…you want to be a leader?
And now raise your hand if you want to be a manager?
If you are the audience I think you are, i.e. 90% MBA or potential MBA students and a handful of others including family and friends, most of you will have raised your hands to the first question. Everyone wants to be a leader. No one wants to be a manager. Yet, most of the skills you learn in the core courses at an MBA are geared to making you a first-class manager. You learn the basics. The nitty-gritty. How to read a balance-sheet. How to calculate an NPV. No one mentions leadership. Everyone thinks they have those elusive leadership talents, but few claim out loud they want to be the next generation’s leader. That would be pretentious. And people don’t want to be thought of as pretentious. So we dabble in this technical subject, and that financial calculation but no one mentions what we’re doing this for: to create the next generation leaders. It doesn’t feel like that though. It feels like the next generation managers. To create the next generation leaders, you need to inspire and encourage dreams. What if we could change the world? What if we could also be a force for good instead of just a force for more money?
So what sparked this rant? The elective I’m taking this semester, called Adventures in Management Innovation, taught by Julian Birkinshaw and Gary Hamel. The course is about past Management Innovations (ranging from cost accounting (isn’t it strange… I’d never realised that for the longest part of humanity’s existence, we didn’t have cost accounting… aahh…. bliss to brand management, to total quality management) but also, and probably even more so, about new Management Innovations for the future. Julian and Gary believe that new models of management are needed for the future, and they are now doing a lot of research into this field. And they want to inspire us. To think beyond what we know right now about management and leadership. To challenge current beliefs about management structures and practices. And to search in different ways and in different areas for new inspiration for the next generation management innovations. Talk about inspiring! I walked out feeling like for the second time since I’ve been here (first time was a talk at Orientation), there’s more to life than just the here and now, more than just the established ways of doing that we’re taught, there’s a whole sea of ideas out there waiting to be discovered. And I love it!
If you want to know more, try and get a hold of a copy of Feb 2006’s Harvard Business Review, where Gary has published an article on this topic.
[As an aside: Don’t get me wrong, I do think that the technical skills are of utmost importance. You don’t want to be visionary, facing you gaze up to the sky and fall into a hole because you weren’t watching the ground too.]
Last night’s Winter Magic party rocked! The decorations were splendid, the vodka luge a big hit (apparently, it was too cold for me to venture outside), the waiting staff walking around with desserts a luminous idea, in short: it was a big success. Well done Al and the Winter Magic team, and thanks for putting so much effort in!
One of my favourite weekly reads is Mrs. Moneypenny’s column in the weekend edition of the FT, she’s feisty and witty, works in the City and has her own views on life, work and love. I’ve got to share this excerpt in last week’s column, which I thought was absolutely brilliant, both in thought and in execution:
It’s a privilege to be a woman working in the City — nowhere else will a competent woman come to the attention of others as easily. Putting it in another way, there is no other environment quite so full of intellectually challenged testosterone-fuelled human beings who are so susceptible to flatter. If you can’t use being a woman in a scenario like that, when can you?
[copyright Mrs. Moneypenny for the FT]
Sorry for the long post. I’m on another procrastination fest, I’m supposed to be writing my exchange-program essays. Which I’ll start on as soon as I finish this post, check on our OTM simulation, cook some dinner (risotto tonight), eat it, chat to my housemates…