Executive Master of Leadership Blog

The Executive Leadership Cohort: Your Personal Board of Advisors

[fa icon="calendar'] May 21, 2019 11:32:44 AM / by Susan Gautsch


"Surround yourself with good people; surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better."

- Ali Krieger, 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion

As many of us have heard, we become the aggregate of the five people who most often surround us. Through these peers, we pick up new knowledge, social norms, and attitudes that we’d otherwise never know. For many of us, as we grew up, the lessons learned through our classmates were often equally important to those taught in our classrooms, if not more.

For this reason, we credit almost as much value of our leadership development to our peers for shaping us as we credit to our professors, mentors, and parents. With this fact in mind, we’ve strategically oriented the EML curriculum around cohorts of 20 to 30 students to enhance what you will learn in and Executive Master of Leadership program through group discussions, bonding, and personal growth.

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Learning and Growing Through the EML Cohort

Each class’ cohorts are curated with the utmost intentionality, ensuring a healthy diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. Don’t be surprised to be engaging in group projects, presentations, and case studies with cohort members that include captains of police departments, heads of hospitals, and managers of nonprofits. Neurodiversity in the workplace facilitates growth among the group, as members refine their assumptions, biases, and beliefs through in-depth discussions and class activities.

A Personal Board of Advisors

While many of us dream of finding the perfect advisor for our professional career, in reality, these relationships are often hard to come by. Great business mentors are rare because it’s challenging to find people who correctly understand us and our careers enough to provide valuable input.

Completing an executive leadership training program can feel like a lot of work. Thankfully, by the time you finish the EML curriculum’s four core classes, your peers will have all the understandings they need to act as your advisors. Through classroom activities, you will exchange information regarding your industries, professional roles, and backgrounds. As you share and expand upon ideas together, your relationships will grow stronger. In the end, these avenues will let your cohort fully understand your strengths, weaknesses, challenges, achievements, and circumstances, affording them a unique window into your life through which they can make meaningful contributions.

Moving Beyond the Classroom

As the program ends, as you move beyond the classroom, and as you continue applying leadership training at work, you’ll leave with not only the invaluable lessons shared by professors and guest speakers from various industries, but also with new Trojan Family members who can offer you fresh, novel advice from a new perspective whenever you encounter obstacles. We often find that the peer relationships established in our EML program transcend educational and professional labels, becoming authentic, lifelong friendships by the time of graduation.


Download a brochure for USC's Executive Master of Leadership degree program.


Topics: Cohort-Based Learning, Leadership Development

Susan Gautsch

Written by Susan Gautsch

Director of Online Learning at USC Price School of Public Policy

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