Developing Leadership

Home Admissions Course Guide Developing Leadership

This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


Developing Leadership

Welcome to MGT 3008BED Developing Leadership! This is an 18-credit-unit, two-term, 3000-level course for undergraduate students offered by the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration.

This course provides you with essential knowledge of leadership and is designed to develop study skills that will help you to gain a broad understanding of leadership concepts and their practical applications, putting you on the path to become a more effective leader in your workplace or organisation. The course covers a broad range of ideas across six units, including concepts, models and theories relating to what it means to be a leader, all the way through to more recent understandings claiming that leadership resides more in collective acts. In addition, you will also learn about key dimensions of leadership from ethical and aesthetic perspectives. We hope that you find this course an exciting and enjoyable experience, which gives you opportunities to be creative, challenge existing approaches and experiment with new ideas.

MGT 3008BED is an adaptation of the UK Open University course B208 Developing Leadership. The course content has been reviewed and adapted by the HKMU course team to suit your learning needs. It is delivered through a set of six study units, course readings, online multimedia components, as well as online and face-to-face sessions.


Course aims

The overall aims of MGT 3008BED Developing Leadership are to:

  • Provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the core concepts, theories and models of leadership and how they relate to your own work and the world around you.
  • Develop your capacity to engage with and apply leadership concepts and skills in relation to your own experiences and self-understanding in order to become an effective leader.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of MGT 3008BED Developing Leadership, you should be able to:

  • Describe and explain key aspects of leadership in relation to: leader perspectives; collective forms; identity and power; ethics; and aesthetics.
  • Critically analyse and discuss various key approaches to leadership.
  • Critically discuss on your own beliefs, practices and working environment in relation to leadership.
  • Communicate an approach to leadership rooted in an understanding of yourself and your working environment.
  • Evaluate and apply different approaches to leadership for effective outcomes.

The course is based around a set of six study units, course readings and multimedia components, supported by online and face-to-face sessions. The study materials for this course can all be found on the MGT 3008BED course page of the University's Online Learning Environment (OLE).


The study units

The study units set out your study pathway through the course readings and other course learning resources. They provide you with learning material, such as case studies, articles, multimedia content and interactive activities that are designed to facilitate your understanding of each topic. As you work through the study units, you will be encouraged to reflect on how the topics you have learned about relate to your own life and work. You'll therefore need to keep referring to the units as you work through the course.

The study units will be provided in ePub format on the OLE. There are six units, and each unit is divided into a number of weeks. The topics of the units are as follows:


Unit 1 Leadership and development

This unit introduces the main topics to be covered in the course and covers the rich concept of leadership and some of its history. It draws attention to how the concept of leadership has developed and matured over time, as academics and practitioners have developed more sophisticated ways of understanding its potential and limitations. The unit also differentiates between two dominant ways of interpreting leadership: as a noun or as a verb.


Unit 2 Leadership as leader perspective

This unit focuses on the role of the leader as a person as the most important component of leadership — hence the name of the block: 'leadership as leader'. The block covers three different approaches to studying leaders — the trait-based approach, the skills, behaviour and situational approach, and the expressive approach.


Unit 3 Collective leadership

In this unit you will explore theories and ideas that we bring together under the heading 'collective leadership'. These theories and ideas present leadership as a practice that is collective rather than individual, shared between people with different roles, practiced across organisational boundaries, and inherently relational. The unit also introduces three theories of collective leadership — distributed, leaderful and relational leadership.


Unit 4 Leadership, identity and power

By focusing on the “Me”, this unit explores the intimate connections between leadership, identity and power. It will introduce you to some basic ideas about personality, and identity, and you will then be asked to make connections with leadership. Ideas of identity and personality are fundamental in helping you explore what kind of leadership theories you have most sympathy with, and are also useful in explaining both the context and foundations of some of the strands of leadership thinking.


Unit 5 Ethics and leadership

This unit explores the relationship between ethics and leadership, introducing you to some of the issues generated by thinking about leadership from an ethical perspective. You will look at models of ethical leadership and use ethics theory to explore different perspectives on how leadership might be practiced ethically. The unit also focuses in on ethics and decision making and you will explore a variety of perspectives, including individual and organisational factors affecting the decision making process. Through this unit, you will extend your knowledge of ethics and leadership by considering theories of ethics that emphasise how we behave and relate to each other, and what this means for practicing ethical leadership.


Unit 6 Leadership aesthetics

Leadership is something that goes beyond the rational and orderly and taps into something potentially more inspiring, emotional and sensory. People often aren't persuaded by the cold and rational — but they might be moved by something beautiful, or repelled by something they find ugly. They can be moved to think about something or someone differently, to appreciate an aspect of an issue or person in a different light, or be inspired to try out an idea they may otherwise not have pursued. Sometimes and in the darker terms, people might also have their emotions and senses manipulated by people who are clever at portraying certain views of leaders or leadership issues. These are all matters of aesthetic leadership, the focus of this final unit of the course.


The course readings

Each study unit has a corresponding set of readings, which were originally developed for the UK Open University course B208. The content of these readings is written by members of the original course team and draw on their areas of research interest. This reading material forms a necessary and essential part of your course learning. The overarching aim of the readings is to enable you to acquire knowledge of the key topics of the course, and they also contain reflection questions to engage you with the ideas presented and deepen your understanding of them. The study units will indicate at which point you should turn to each of the readings. You can access the readings via the OLE.


Learning support

In addition to live online lectures, live online surgeries and compulsory face-to-face day schools, a variety of learning support services is provided to assist you in your studies. These include The Online Learning Environment (OLE), the My Milestone Tracker mobile app and weekly consultation hours.


The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

The main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is HKMU's Online Learning Environment (OLE). There, you will have access not only to the course materials (including the study units and the course readings) in different formats (both PDF and e-Pub versions), but also to a rich array of multimedia materials such as videos, web-based activities, video lectures and more. At the same time, you will be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor interactively via the course discussion board.


Learning support sessions

You will be supported throughout the course by regular online and in-person meetings in the form of live online lectures (2 hours each), live online surgeries (2 hours each) and compulsory in-person day schools (6 hours each). Details of the dates and times of these sessions can be found in the Presentation Schedule, available on the OLE. Optional weekly Zoom or telephone consultations with your tutor will also be offered. The following is a summary of the learning support sessions offered and the units they cover.


Learning support
UnitLive online lecturesLive online surgeriesDay schools (compulsory; in-person)Total support hours
1Lecture 1Surgery 1Day school 16
2Lecture 2
Lecture 3
3Lecture 4Surgery 2Day school 210
4Lecture 5Surgery 3Day school 37
5Lecture 6
Lecture 7
Surgery 48
6Lecture 8Day school 49
Total8 online lectures4 online surgeries4 day schools48 support hours


My Milestone Tracker mobile app

The My Milestone Tracker mobile app is specifically designed to help you to check your study progress, such as your completion of assessment components, along the learning journey of the course.



During the course, students of MGT 3008BED will have their progress assessed both formally and informally.

Informal assessment includes various case studies, online interactive activities, exercises and online discussions that you will undertake while working your way through the study units and course readings.

Formal assessment consists of online lecture polls (i.e. quizzes), assignments, application- based assessments (ABAs) and an oral presentation, to pace you to learn effectively throughout the two terms of the course. More specifically:

  • There are eight online lecture polls worth 10% of the total marks of the course. The lecture polls will cover topics from Units 1–6 which are covered in the online lectures. They will be conducted on the OLE.
  • There are three individual assignments, worth 55% of the total marks of the course. You are expected to apply, organise and elaborate on what you have learnt to complete writing tasks on specific leadership topics. The three assignments evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 6.
  • There are three application-based assessments (ABAs), to be conducted during compulsory face-to-face day schools 1, 2 and 3, which are worth 15% of the total marks of the course. The three application-based assessments aim to provide you with opportunities to apply what you have learnt in authentic leadership contexts. They evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 5.
  • There is one oral presentation, worth 20% of the total marks for the course. It evaluates study materials covered in Units 1 to 6. The oral presentation is a compulsory assignment.

To pass this course, you are required to obtain no less than 40% of the maximum marks (100%), obtain a pass in the oral presentation (compulsory assignment) and participate in all four compulsory day schools.


Assessment summary

Details and coverage of the formal assessment items are outlined in the following table.


Unit coverageContinuous assessment (100%)
 Online lecture pollsApplication-based assessments (ABAs)AssignmentsOral presentation (compulsory)
Unit 1Lecture poll 1
<Week 1>
ABA 1 (5%)
<Week 8>
Assignment 1 (15%)
<Week 9>
Compulsory oral presentation (20%)
<Week 32>
Unit 2Lecture poll 2
<Week 3>
Lecture poll 3
<Week 6>
Unit 3Lecture poll 4
<Week 10>
ABA 2 (5%)
<Week 15>
Assignment 2 (20%)
<Week 19>
Unit 4Lecture poll 5
<Week 13>
Unit 5Lecture poll 6
<Week 20>
Lecture poll 7
<Week 22>
ABA 3 (5%)
<Week 24>
Assignment 3 (20%)
<Week 29>
Unit 6Lecture poll 8
<Week 25>
Total weighting10%15%55%20%


How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments, and submit them via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.


Assignment submission extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit the assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your Course Coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions must be submitted online via the OLE. Please note the following:

  • Supporting documents must be submitted to justify applications for extensions of over seven days.
  • Applications for extensions should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  • Applications are considered by:
    • your tutor for extensions of up to seven days;
    • the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    • the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University's policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure, including the number of weeks allocated to each unit, consolidation weeks and assignment completion weeks, the assessment requirements and the learning support provided.


Term 1

Unit / Study taskWeekAssessmentLearning support
Unit 1 Leadership and development1Lecture poll 1Live online lecture 1
Unit 2 Leadership as leader perspective3Lecture poll 2Live online lecture 2
5 Live online surgery 1
6Lecture poll 3Live online lecture 3
U1–2 Consolidation week7  
 8ABA 1
(during Day school 1)
Day school 1
Assignment preparation week9Assignment 1 
Unit 3 Collective leadership10Lecture poll 4Live online lecture 4
U3 consolidation week12  
Unit 4 Identity and power in leadership13Lecture poll 5Live online lecture 5
15ABA 2
(during Day school 2)
Day school 2
U4 consolidation week16  
Term break


Term 2

Unit / Study taskWeekAssessmentLearning support
Assignment preparation week17 Live online surgery 2
 19Assignment 2 
Unit 5 Ethics and leadership20Lecture poll 6Live online lecture 6
22Lecture poll 7Live online lecture 7
U5 consolidation week23  
 24ABA 3
(during Day school 3)
Day school 3
Unit 6 Leadership aesthetics25Lecture poll 8Live online lecture 8
U6 consolidation week27 Live online surgery 3
Assignment preparation week29Assignment 3 
Oral presentation preparation30 Live online surgery 4
Oral presentation week32Oral presentations
(during Day school 4)
Day school 4

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU's School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.


What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organisation. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organisation; to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organisation which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organisation over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organisation.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or day school exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learnt in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let's have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.


Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled 'ABC Consultants' and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC's returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC's relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC's financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC's financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled 'XYZ Industries'.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ's management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick 'wrong' or 'right' answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organisation, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts, and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others' assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible 'right' answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.


Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:


1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.


2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organisation and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organisation: What is the state of this organisation: good, bad or in- between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organisation? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there someone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organisation under investigation? How does this organisation's performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organisation) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

A SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organisation and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organisation, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organisation faces in the external environment.


3 Recognize the case's symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who consults a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.




4 Diagnose the case's problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you're ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor diagnosing a patient's symptoms. Ask yourself 'what seems to be the trouble in this organisation?' and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritise them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.


CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause others?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   


Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.


5 Formulate criteria for a 'good' solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a 'good' solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, i.e. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organisation's culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.


 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3*******


Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It's often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximising solution.

Finally, don't forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?


6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organisation. Suggest a time-frame for the solution's implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organisational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.


7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.


Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarising the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problem. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of 'systems' rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles, and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organisational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

MGT 3008BED Developing Leadership provides you with a broad range of knowledge, theories and ideas relating to what it means to be a leader in a general sense, and also introduces the core concepts of workplace leadership. Through the course, you will learn to be more discerning practitioners of leadership, engaging with the concept in relation to important issues regarding power and identity at work, and the changing nature of work in today’s world. By building on your own experiences, the course also equips you with the opportunity to apply and develop leadership skills in your own life and work.

Across six study units, MGT 3008BED covers the topics of leadership and development, leadership as leader perspective, collective leadership, leadership, identity and power, ethics and leadership and leadership aesthetics.

The course is presented through a blend of written and multimedia materials which can all be accessed via the OLE. As you work through MGT 3008BED, you will need to refer to your study units and course readings, and you are provided with support through regular face-to-face and online sessions.

The course is assessed through eight online lecture polls, three assignments, three application-based assessments and one oral presentation (compulsory assignment) and supported by regular online and face-to-face meetings in the form of lectures (online), surgeries (online) and compulsory day schools (in-person) throughout the two terms of study.

We hope you find MGT 3008BED stimulating and valuable for your personal and professional development.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University.

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