Challenges of Leadership in Teams

This course prepares participants to handle the various challenges they will face in leading teams throughout their life cycle. The course supports self-reflection and skill development by creating changes in each participant's internal dialogue through interactive role-playing, self-assessment measures, group discussions, exercises, and interactive lectures. 

These activities will enhance each participant's development of their own unique leadership capabilities. Leadership styles are uniquely individual and situational. Participants will learn to use their new capabilities in a team environment and to select the most effective management style for a specific situation. They will also learn the competency level required to improve task performance. As leaders, participants will learn to successfully support their teams by reducing uncertainty and to increase collaboration by providing structure and developing trust during the life cycle of a project.

Individual leadership development plans will be prepared to enable participants to internalize improvements and become more effective without the stress of miscommunication and distrust. Once their development plan is enacted, each leader will be able to form teams that are quickly organized with individual team members who think collaboratively. Self-assessment, learning how to form a team, maintaining the team, reducing uncertainty, and becoming a good negotiator through using your emotional intelligence and leadership competencies are the focus of Challenges of Leadership in Teams.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Clark K. Colton
Bonnie Burrell van Stephoudt



Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course will not be offered in 2017. Sign up for our Email list to receive program updates.

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Developing your level of expertise in each of the challenge areas
  • Assessing yourself as a team leader/manager/CEO by understanding your strengths and weaknesses, choosing three or four areas you wish to develop
  • Utilizing your emotional intelligence to manage others
  • Managing stress and conflict through changing your internal dialogue
  • Planning and facilitating effective conflict management
  • Facilitating and coaching in a culture aimed at delivering results
  • Using effective socialization practices reduce uncertainty on a team
  • Transforming your leadership to a more adaptive style that fits your organizational culture
  • Enhancing your leadership abilities through effective intercultural communication

Who Should Attend: 

This course is appropriate for anyone who is, or will be, involved in leading and managing teams. Although the majority of participants in some years have had engineering or scientific training, the course has proven useful for individuals from a variety of other backgrounds. Participants are expected to have some background in team-building and/or team management skills.

Assignments and Computer Requirements:

Students will be provided with slide copy, notes, and books for the course. There will be nightly readings assignments from these materials that students should read before the beginning of class the next day. For those who wish to read in advance, and as a courtesy to participants for whom English is not their first language, some of these materials will be provided electronically before the course begins. In addition, the course makes use of several well-known self-assessment instruments that have large databases, which enhance their accuracy. These will also be sent to participants to fill out and return before class begins so that the results will be available as the course proceeds. Laptops are encouraged for this course.

Program Outline: 

Day 1

Challenge 1: The Leadership Development Model

Learn the structures and systems that need to be integrated into a model that can be globally adapted to any organizational structure.

Challenge 2: Project Management with Emotional Intelligence (EI) Strategic Project Management

Leaders can use their EI skills to build trust, handle conflict, give and take criticism constructively, deal with people who don't deliver, generate team commitment, and keep others motivated. Sharpen your EI by developing yourself in four major domains.

Challenge 3: Strategic Project Planning and Design

Most projects never get off the ground because ad hoc, haphazard, and obsolete methods fail to turn their ideas into coherent and actionable plans. Strategic project management uses an approach to designing projects and action initiatives that builds on critical questions which teams must intelligently answer in order to create their own strong, strategic foundation.

Challenge 4: Unique Challenges of Cross Functional Teams

Cross-functional project teams involve people with different expertise working toward a common goal and can be immensely powerful. These teams do offer additional challenges to leaders. How to lead in the absence of organizational or line authority is a skill that is important for leaders, as well as managers leading outside of their areas of expertise, to understand.

Day 2

Challenge 5: Resiliency and Stress – Transforming your Internal Dialogue

The real dynamics of stress and conflict is not from outside influences but from how you think about your circumstances. Leaders learn to uncover stress-producing thoughts and dismantle them by transforming their mindset, thereby helping them to reduce stress and uncertainty.

Challenge 6: Leadership Challenges when Forming the Team

Clearly defining the structure of the team under a predetermined team formation model is essential. This model includes creating a vision, systems of behavior, and an understanding that there are two processes simultaneously in effect—the team and task processes. This approach facilitates learning to use each individual's competencies to form a team.

Day 3

Challenge 7: Leading through Negotiation and Conflict Management

Conflict is a difference of opinion. A leader's main focus when managing a team conflict is to understand the conflict styles of other members and to facilitate their ability to understand and develop the use of more effective styles. Conflict can be beneficial for a team when managed successfully. Using principled negotiation and planning the team's negotiations for resources as a developed leadership skill can support team success.

Challenge 8: Leadership Self-Assessment

Certain assessment surveys can facilitate an individual's understanding of their present management style and abilities. Participants complete online surveys before the course begins and individually utilize the results during the course to develop their skills further. Although these self-assessments can take an individual outside their comfort zone, their application to each of the challenges can have a powerful transformative effect.

Day 4

Challenge 9: Leadership Mindsets

Mindset management provides cognitive insight into how we move away from limited personal goals to more systemic activities that have measurable outcomes and become part of a network of skills within an organization. These principles are predicated upon coaches and team facilitators utilizing a specific, learnable skill set, such as relationship building, problem-solving, and effective listening. Learning objectives include teaching leaders to develop a personal understanding of thinking and coaching styles. This session reviews recent findings in biological and behavioral studies that have helped to form a scientific basis for understanding mindset management.

Challenge 10: Team Communication and Socialization

Innovation and motivation are inextricably linked to the generation and reduction of uncertainty, albeit in very different ways. Innovation and change are related to the full cycle of the generation and reduction of uncertainty while motivation is predominantly related to its reduction. Miscommunication within teams leads to stress and anxiety, which generates the uncertainty that needs to be reduced. Behaviors are situational in this respect. Focused leadership values the differences in priorities, backgrounds, and values that exist in the team members.

Day 5

Challenge 11: Leading in an Intercultural Environment

To lead in a culturally diverse environment, a leader must be able to recognize cultural variables to increase cultural sensitivity. It is essential to understand how these variables influence communication and, therefore, team dynamics. Recognition of how to maximize intercultural communication strengths and minimize potential difficulties is an important ability for a leader to learn.

Challenge 12: Gender Issues in Leadership

Gender differences in the workplace can be theoretically viewed as cultural differences, which should be mediated. Gender can be a challenge to clear communication and cooperation. Once diversity is clarified, gender issues can be minimized to maximize comfort and productivity.

Challenge 13: Leadership Strategies: Personal Development Plans

Learn how to integrate competencies and personal leadership assessment results into an individual leadership development plan.

Course Schedule: 

View 2017 Course Schedule (pdf)

Class runs 9:00 am - 5:30 pm except Friday when it ends at 4:30 pm.

9:00 am - 10:00 am    Session
10:15 am - 12:30 pm Session
1:30 pm - 2:45 pm    Session
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm    Session


Participants’ Comments: 


"This course reminds you that you can still be the best leader regardless of the environment. [It] pushes you to think, which is rare these days."


"The best part of the program was the interaction with the staff. They were just amazing. They were really helpful and I could approach them at any time and they would just help out. Personally, I approached every lecturer to get my problem solved and everyone provided their perspective. I was really impressed."


"The class was the most diverse group of students I have ever been a part of. And the instructors engaged and included all of us in discussions and conversations aimed to improve our understanding of the material. I got a tremendous benefit from taking this class and am grateful to the staff of your institute and the instructors for letting me participate."


"This is knowledge that will be useful in all jobs and private relationships - it's about how to deal with people and how to manage own and others expectations and feelings."


"It was a great opportunity to get a very good insight in soft skills that I have never experienced before, as I usually attend courses that deal more with my everyday work, rather than me as a person/leader in my work environment. Therefore the assessment tests, which I took quite serious, were very helpful to get a good knowledge of my abilities and weaknesses, not only from guessing, but on an objective basis, and get some ideas on which aspects of my abilities/weaknesses I would like to work on."


"The diversity of the group was great. We had a great collection of senior managers to new managers, from different areas/industries and different countries!"



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (15%) 15
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (25%) 25
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (60%) 60

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (30%) 30
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (70%) 70



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (50%) 50
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (50%) 50