enrollment is limited to 30 students.
For more information, go to www.TheAmericanCollege.edu