Skip to content Skip to navigation

SGSI 2020: Leadership Laboratories

Course Closed

When students graduate from Stanford, they face a world that expects them to demonstrate not only talent and knowledge, but effective communication and influence skills. Whether they have studied engineering, medicine, education, social sciences or other fields, Stanford alumni often find themselves in positions where their ability to navigate change and interpersonal dynamics is just as important as their subject matter expertise and analytical skills. 

The Leadership Laboratories are a series of experiential simulations and modules, designed to cultivate the skills critical to navigating complex, interdependent teams and organizations. We focus on skills that help you influence outcomes, motivate others, and build productive working relationships—skills that will have a positive multiplier effect on your impact in the workplace.

Monday, Aug. 31, 9 AM - 12:30 PM & 1:30 - 4:30 PM; Tuesday, Sept. 1 – Friday, Sept. 4, 9 AM – 1 PM


  • Evelyn Williams, MA, teaching professor, Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business; academic director, Masters in Management Program

Audience & Capacity

Open to all graduate students in any discipline. Space is limited to 64.


We want you to be a successful graduate student, colleague, team member, manager, and leader.  By participating fully in this course, you will:

  • Apply knowledge and skills of communication, motivation, conflict management, team dynamics, and influence to real life situations
  • Better understand your own ability to influence the contexts around you and also how you are influenced by those contexts
  • Gain more intentionality in the choices you make within organizations and become better positioned to evaluate potential outcomes
  • Apply behavioral analysis and feedback to aid others in their quest for better self-awareness and self-management—and in the process improve your own
  • Synthesize the elements important in creating an innovative, feedback-rich culture

Beyond these formal objectives, this course gives students a better sense of the difference between intentionality and perception, how much their behavior signals who they are to the outside world, and ultimately how much positive impact they can have on the folks and organizations around them.


Having the opportunity to choose one’s work colleagues is rare - we usually inherit them when we join an organization. So,

  • How do you assess people and maximize the performance of the teams you become part of, whether as members or managers? 
  • What interpersonal skills give you influence? 
  • Which interpersonal strengths can propel you to your next promotion?
  • What development areas might prevent your ascension to higher levels of leadership?

In the six Leadership Labs that comprise the course, we focus on these questions.  However, rather than tackle cases where you can distance yourself in comfortable analytical discussions, we throw you into experiential exercises, testing your ability to build effective relationships, motivate others, and influence outcomes.  These Leadership Labs are definitely not a spectator sport as you’ll be asked to further your leadership and interpersonal skills in every Lab.

Together in the Leadership Labs, we create a feedback intensive environment where you continually evaluate your own behavior, reflect on it, and choose productive ways to interact with others. As with many things in life, what you get out of these experiences will depend on what you put into them.  This course provides the playing field for you to do that experimentation; the more you get out on the field and play, the more you will get out of the Labs.

Past participants who took this course said the following about their experience:

“...the course was a fantastic dive into some of the science and practices behind good teamwork, communication, and leadership.” -SGSI 2017 Participant

Very engaging & intensive, with ample chances to practice and get objective feedback.” -SGSI 2019 Participant

This class teaches you skills for life! You can apply the leadership skills you learn and practice in any professional, academic, or personal setting. This course helps reveal your strengths and weaknesses in critical and insightful ways.” -SGSI 2019 Participant

Additional Course Expectations

  • Completing the online orientation and readings is required.
  • As part of this course, about 1-2 hours of work per day outside of class is expected.
  • Full attendance is expected.

SUNet ID required to log in; all SGSI correspondence sent to your Stanford email account.

Resource Type: 
Course or Workshop
Target Audience: 
All Graduate Students
Time Commitment: 
Learning Experience: