Effective Leadership Skills: The Power of Self-Awareness

How do you develop leadership skills when you’re a busy executive? Our MBA course ‘Personal leadership development’ seeks to strengthen introspection through self-assessments.

If you’re a middle manager in hospitality, how do you develop effective leadership skills especially when you’re a busy executive holding a demanding role? At EHL, as part of our MBA in Hospitality, we offer a course entitled ‘Personal leadership development’ which seeks both to strengthen introspection through self-assessments and develop leadership skills.

Personality assessments

Participants – who continue in their roles in full-time employment while studying on the program – complete a series of general personality assessments and we debrief each person on the results, both individually as well as via group exercises. Then, in conjunction with more specific self-assessments, we focus on particular aspects of individual differences, as well as on certain specific skills.

A highlight of the course is a personalized feedback session for each of the participants, who complete three assessments before the course and receive individual one-hour coaching sessions, during which they receive their results along with insights from a certified practitioner. This session also allows for the integration of the results from the various self-assessments completed in class. The model we use for these assessments, the ‘Hogan’ model, focuses on individual values and motives, on general personality characteristics, as well as on aspects of personality that could possibly derail a professional career.

Personal development plans

In addition, assignments before and after the course focus on establishing personal development plans. In these assignments, participants summarize their past and current career paths, identify challenges and opportunities, examine these in line with the insights obtained during the course and, finally, outline a coherent narrative for how they intend to develop their careers in the short and medium terms.

Learn more about the MBA in Hospitality

Leadership skills development

As for developing leadership skills, the course begins with an in-depth look at decision-making, one of the key functions of every leader.

Based on a series of exercises, we identify common shortcomings or “biases” in individual decision-making and discuss how to address them.

Participants then explore the topic of participative leadership. Based on a series of small case studies, we identify together different characteristics of decision-making situations and under which conditions more autocratic or more participative leadership styles are appropriate.

The course then explores different leadership styles, highlighting examples of leaders from the hospitality industry.

We examine how leaders can adapt their leadership style to specific situations. Based on a video case study, participants also analyze the fundamental differences between transactional and transformation leadership. A discussion of different theories of motivation – complete with their implications for leaders – rounds off this part.

One of the issues the hospitality industry is currently grappling with is how to empower employees. In the course, we discuss empowerment and empowering leadership from a practical viewpoint. This discussion includes the potential risks of empowerment, cultural barriers that may hinder empowerment, as well as practical steps that need to be undertaken to make an empowerment strategy successful.

Another topic that is discussed at length concerns the challenges of leadership in a team setting. This topic is explored on the basis of a case study and an experiential team exercise. In this context we also explore individual preferences of participants when working in teams and we highlight specific leadership styles to be implemented in teams, both real and virtual.

Change leadership

At the end of the course comes the most challenging exercise. Change leadership is an increasingly relevant topic for managers at all levels of the hospitality industry.

We discuss recommendations for successful change leadership as a concept. Participants then get the opportunity to engage in a complex, computer-based change leadership simulation during which they can use a range of tactics to implement a large-scale change initiative in an organization. The simulation is followed by debriefs in teams and in the class as a whole.


From these discussions, participants emerge with a clearer understanding of who they are, where they want to go, and what skills they can use and/or may have to develop in order to succeed in their personal career plans.

Interested in discovering more soft skills taught within the EHL group? Discover all the hospitality skills that will be needed in the future.

Dr Steffen Raub
About the author

Steffen Raub, Ph.D. is Full Professor of Organizational Behavior at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), Switzerland, where he formerly occupied the positions of Associate Dean, Vice Dean and Acting Dean.

Before joining EHL he was on the faculties of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand, HEC Geneva and HEC Lausanne. He was also a Visiting Scholar at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Visiting Associate Professor at National University of Singapore.

Steffen’s research focuses on proactive service behaviors, organizational citizenship behavior, empowerment and sustainability/corporate social responsibility. It has been published in leading outlets including the Journal of Applied Psychology, Human Relations, Human Resource Management, Work & Stress, as well as the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and the International Journal of Hospitality Management. Steffen is also the co-author of a best-selling volume on Managing Knowledge.