595.762.81 - Leading Technical Organizations

Engineering Management
Summer 2024


The course reviews challenges in the leadership of high-technology organizations at the senior technical management level. Using leadership and organizational behavior theories and practices in conjunction with critical thinking, the student will explore topics that include: senior technical leader roles and responsibilities in relation to ethics, leadership style, motivation, and performance of top management teams. The student will also evaluate leading change, communications and organizational relationships, and the potential effects organizational design and processes play in influencing leader behavior. The student will assume the role of a senior technical leader dealing with typical leadership problems in rapidly changing environments.


Profile photo of Alton Harris.

Alton Harris


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Barton Michelson


Course Structure

Course materials are divided into modules which can be accessed by clicking Modules on the course menu. A module will have several sections including overview and to do, readings & instructional materials, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, exceptions are noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates. This 700-level course does not stand on its own. The course material assumes you have successfully completed EN.595.662 or similar course. The pre-requisite course, the materials provided in this course, and your additional independent research are required to successfully complete the case studies, leadership profile paper (due at midterm), and an integrated 10-year personal and professional strategic plan (due at end of term).

Course Topics

Course Goals

To develop insights into various senior technical leadership styles and then apply that knowledge to identifying a personal leadership style, responding to case studies, and developing an integrated personal and professional strategic plan.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


Northouse, P. G. Leadership: Theory and Practice, 9th ed. Sage, 2022.

ISBN-13: 978-1-5443-9756-6

Other Materials & Online Resources

American Psychological Association (APA) style (6th edition) is the required standard for citing and documenting sources which influence a student's thinking. Students should refer to the Writing Center website at http://krieger.jhu.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/ and then click on the tab to the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) for examples in using APA style for in-text citations and developing a reference list.

Student Coursework Requirements

Approximate course breakdown: reading the assigned sections of the texts, journal articles (as well as outside readings), listening to lectures, video clips, and independent research (approximately 5 hours per week); completing case studies, leadership assessments, midterm paper, and final paper (approximately 5-10 hours per week). In addition, time needs to be scheduled for a midterm conference with instructors, conducting an executive interview, collaborating in a group to complete a case study project. The course has been designed to be challenging. You are expected to do independent research in addition to using materials provided and to demonstrate originality of thought in your work. The course contains the following basic student requirements:

Participation (10% of Final Grade Calculation) (4 Discussion Questions - ~89% and 10 Select Graded Sync Sessions – ~11%)

Discussion forum exchanges are low stakes and are part of the participation grade. There will be 4-5 students randomly assigned to a group. Students are to provide an original response to the topic and post at least one response to a peer. Students will be required to post an original post before being permitted to see peer posts. Please ensure each member of the group has at least one response to their post. Groups will change throughout the course. Review the Guidelines for Discussion Post found in the discussion forum.

Those choosing to participate in sync sessions will automatically receive credit for certain sync sessions (i.e., Modules 1-6 and Modules 8-11). Alternatively, a student may send instructors an email message during the same week stating you have reviewed the sync session recording to receive the same participation credit.

Assignments (20% of Final Grade Calculation) (1 Case Study - ~89% and 1 Critical Thinking Exercise – ~11%)

Case study - Prepare an original response to the four case study questions at the end of the case. An original response should be about 1,250 to 3,000 words. Students are expected to use in-text citations and provide a reference list following APA style 6th edition to support their response. Submit as a file upload. The assignment will be considered for grading if submitted after the due date. Late submissions receive a reduction of 10 percent of the available points for each day past the deadline. Review the case study rubric for additional grading requirements. 

Graduate-level work is expected. This means responses should be complete to make your position clear to the reader in the context of leadership behavior concepts by referencing material provided (e.g., course text, articles, and video clips) at a minimum. Do not reference lectures in the reference list since the course lectures are not published sources available outside of the course. Note: You can cite (provide an in-text citation) a lecture in the body the text as a personal communication. However, personal communications are not included in the reference list.

Best written student responses are characteristic of demonstrating the use of critical thinking, making connections between concepts and their application in the student’s work environment, defining terms, analyzing concepts from provided, and outside sources, properly cite the works of others, taking definitive position(s) and providing clear rationale for the position(s) taken, and recognizing potential limitations of positions taken. In response to actions, you or others might take, best student responses are characteristic of exploring expected follower behaviors in response to leader actions or inactions based on a specified leadership style (either the student’s personal leadership style or a hypothetical leadership style chosen for an assignment). Therefore, responses need to fully address the questions and demonstrate the use of critical thinking in the context of relevant leadership concepts and theories to receive higher scores. 

Simply responding to the case study questions by echoing the case study content will not result in receiving maximum credit. You are being evaluated on the quality and completeness of your work. An ability to demonstrate critical thinking in developing a response to case study will result in higher scores. The content and quality of each case study response will be evaluated against an established grading rubric posted in Canvas. 

Critical thinking Exercise – This is a low stakes assignment to exercise the mechanics of a qualitative model (i.e., Paul and Elder critical thinking model). This exercise involves completing a provided template. 

Late submissions receive a reduction of 10 percent of the value for each day past the deadline (no exceptions without prior coordination with the instructors and the instructors' acceptance).

Group Project (10% of Final Grade Calculation) (Part A – 67% and Part B – 33%)

The group project spans two weeks. Part A – builds on the critical thinking exercise introduced during Module 1. Part A requires exercising the Paul and Elder critical thinking model in a group to critically think a phase 1, crisis leadership scenario. Part B requires the group to develop a recorded management presentation.

Late submissions receive a reduction of 10 percent of the value for each day past the deadline (no exceptions without prior coordination with the instructors and the instructors' acceptance).

Midterm Paper & Conference (35% of Final Grade Calculation) (Midterm paper ~ 90% and Conference ~ 10%)

Midterm Paper – Develop your leadership profile based on an analysis of assigned assessments from leadership questionnaires located in Northouse text. Write an 8 to 10-page, self-reflective paper  to (1) present a summary of each assigned assessment, (2) discuss how you decided your leadership style based on the leadership assessment results, (3) describe the qualities needed to be an effective leader in your workplace, and list strategies for strengthening your leadership competence and create a plan/timeline for implementing your development plan. The content and quality of the leadership profile paper will be evaluated against an established grading rubric posted in Canvas. Review the Guidelines for Midterm paper.

Conference - Students will schedule a 15-minute conference with instructors. Based on the results of an analysis of assigned leadership assessments, students will discuss in 5 minutes the following: 1: dominant (and back up if any) leadership style(s), 2) most important strengths and weaknesses, and 3) action steps to improve or develop the most important weaknesses. The instructors will provide observations and may ask follow-up questions.

Late submissions receive a reduction of 10 percent of the value for each day past the deadline (no exceptions without prior coordination with the instructors and the instructors' acceptance).

Final Paper – (25% of Final Grade Calculation)

Develop a strategic plan following the Integrated 10-year Personal and Professional Strategic Plan Guidance document. The content and quality of the final paper will be evaluated against an established grading rubric posted in Canvas.

Late submissions receive a reduction of 10 percent of the integrated 10-year personal and professional strategic plan value for each hour past the deadline (no exceptions without prior coordination with the instructors and the instructors' acceptance).

No work submitted after August 22, 2024, will be accepted for grading.

Grading Policy

Final grades will be determined by the following weighting:

ItemPercentage of Grade
Group Project10%
Midterm Paper & Conference35%
Final Paper25%

A grade of A indicates achievement of consistent excellence and distinction throughout the course that is, conspicuous excellence in all aspects of assignments and discussion in every week.

A grade of B indicates work that meets all course requirements on a level appropriate for graduate academic work.

100% - 97% = A+
<97% - 93% = A
<93% - 90% = A−
<90% - 87% = B+
<87% - 83% = B
<83% - 80% = B−
<80% - 77% = C+
<77% - 73% = C
<73% - 70% = C−
<70% - 67% = D+
<67% - 63% = D
<63% - 0%   = F

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.