The Psychological Essentials of Leadership

“The Psychological Essentials of Leadership" taught by Professor Ann McGill (May 20-21, 2019)

Program Fee: USD 500

Location: Chicago Booth London Campus

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Employees join organizations but quit bosses, as the saying goes. Then organizations replace those employees through laborious recruiting processes only to have many of the new employees quit their bosses. Lather rinse repeat. Studies of the workforce commonly show a minority of employees actively and happily engaged while the rest of the staffs’ approach ranges from being actively hostile to their colleagues and customers to just passing the time going through the motions of work. Employees report that they are largely unaware of what they are meant to be doing and why in the overarching scheme of organizations’ strategy because their bosses have not made it clear. The distressing and puzzling aspect of this state of the workplace is that many of the “problem” bosses honestly meant to do their jobs well and worked hard at it, suggesting that the default mode of thinking about management is not serving them well. This session is meant to help leaders and managers by shaking up their thinking about what drives employee performance in the hopes of building a more productive and effective working environment.

This two-day session draws from Managing in Organizations (in the full-time and part-time programs) and Essentials of Effective Leadership (in the executive program). The first day emphasizes social and cognitive psychological findings to showcase common blind spots in the information managers gather about employees, how they interpret that information, and how they attribute causes of actions and events. In identifying these blind spots, it reveals additional tools at managers’ disposal to increase the accuracy of their understanding of employees, improve decision-making, and increase performance. It is intended to add tools to the toolkit. On the second day, discussion moves to more macro effects – away from individual thinking on the part of managers – by taking on the puzzle of groups, which often perform better than people acting alone, at least on average, but rarely as well as the best person. The second day also addresses means of improving persuasion, of making one’s case without engendering resistance and misunderstanding.

This Back-to-Booth presentation underscores the importance for managers of being good psychological scientists, including how to test one’s ideas, in order maximize employee performance. It relies on in-class exercises and discussions, some completed in groups, allowing participants to leverage their own knowledge and to learn from each other.


  • When

  • Monday, May 20, 2019 - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

  • Where

  • Chicago Booth London Campus
    Woolgate Exchange
    25 Basinghall St.
    London EC2V 5HA
    United Kingdom
    +44 20 7070 2200