Lifelong Learning for a Brighter World

young male professional pointing at a whiteboard while giving a presentation to a male client in a boardroom young male professional pointing at a whiteboard while giving a presentation to a male client in a boardroom

The Essentials

Critical tools for success.

Learn professional skills for success with these focused programs.

Leadership Essentials Courses

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Note: If you are planning to use these courses as electives in the Business Administration Diploma , please contact us for academic values. 


ESS 796 Supervision Essentials* (1 day)

Today supervisors face more challenges than ever: fewer employees, fewer resources, less money, and more work. The ability to strike the right balance between people management and task management is an essential ingredient to achieving outstanding performance. If you are a new supervisor or are in the process of becoming one, this course will provide a foundational overview of many critical supervisory skills including: understanding your role as supervisor; identifying your leadership style and how to put it to work; enhancing your people practices: motivating others, interviewing for "fit", giving constructive feedback, addressing performance issues; delegating effectively and responsibly; and leading productive meetings.

Instructors: Peter O'Donnell

ESS 804 Strategic Planning Fundamentals (1 day)

It’s hard to be strategic when the internal and external environments are constantly in flux rendering the long-term view increasingly difficult. But an organization without a strategic plan makes proactive and smart decision-making less common. Further it is more vulnerable to sudden changes. Strategic planning helps staff prepare for change even if the guiding direction has to be frequently adapted to suit the changing circumstances. This introduction to the fundamentals of strategic planning will provide you as a leader of a department, unit or team with how to structure and develop a plan and involve your staff and stakeholders. This one-day primer is a hands-on, interactive session aided by practical tools and processes for developing a “living, breathing” strategic plan. This course includes an assignment that must be completed prior to the course. Registrants will be emailed instructions approximately one week prior to the course.

Instructors: Anil Gupta

ESS 805 Unconscious Bias: How We Make Decisions - NEW! (0.5 Days)

Our behaviour is impacted by the assumptions, biases and stereotypes (positive and negative) that exist in our subconscious. We tend to believe that we are seeing everything in its complete form, however, it’s not possible for us to see the world as it is. Instead, we see the world through the lens of our experiences, biases and various identity factors. As a result, the assumptions we hold shape the decisions that we make, but these decisions may be creating unequal outcomes for our employees. For leaders, it is important to be aware of how our experiences, influenced by intersecting factors, can influence the way in which we communicate, how we approach and resolve conflict and ultimately how we lead. This course presents an introduction to unconscious bias and provides strategies to challenge our assumptions, improve our policies and create an inclusive workplace.

Instructors: Rumeet Billan

ESS 806 Delegating that Works (1 day)

Learn a simple, practical approach to delegating work to others that "gets things done right the first time." The course identifies the most common causes of delegation failure and then directly addresses them. Learn to define the key performance requirements of any work assignment in clear, behavioural terms, and turn these into an agenda to guide communication. You will also learn how to select the right performer for an assignment, and to communicate effectively with them, leading to clear understanding, genuine commitment and successful completion of even complex assignments. Finally, learn how to use an After Action Review to capture important insights from everyone involved in the completion of an assignment – an important step in continuing to build capacity in a working group. This course includes an assignment that must be completed prior to the course.  Registrants will be emailed instructions approximately one week prior to the course.

Instructors: Peter O'Donnell

ESS 809 Gender-Inclusive Communication & Collaboration (1 Day)

In this course, we recognize the significance of gender diversity training but go beyond it to become gender-inclusive. First, we distinguish between the biological-driven aspects of our behavior from the socially and culturally entrenched ones, likening it to an iceberg. Next, using organizational studies and through interactive learning activities, we examine the interplay in how gender shapes the workplace and its organizational culture, from our communication patterns, perceptions of hierarchy and power, to our networking, collaboration and leadership styles. Then, we use various insights from researchers, organizational development experts and thought leaders to showcase workplaces that are more gender-diverse and gender-inclusive in their culture and decision-making. As a key learning outcome and takeaway, learners will be given a diagnostic tool that can help assess the relative gender inclusion at their workplace and learn strategies to help create more gender-inclusive workplaces.

Instructors: Nitin Deckha

ESS 811 Leadership Foundations (1 day)

Most cultures in the world agree on one fundamental trait of great leaders: They have charisma - they connect with people through their warmth, sense of purpose, authentic character and genuine support of employees and partners to better their best. They just don’t talk about big ideas, they support action “on the ground”. As a result employees will go the extra mile for these leaders. Backed up by the latest in neuroscience research, explore the foundation for inspiring employees to greater performance through the lens of a leader’s perceived Charisma, Character and Confidence, all of which affect employee emotions. How these capabilities interact and manifest into specific leader attitudes and actions is the context within which you will examine your own 3C’s.Learn why common motivating practices such as recognition, rewards, goal-setting, coaching, and supporting progress are often ineffective as commonly implemented. Explore how to “change-up” the practices in line with new insights from brain science. Explore and test specific tools and techniques for improving your leadership impact. Self-assessment, peer feedback and coaching opportunities are part of this highly interactive workshop on the fundamentals of leadership regardless of an organization’s mission. Current articles and media are integrated into the discussion to facilitate debate and dialogue.

Instructors: Rumeet Billan

ESS 812 Leading Change for Success (1 day)

Change is a constant reality in today’s organizations, yet the vast majority of change initiatives fail. These failures can almost always be traced back to a lack of effective change leadership. Learn why change efforts typically fail and how enhance your own ability to provide change leadership that instead drives success. Learn strategies to bring each stakeholder group aboard the change journey. Attention will be given to collaborating with all stakeholders, including sponsors, individual team members, and also those who are affected by change but have little influence. Establish a new vision for the way you provide change leadership, incorporating the presented strategies to effectively lead change for success. Develop an individual action plan to provide change leadership for a current or upcoming change initiative in which you must lead the way. Please note that Leading Change for Success (ESS 812) and Navigating Change for Success (ESS 810) are similar courses. Individuals should not take both courses. Leading Change is for supervisors, managers and project leaders. Navigating Change is for individual contributors in non-supervisory roles.

ESS 813 Personal Leadership: Building from our Strengths* (1 day)

There is a universal tendency for organizations to call people in authority Leaders.  Leadership is not a position but instead a personal mission that can and should take place at all levels within an organization. It is “creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen”. Participants will focus on leadership by first looking inward through self-awareness in terms of their own strengths and preferences. They will uncover how to maximize their leadership value from working with their strengths. The workshop will utilize the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to facilitate discovery during this session. Establish a new vision for the way you provide leadership, a vision that draws from your strengths and preferences to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness.  Develop individual action plans to support bringing their vision to fruition.

ESS 817 Business Storytelling (1 day)

The art of leadership and management includes the ability to ‘weave a tale’ that engages, motivates, and inspires. Storytelling gives context and adds meaning; it helps strengthen the links between individual teams and bigger organizational goals. Effective managers need to learn how to connect in a more meaningful and intimate way with people to achieve buy-in and commitment. People tell business stories to communicate and connect with employees, customers, colleagues, partners, suppliers, and the media. Business stories differ from regular stories, in that you tell them with an objective, goal, or desired outcome in mind, rather than for entertainment. Participants will learn: how to communicate and connect better with their audience; how to build their story repertoire; how to distill their message; and how to improve their business speaking and writing skills.

ESS 820 Fostering Workplace Innovation (1 day)

How do organization leaders actually ignite creativity and get employees passionate about their work? Using the componential theory of creativity, this one-day workshop will allow participants to reflect upon their experience with creativity and innovation. Considering the four components deemed necessary for creative response (domain-relevant skills, creativity-relevant processes, intrinsic task motivation and the social environment), participants will determine strategies and practical actions that they can take back to their workplace to ‘make the case’ for cultivating creativity and innovation.

ESS 821 Leading Millennials - NEW! (0.5 Days)

In an environment in which 40% of the workforce is comprised of Millennials, and disruption of industry, product, and process is constant and unrelenting, understanding and learning how to lead this generation has become an integral part of organizations’ people strategy. This course presents a framework for practices that support the recruitment and retention of Millennials. A look at the Millennial experience and the unique attributes of this generation are examined, and the impact on recruitment, engagement and retention strategies are explored. Leadership that understands how to attract, recruit and retain top talent for the future is essential for thriving in a culture of disruption and change.

Instructors: Rumeet Billan

ESS 834 Giving & Receiving Constructive Feedback (1 day)

Interested in honing your verbal delivery skills and your ability to really hear and process feedback?  Typically one of the most dreaded interpersonal interactions we face, this course is packed with interaction and practical techniques for both the "giver" and "receiver" of constructive feedback.  Learn how to remove or minimize the fear that surrounds this common and often stressful communication necessity.

Instructors: Sue Vaughan

ESS 835 Emotional Intelligence at Work* (1 day)

A growing body of research shows that Emotional Intelligence is more important to personal and professional success than IQ, and that it is the single most important contributor to effective performance and leadership. During this interactive presentation you will be introduced to a wide variety of concepts and techniques related to effectively applying Emotional Intelligence. Explore how to better understand, manage and leverage your and others' emotions in order to manage conflict, deal with stress and to relate to others more effectively and productively. Implications for leadership and management capacity will also be discussed. A common theme that runs through this course is people, and the ability to understand, connect, react and relate to them. This courses includes an assignment that must be completed prior to the course.  Registrants will be emailed instructions approximately one week prior to the course.

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

ESS 862 Creative & Critical Thinking (2 days)

Increase your innovative thinking skills and improve your performance in unstructured situations in this dynamic course.  This model is an organized approach to problem solving which emphasizes finding opportunities for improvement in products, processes, teamwork and the implementation of solutions to everyday problems.  Develop a better understanding of the nature of problems and how to apply tools and concepts to your work-related problems and opportunities.

Instructors: Min Basadur

ESS 877 Negotiation Skills (1 day)

Negotiation is the art and science of securing agreements between two or more interdependent parties.  It can be very difficult to do well. Even the most experienced negotiators often fall prey to common biases and errors in judgment. The purpose of this course is to help you understand the theory and process of effective negotiations. The best way to learn negotiation skills and actually internalize them is to negotiate in a setting where insight is offered, feedback is plentiful, personal reflection is encouraged, and careful analysis is required. Therefore, the course relies primarily on “hands on” learning to help participants understand the negotiating process and their own strengths and weaknesses. Note: This course is intended for general business situations.

Instructors: Janice Locke

ESS 902 Coaching & Mentoring (2 days)

This two-day Coaching & Mentoring course is highly interactive and experiential, giving participants the opportunity to understand the concepts and practice use of the skills in a coaching conversation. Mentoring relationships have existed for many years in the workplace on an ad hoc basis. While the concept has existed, there is still mystique around the meaning and value. A half-day session will enable participants to understand the value of mentoring and more importantly, develop skills to create and manage mentoring relationships, both as mentors and mentees. The remainder of the course is devoted to coaching.  Coaching is fundamentally about facilitating change that will lead to desired results: facilitating movement from a current state to a desired future state. This 1 ½ day session will provide leaders with the skills needed to use coaching to leverage the organizations investment in human capital (people).

Instructors: Lori Stephenson

*Students must enrol at least two weeks before the start date to allow time for an online assessment to be completed prior to the course. 

^Next course held on McMaster's main campus