The Graduate Certificate in Leadership

Leaders take initiative, think and plan strategically, overcome obstacles and impact the bottom line.  The Executive Education Graduate Certificate in Leadership program is designed to help participants put effective, collaborative methods of leadership to work in their organizations and leverage the leadership potential of all members of their teams.  Participants will focus on developing their own skills, as well as exploring strategies for building a high performing team, overcoming communication challenges, managing politics in the workplace and taking accountability for results.

Who Should Attend 
The certificate is designed for participants who aspire to become more effective in their leadership and to take on greater leadership challenges; particularly suitable for those transitioning into roles with greater leadership responsibilities.

Program Focus

Essentials of Leadership

During the foundation course, participants will develop an understanding of the importance of leadership at all levels (i.e., leadership capacity) within highly successful companies. They will begin an introspection of their own leadership styles, which will be re-examined throughout future leadership programs. Participants will consider the differences between leadership and management and that leadership is critical in any successful change initiative. Participants will also examine the role that individual disposition plays in the development of leadership style, team interactions, and leader effectiveness. Ultimately this course focuses on helping participants identify the areas of their management style that are strengths and will support their transition into greater levels of responsibility and, perhaps more importantly, identify critical development areas that may hinder their future performance

Leader as Coach

It is a widely accepted truth that for most organizations, it is the capability of the workforce that provides the company’s greatest competitive advantage. Following this insight, it then becomes evident that great leaders not only plan, organize and control – they develop strong capability in their people. This short course is designed to help leaders understand the frameworks and actions they can use to serve as talent magnets for and within their organizations as well as fully developing the capabilities of those leaders junior to them. We will examine differing levels of leadership, transition points between these, and the balanced use of different systems to grow leadership competency. We will pay close attention to coaching and mentorship as primary mechanisms, while understanding the roles that networks, job rotation, action learning and 360 degree feedback play in developing the total leader. We will also examine motivational concepts that support the best utilization of these activities, while matching these to the participants’ natural leadership style. As the war for talent continues to be a competitive differentiator, this short course provides the capabilities to not only win talented individuals into organizations – but to embed the development of leaders into the management culture itself.

Leading Change

The focus of this module is to examine change inhibitors that create stress, waste resources, slow change efforts, or lead to outright failure, and discover how to lead, cope and win in the face of great change.

At the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and apply fundamental areas that are necessary to lead effective individual, team and organizational change efforts.
  • Analyze and evaluate behaviors that lead to successful change initiatives in organizational settings.
  • Managing personal change and the change of others
  • Prepare a change case study and develop an action plan for achieving successful change
  • Serve as an organizational change agent

Strategic Decision Making & Critical Reasoning

 Are you a good decision maker? A recent 2008 study of global firms by McKinsey concluded: “Individual and group psychology can cause irrational decision making by both individuals and organizations, resulting in less than ideal outcomes. Even the best-designed strategic planning processes don’t always lead to optimal decisions.” Improved technical mastery of a discipline (e.g., finance, engineering, geology, etc.) does not improve your competence in strategic decision making. However, career success is intricately linked to competence in strategic decision making.  More Details...

Leading and Managing High Performing Teams

Teams can be a success story or a nightmare. Good teams harness the creative energy of many people into a single dynamic force. Ineffective teams are hampered by internal conflict and poor decision-making. Learn how to avoid these pitfalls by analyzing the characteristics of high-performing teams. Understand preferences of individual team members and how those preferences affect larger team dynamics. Discover techniques to successfully organize teams, create organizational enablers, guide teams through conflict, promote positive action, and derive successful outcomes.

Thinking Strategically

Perhaps the most significant impact leaders can have on organizations is through their ability to think strategically. This is a substantially different activity than building a strategy. The strategic thinker is capable of the following, and thus these will form the elements of the module:

  • Easily sift through data and identify critical information
  • Develop, adopt or accept a desired future end-state
  • Identify key information requirements, resources and decision points along the path to reaching the end state
  • Balance the big picture awareness with tactical level understanding and details
  • Develop, maintain and adjust mental simulations that continually assess the elements above

Length of Program/Cost

Length of Program:

– 12 days

Individuals Modules – 2 day classes

Certificate Cost:   Individual Modules:
$12,900/person   $2,500/class

Fees includes all educational materials, instruction, coaching, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, parking, commemorative gift and a certificate of completion.

Contact the Executive Education Office to register or for more information: 713 348-6060 or

Attendance at a Rice University Executive Education program requires significant advance preparation. Written notice of cancellation must be received more than 30 days prior to the program start date to be eligible for a full refund less a 6% administrative fee.  At Rice University Executive Education’s discretion, qualified substitutes for confirmed registrations may be accommodated prior to the program start date with written notice and will incur no fee for substitution. Notice given after 30 days prior to the program will not be eligible for a refund.

Schedule of Modules

Essentials in Leadership 

August 12-13, 2014


Leader as Coach

August 26-27, 2014


Strategic Decisions Making and Critical Reasoning 

September 9-10, 2014

Leading Change

October 14-15, 2014


Thinking Strategically

April 1-2, 2014; November 4-5, 2014


Leading and Managing High Performing Teams 

 April 23-24, 2014; December 9-10, 2014



D. Brent Smith, Ph.D. 
Associate Dean for Executive Education
Associate Professor of Management and Psychology

Dr. Smith is currently Associate Dean of Executive Education and Associate Professor of Management and Psychology at Rice University. Prior to his current academic appointments, Dr. Smith was a member of the faculty at London Business School and Cornell University where he taught in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Johnson Graduate School of Management. He has also taught for shorter periods at the University of California at Berkeley, Oxford University, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and has conducted executive programs around the world for companies such as Shell, IBM, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Barclays, KPMG, ExxonMobil, BP, ADCO, Lufthansa, DeBeers, Schneider Electric, Microsoft, El Paso Energy, Veritas, Dynegy, ONGC, CGG Inc., Marathon Oil, Citibank, RedBull, Phillip Morris International, Swedbank, Ulster Bank, RBS, and Total. His teaching interests focus primarily on leadership and management development. Dr. Smith’s executive programs include Leading and Managing Change, Talent Development and Coaching, and Leading and Managing High Performance Teams. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park. Read More...

Michael Grojean, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor in Management

Dr. Michael Grojean joins Rice University Executive Education as Professor in the Practice of Management and Executive Director, coming from a managing Partner’s position in an Executive Development Consultancy firm. Prior to that, Dr Grojean was a member of the faculty at Aston Business School in the United Kingdom where he served as Associate Professor of Management, Head of Executive Education and Associate Dean for Corporate Activities and Partnerships. Additionally, Dr Grojean’s broad experience base includes having served as the Leadership Policy Officer for the U.S Army as well as the Director of Human Resources for a 28,000 member organization. Of note, as the Leadership Policy Officer, he was responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing leadership and leader development policy and doctrine for the 1.4 million person active and reserve force in the U.S. Army. In this role, he also authored the Army’s mentorship doctrine, critically changing the organizational paradigm of developmental relationships. Read More...

Vikas Mittal
J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Marketing;
Faculty Director of Health Care Initiatives, Executive Education

Jones Graduate School of Business 

Rick Schell
Lecturer in Management Director of the Undergraduate Business Minor

Rick Schell teaches Leadership Communication and Consultative Selling in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. He is also the Director of the Undergraduate Business Minor program, where he teaches Business Communications. Read More...