Professor Sydney Finkelstein Launches New Online Courses

By Kristin Maffei

30 March 2022

Tuck Executive Education is proud to announce the launch of our first specialization with Coursera, Strategic Leadership: Impact, Change, and Decision Making for Work and Life, taught by Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management.

The specialization is composed of four fully asynchronous, online courses on Coursera. Through the series, participants will learn common mistakes that even smart executives make, the neuroscience behind effective decision making, methods of managing and supporting the people around them, and how to bring together all these lessons to be the best possible leader, and person, at work and at home. It is designed for anyone who is ready to hone their leadership skills and grow as a person, whetherthey are a manager or an individual contributor.

We caught up with Professor Finkelstein to learn more about the specialization, and you can read his interview below.

Tell us about this specialization, and how it came about.

After 35 years as a professor, teacher, researcher, and consultant, I was looking for an opportunity to put all that I’ve learned over the years in one place, where millions of people can access that work, and hopefully, where my ideas on leadership, talent, change, strategy, and decision-making can make a difference in people’s lives – both professionally and personally. Coursera is the #1 online platform, with more than 100 million learners, and the perfect partner to make this happen. For the first time, I can train leaders at massive scale. That’s exciting.

What do you think a senior executive will gain from this specialization? What will someone just starting out in their career gain?

For years I’ve consulted with, and done workshops for, senior executives. Now, with these 4 courses, they have access to many of the same lessons I’ve shared in-person with tens of thousands of executives. They will learn how to think about strategy differently, how to make better decisions and avoid the “thinking you’re right when you’re really wrong” syndrome, hire and lead like a superboss, and gain insight to their own lives to become more effective, and maybe even happier, leaders.

People early in their career – and this includes students, people on their first jobs, and all of those people who have gotten their first chance to manage others – want to make it, make it big, make a difference, have an impact, and live a more fulfilling life. These courses will give them the tools to do all of this. The challenge is especially real for first-time managers who are thrown into an entirely new job with often only cursory training on what I means to be a leader of others and how to manage your team. When designing the videos and application exercises in the specialization, I often had exactly that person in my mind. I wanted to give all these talented people not only insight to what they need to do and learn, but also specific techniques, methods, and ideas that will give them the tools, and the confidence, to get to where they want to be.

What do you most hope participants will take away from the specialization?

Anyone can be more successful in their career. They just need to focus on what’s important, and after 35 years I have a pretty good feeling for what that is. But it’s not enough to just “tell” people what you know; it’s just as important to enable them to apply those lessons to their own lives at work and at home. And that’s why I developed more than 60 unique application exercises that bring these lessons to each learner so they can get the most out of them. I’m a big believer that it’s by applying ideas and using them that the real change occurs, and that’s what I set out to do in each of the 4 Coursera courses. 

Would you recommend participants who have taken an executive education program with you take the specialization as well? What about specialization participants—would you recommend they follow this up with an on-campus program?

Absolutely. Lessons of strategy and leadership are never “one and done.” Even if someone attended every executive education class I’ve taught – and I’ve done quite a few over the years – they would still gain some new insights and learning. What’s more, with the videos, application exercises, and other materials, I’ve created an integrated and applied learning platform that no one has seen in my past programs. Finally, online education provides scale, which means in practice that all those executives who attended Tuck courses and said they wished their colleagues could be here can now share that content with them.

Specialization participants are getting something new and impactful, and I hope some will want to come to Tuck to interact in real-time and in-person as well. I may well assign parts of these online courses as prep work for in-person participants, so we can take full advantage of the organic, human interactions that take place when people are in the same room at the same time.

Learn more about Tuck Executive Education