• Leadership Lessons from the Normandy Invasion

    What will students gain from this program?

    Students will apply the broad leadership lessons from the Normandy invasion to their own reflection on:

    • Impact of planning and leading in a large and complex organization: Discuss the impact of leadership structures in preparing for and executing an operation that depends on high degrees of intra-organizational coordination and planning.
    • Collaboration across units within an organization: Explore how a large organization balances learning from front-line contributors and top-level leadership during the execution of a highly planned operation to adapt to the situation and continue effective pursuit of the mission and goals.
    • Effective leadership: Compare and contrast the American performance at Omaha and Utah and explore the organizational and leadership issues that led to different outcomes and events on the battlefield.
    • Cross-cultural leadership: Develop a deeper understanding of the Normandy Invasion including Allied planning, preparation and training, German response, and the leadership decisions on both sides during the execution of the invasion and follow-on operations.

    Academic Program Overview

    On 6 June 1944, an Allied coalition conducted the largest seaborne invasion in history, crossing the English Channel to assault the shores of Normandy, eventually liberating France and fighting across the continent to defeat Germany. Detailed planning and preparations for the invasion had been conducted over several years. Many factors ensured success, notably the leadership and valor of the ground forces making the assault against an adversary making a supreme effort to repel the invasion. In addition to those engaged in close fighting on the ground, there were many others on the Allied side that made critical contributions from the air, through engineering and logistics, and in Civil Affairs operations. A well-rounded understanding of the challenges and ultimate success of this endeavor warrants a thoughtful grasp of all of these dimensions.

    Through graduate seminar style discussions and on-site discussions in Normandy, students will explore the invasion and the host of leadership lessons to be drawn from this experience such as leading in a large and complex organization, collaboration across units within an organization, managing alliances, cross-cultural leadership, adapting to competitive response and the impact of planning on execution. Students will have the opportunity to apply these broad lessons to their own reflections on effective leadership.

    Faculty Leads

    Mark Haskins

    Doug McKenna


    11–19 May 2019

    Host Partner

    U.S. Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW)

    What have students said about the program?

    "I was excited about the history, but was blown away by the depth of the discussion regarding the invasion's application to modern business challenges."

    "I truly enjoyed the experience and thought the execution was well done. The size of the program was perfect. All of the stops and faculty/marine participants greatly enhanced the learning experience. Definitely learned a lot and would recommend to other students."

    "Normandy with Darden students, Darden faculty and "General Rudd" was a humbling and fascinating experience. I couldn't have asked for a more genuinely interested and motivated discussion group to examine the leadership perspectives of one of the greatest undertakings in human history."

    "The D-Day global leadership ride was one of the best experiences I've had at Darden."

    Click here to learn more about what Darden is doing in Europe.