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Shared Growth: A Case for Executive Development Within Your Field

By Stephanie Hodnett, Executive Director, Executive Programs, Rotman School of Management

As you rise in the ranks of your organization’s hierarchy, you will likely find yourself called to make or at least weigh in on decisions outside of your field of expertise. A seat at the senior management table means interacting meaningfully with peers leading different silos than the one you are most familiar with. How do you represent the interests of your area while collaborating with others for the common purpose of the entire organization? This is what is known as cross-functional leadership and may be challenging or even uncomfortable at times. Those who excel at it will have outsized influence at their firm and will likely earn outsized professional rewards to match.

Developing the skill of representing your own expertise while contributing to decisions outside your normal comfort zone can be accelerated via an executive education program focused on doing exactly that. At the Rotman School, we have found it can be even more valuable to develop that skill in a cohort composed of those in your same field of expertise.

When the leadership development class you are in is made up of your peers in similar roles at other organizations, you gain several benefits. First, it can mitigate the isolation you might be feeling and lessen natural feelings of anxiety about learning new skills. You will be surrounded by people who have a similar professional background as you, and who will probably share many of your same challenges. It is a pleasure to watch the relief on the faces of participants encountering a room full of their peers, which in turn creates a shared purpose and openness to learning.

Second, you will form lasting relationships that will be useful for years after the executive program ends. There is something about the shared vulnerability of a learning experience that forms strong bonds among classmates usually far greater than the kinds formed at conferences or other types of professional gatherings.

It is for these reasons that Rotman offers a variety of leadership courses tailored to specific positions or professional fields, including in-house counsel, board directors, police, healthcare professionals, investor relations, and several more. We have now taken this concept a step further with a suite of courses aimed at senior leaders in human resources. You can choose to take a single program to advance your leadership skills and influence, or take three or more to earn Rotman’s HR Business Certificate, marking the significant commitment you have made to professional growth.

As the human resources profession has rightfully seen its value increasingly recognized as core to the success and longevity of any organization, the responsibilities have grown along with it. As always, we hope that the programs we offer at the Rotman School will empower leaders to rise to the increasing demands placed upon them.

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