Monash Business School’s healthy student initiative recognised internationally

An innovative program developed by Monash Business School to help its MBA students improve resilience and elevate their leadership performance has been recognised globally.

People doing yoga

The ‘Leading Sustainably: Turning Hope into Habit’ program is one of just 30 innovations internationally to be showcased by leading global accreditation body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), through its third annual Innovations that Inspire challenge.

The challenge recognises institutions from around the world serving as champions of change in the business education landscape, with a specific focus on innovation in leadership development, a key pillar of the accreditation process.

The AACSB provides quality assurance, business education intelligence, and professional development services to over 1,600 member organisations and nearly 800 accredited business schools worldwide.

Monash Business School is very proud to hold ‘Triple Accreditation’ by three global accrediting bodies: the Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS); and the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Monash Business School is one of only 86 business schools in the world and the only Group of Eight business school to hold all three accreditations.

Online app and assessments

The ‘Leading Sustainably: Turning Hope into Habit’ program enables Monash Business School MBA students to assess and change behavior through an online app and assessments.

Launched in 2017 to address the pressures and stresses business leaders face over their careers, the aim of the program is to improve student physical, cognitive and emotional resilience, as well as to elevate skills necessary to impact and influence others, says Professor Anne Lytle, Director of Leadership at Monash Business School.

“Future leaders need the knowledge and skills to manage individuals, teams and organisations, and to do so, they must also manage themselves and their own physical and mental capacity over careers spanning more than 50 years,” says Professor Lytle.

“They face continuous stimulation, ever-increasing information overload and perpetual stress, where focus and resilience are critical determinants of success.”

Healthy routines

In order for careers to be sustainable, it is important for leaders to have healthy routines around exercise, nutrition, sleep, relaxation, social support and good emotional habits. The program combines health assessments, a daily journal, workshops and an online app designed to set and track goals.

Students first receive a comprehensive health assessment – including details of their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, risk of developing diabetes, risk of asthma, body fat percentage, waist circumference, flexibility, aerobic fitness, muscle endurance and abdominal strength.

They then wear a heart monitor for three days while creating a daily journal of activities. This is designed to show how a student’s lifestyle impacts on their stress levels and whether they are providing their bodies and minds with enough recovery.

The program also includes face to face workshops to discuss the results and how to build resilience. Students are then given an ‘action plan’ on how to improve their health results and use LEDA – an online app - designed to embed behaviour change.

For many students, the health findings came as a shock, says Professor Lytle.

“A number of students who thought of themselves as “fit”, perhaps because they had been in the past, were surprised at the decrease in their aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility now that they were juggling high-level careers and young children,” she says.

“Many students were also surprised at how significantly their diets departed from current recommendations.” However, with the assistance of the LEDA app, students set goals to change behaviors to improve their health.

“The LEDA app also coaches students to cope with stress and difficult situations using our ‘mindshifting’ process,” she says. “They learn to calm themselves, reappraise the situation and respond constructively rather than reactively.”

Professor Lytle says the LEDA app is designed to give Monash Business School’s MBA students the building blocks they need to be great leaders and facilitates the development and practice of leadership skills more broadly.

“Learning outcomes are to elevate their impact and influence, and to lead others successfully and sustainably in the new world of work,” she says.

“The program is also well-suited to organisations to transform good managers into great leaders.”

There are plans to begin piloting this program with groups of undergraduate students this year.

To learn more about AACSB Innovations the Inspire.