Over the past decade at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB), we've developed a practice of communication coaching that empowers our MBA students to communicate effectively and authentically. We encourage them to journey from uncertainty, to competence, to expertise, and ultimately to mastery.

I struggle with that first term, “uncertainty,” because when our students show up each fall, they are in a wide range of places regarding experience, facility with communication techniques, and confidence. Some are terrified at the prospect of speaking in public or sharing their writing; others have practiced these skills for years while working in consulting, banking, or private equity, and feel they have nothing to learn from the coaches and instructors. Others still have already published books or delivered talks at Davos or TED. To imagine a “one size fits all” approach to communication is folly. Peers at other institutions have told me stories of how hard it is to teach communication in a required course to such a diverse population.

So instead of adding to the core requirements at the GSB, we went a different route: we decided to tailor our communication offerings as fully as we could. By taking this approach, our offerings became sought-after electives with long waiting lists. From zero offerings in the fall of 2007, as of the 2019 writing of this book we have 20 sections of communication courses taught by five different lecturers. In addition, our tenured colleagues ...

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