Personal Leadership and Success

Executive Education Workshop at Columbia Business School


Global Organization Development Manager, Reed Elsevier

As someone who has been involved in designing Leadership Development experiences as well as participating in several programs over the course of my career, it was refreshing, surprising and very inspirational to experience Hitendra Wadhwa’s Personal Leadership and Success program in the Executive Education department of Columbia.  I enrolled in PLS because Hitendra delivered a glimpse of this program at one of our Leadership Development programs for General Managers.
I, like all of our participants, was hooked. It’s almost like a fasten-your-seat-belts experience, in that he guides you very skillfully through a model that makes you fully appreciate that leadership and, quite frankly, personal success and happiness, are all about how you develop your personal mastery. With all of the hype and programs about authentic leadership, this is the one that provides a compass and a roadmap to examine you, your emotions, and your principles and ask yourself those very thought-provoking questions that we often shy away from. More importantly, it also helps you build the skills to find and confront the answers.You walk away a better leader and a better person.


Head of Factual, BBC Scotland

My instincts as a documentary filmmaker lead me towards being able to establish the facts, search out the truth in a situation. Over the years I have trained myself to detect woolly thinking and be suspicious of the so-called “soft” side of management. In contrast, Personal Leadership & Success uses science, logic, clinical practice, neuroscience and a hefty dose of humanity to give participants a toolkit that will help them see more clearly why, as a leader, you sometimes come unstuck and what techniques can help you do something about it. It only takes one snap of the synapses to realise that if you can understand your own flaws and development areas and be given ways to work with them, that your human instinct is to share those solutions with your own team. This is the true genius of this course. For every single participant in this course there will be a better manager and dozens, hundreds of people who will ultimately also benefit.


Zone Manager, Boart Longyear

I feel that the principles of Personal Leadership as taught by Professor Wadhwa are key to excelling in one’s career and I'm amazed they are so rarely shared elsewhere. Since taking the course, I have been able to manage my time more effectively, make better use of feedback and coaching, and maintain my optimism in the face of adversity and stressful situations.   Specifically, I feel that through harnessing the power of Deliberate Practice (as learned in this course) I have been able to turn weaknesses into strengths and natural strengths into insurmountable competitive advantages. The concepts taught in Personal Leadership & Success, if internalized through diligent practice, can help one tap one’s personal effectiveness and self mastery no matter the circumstances. From the high-school student to the CEO—all will find their effectiveness and happiness enhanced by this course.


Investment Banker, Credit Suisse

Like every other participant in the class, I brought with me a unique set of experiences and was armed with the ability to set goals and achieve them. What the class inspired in me and my classmates was a more enlightened view that goals without purpose and a life without values will never bring total fulfillment. Personal Leadership & Success empowers you with many tools to live a purpose-driven life and will build your courage to take on the challenge of a life-long journey to improve yourself and the world around you.


Analyst, Lane 5 Capital Management

As an investor, managing my emotions and time are crucial. Opportunities are created when other investors allow their emotional reactions to cloud their judgment. Opportunities are lost if I fall prey to the same external forces. I cannot afford to get weighed down by uncertainty or negative but irrelevant minutia, yet these are emotionally consuming features of every investment I consider. Personal Leadership & Success taught me to challenge the notion that one’s emotions are an uncontrollable part of daily life. By learning to recognize my emotions as they occur, and separate myself from them, I can adjust and control for them, and even turn them to my advantage.  While total mastery of the self is a lifelong pursuit, I developed in a matter of weeks enough competence to yield real dividends. I attribute to Personal Leadership & Success an enhanced sense of freedom, greater clarity under stress, greater comfort with uncertainty, and improved decision making.


Principal, Pouschine Cook Capital Management, LLC

Personal Leadership & Success drives self-awareness. I learned to make time for myself and unplug – outside of work, family and friends. This introspective time often leads to free association of ideas and the ability to solve the day’s challenges. The course improves EQ, which in private equity can be as important as IQ. I have seen highly successful people, who had never faced adversity, crack under the prospect of failure. Personal Leadership & Success has given me the confidence to accept risk as I reach for my goals, knowing I have a foundation to weather adversity.


Founder, Syntella Partners

Since the time I took Personal Leadership & Success, I have started my own company, and it has become especially important to stay focused and calm as one deals with the inevitable ups and downs. The tools that I learned in Personal Leadership are an integral part of successfully navigating that process.  Understanding one's mood and behavioral biases is invaluable, since emotions and mindsets are frequently the primary driver of human decisions. Personal Leadership & Success constantly emphasized this type self-reflection in a systematic way.  The themes of balance and harmony and how they inform our intuition are now at the core of my regular thought process. This approach has made it much easier to diagnose and address the myriad uncertain situations that one encounters on a daily basis. Every business school in the country should be teaching some version of the Personal Leadership curriculum. It was by far the most valuable class that I took at Columbia Business School.


Project Manager, Department of Defense

For me personally, Personal Leadership & Success has been transformational. I have been able to incorporate some of the practices outlined during the course with a good amount of success…I was arguing a point with another manager that was in charge of a working group. He had a very authoritative style, attributed to the culture he was working in (military). The manager lashed out at me during a discussion, seemingly unexpectedly. I immediately used a technique I learned from Personal Leadership & Success of reducing the emotion of anger that was starting to build within me, and I instead was able to diffuse the situation by maintaining a calm demeanor. After the meeting was over, I was able to use another Personal Leadership technique to reflect on the situation and to identify my contributions to it. I concluded that I had been arguing a point that did not interest his organization, but instead affected the overall initiative at a strategic level. I spoke to him later and used a third Personal Leadership technique and treated him with respect and understanding. Our relationship subsequently improved and we were able to collaborate more effectively, beyond previous levels.

I have observed that I now engage people with mutual respect, openness and love, instead of at a distance and a tendency to judge quickly. In turn, the majority of people have been responding with reciprocal openness. One of the nicest outcomes of the course has been something that my wife said to me recently: “John, you’ve really changed, and I like the new you!” She had noticed the cumulative small changes in my behavior/mindset/approach to life. She provided this feedback without solicitation, which was great.


Director of Project Management Office, AirPlus

Personal Leadership & Success gave valuable insights with regards to how important it is to understand and master emotions. As a result of this program I have developed a behavior that has helped to better handle outbursts of fury of my daughter (which often ended in me haven an outburst, too). This has improved the relationship between her and myself dramatically.


Business Development Director, SHL China

There are not many business courses that can be life changing. Out of all the great courses at Columbia Business School, Personal Leadership & Success really was the best and most impactful course for both my career and personal life. It made me understand the value of personal leadership in everything we do and stand for. Every time I face great challenges, adversity or change in my life I find myself better equipped and feel I have a more objective view on situations, including the motivations of the people involved. It has helped me to focus on what I value in life. It has enabled me to also help others in increasing their impact as leaders and to support them in their personal challenges. I have found it a gift and tremendous value to be able to share this framework with others. The course has in a way made me a more inspirational leader towards others.


Product Manager, KIPP Foundation

Even more than two years after taking Personal Leadership & Success, two of my classmates and I continue to discuss PLS issues on a regular basis (monthly or bimonthly calls). We share articles and books that pertain to PLS topics; encourage each other to set goals; and hold each other accountable to making progress on our goals. While that was an eye-opening and intellectually stimulating experience where we learned many valuable frameworks and tools, it has been much more impactful and personally meaningful to take those tools and apply them over the course of the past couple of years. PLS is an area of personal interest so I've read several dozen books and often speak about PLS topics with friends and colleagues -- and what I appreciated most about the course was that it provided a great overview/introduction to the broader body of work. It is clear that Professor Wadhwa is passionate about this subject and it was refreshing to be able to connect with like-minded professionals in the business world who share an interest in personal growth and development.

On a professional level, PLS has helped to inform my decision to make a career switch from pursuing an entrepreneurial path to returning to the education sector full-time. On a personal level, I have experienced a greater sense of fulfillment and peace as my life decisions are more closely aligned with my personal values. I strongly encourage anybody who is interested in this course to make the investment!


Group Business Analyst, Reed Exhibitions

This was the outstanding sit-up-and-take-note session of the week.  We all instinctively know that mental and physical fitness are two sides of the same coin, but this was the first time that I have heard someone explicitly state the case for the ‘mental gym’ and to give concrete and inspirational examples of those who have used such personal mastery to stunning effect.