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University of Exeter Business School

Leading Performance

Module titleLeading Performance
Module codeMBAM845
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Module description

Leading performance in organisations is central to the role of a leader. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, in practice one observation is that many leaders do not seem to be aware of the latest evidence on how to manage performance day-to-day and how to develop a strategic approach to leading performance. However, getting this wrong, entails a range of negative consequences, including retention issues (many people leave their organisation because of their manager), low employee engagement and a team that does not deliver performance and might feel either overwhelmed or not using its talents to its full potential. 

In this module we will take a strategic, evidence based and applied approach to enable you to lead performance considering the whole employee life cycle (e.g., a strategic recruitment strategy, onboarding, managing performance at different levels).

This module builds on MBAM963 - Leading with Purpose in which students will have been introduced to core concepts of well-being and the relevance for leadership. It also links in with MBAM960 Enduring Success.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Drawing on the latest evidence and insights from experts and senior leaders, this module will provide you with the knowledge and skills and self-awareness to lead performance in organisations. You will learn how to overcome some of the key challenges in leading performance.


Specific aims of this module:


  • Evaluate the latest evidence and equip you with skills to lead performance;


  • Increase your self-reflection to help you develop an evidence-based approach to leading performance;


  • Develop a strategic understanding of how to lead performance in organisations by considering context and the whole employee life cycle.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse and evaluate theories and evidence that explore performance in organisations
  • 2. Develop a strategic view of leading performance in organisations
  • 3. Integrate your reflections of your own experience to inform how you can lead performance in teams and organisations;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Critically reflect on evidence that underlies leadership and performance

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Present and defend strategic analyses in multiple forms (written, verbal) based on case material and empirical research
  • 6. Develop awareness through discussion and self-reflection on leading performance in organisations

Syllabus plan

Is performance management broken? In many organisations managing performance is associated with dry, bureaucratic HR procedures. For example, managers typically dislike giving feedback as part of performance appraisals and the teams they lead dread it. We will start off by analysing what’s going wrong and why. And why it’s important to get it right.


What are the key ingredients for effective performance management? We will discuss and practice what leaders need to do to apply an evidence-based approach to performance management. This starts with identifying features of good performance. We will also learn from insights from senior leaders on the latest approaches that organisations are implementing: what are challenges and opportunities?


How do you lead performance in a hybrid world? Hybrid working (a mix of employees working from home and in the office) can have a positive impact on recruitment and talent management. But how do you manage performance in a hybrid world? How do you ensure that your team delivers on agreed objectives, without using performance monitoring devices and without burning your team out? We will diagnose the issues, review the latest evidence and learn from experts how to lead performance in a hybrid world.


Developing a strategic view on leading performance:  Leading performance successfully in organisations requires a strategic view at all levels of leadership. We will unpack what this means by considering every step of the so-called employee life cycle, connecting performance at the recruitment stage with performance management and strategic succession planning.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities24Lectures/seminars & facilitated group discussions
Guided Independent Study76Reading, research, group work, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (in-class)30 minutes1,2,3,4,5,6Verbal feedback and group discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written report1003000 words1,2,3,4,5,6Written feedback from academic tutor

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written reportWritten report1,2,3,4,5,6Next reassessment window

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Aguinis, H. (2023). Performance Management (5th Edition). Chicago Business Press. pp2 – 65.
 (You can access the first chapter here:


Aguinis, H., Joo, H., & Gottfredson, R. K. (2011). Why we hate performance management—And why we should love it. Business Horizons, 54(6), 503-507.


Besieux, T. (2017). Why I hate feedback: Anchoring effective feedback within organizations. Business Horizons, 60(4), 435–439.  (available online from )


Buckingham, M., & Goodall, A. (2015). Reinventing performance management. Harvard Business Review, 2015(April), 1–11.


Catano, V. M., Darr, W., & Campbell, C. a. (2007). Performance Appraisal of Behavior-Based Competencies: A Reliable and Valid Procedure. Personnel Psychology, 60(1), 201–230.


Goler, L., Gale, J., & Grant, A. (2016). Let’s not kill performance evaluations yet. Harvard Business Review, 2016(November), 1–5.


Mackenzie, L., Wehner, J., & Correll, S. (2019). Why most performance evaluations are biased, and how to fix them. Harvard Business Review, 1–8.  (available online from )


Pulakos, E. D., & O’Leary, R. S. (2011). Why is performance management broken?. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 4(2), 146-164.



Web-based and electronic resources:


  • ELE – Faculty to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages


Other resources include podcasts, e.g.:

CIPD podcast: Harnessing pressure to drive performance

Key words search

Leadership; Performance

Credit value10
Module ECTS


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date