Management education has tended to focus more on techniques, theories and frameworks to anchor the development of graduates as future leaders. This toolkit has run its life and needs transformation
It is now well established that the cupboard for leaders and leadership is bare. This unfortunate reality is largely because of the over-glorification of the leader and the underinvestment in the leadership processes. Leaders have been seen as messiahs with miraculous capabilities. However, messiahs do not turn up often or when a system or nation needs them. The business leadership education space is no exception.
Leadership is about mastering the paradoxes. It is about the natural processes of finding meaning in the “yin and yang” of “living and doing”. Leadership is a process and not a position. Leaders are those who are able to find a meaning and coherence between apparently contradicting choices. It is about discovering higher order purpose for self and the ecosystem that one serves.
Business management education, over decades, has however tended to focus more on techniques, theories, styles and frameworks to anchor the development of B-school graduates as potential future leaders. This toolkit has run its life and needs transformation, both in terms of positioning what type of leaders would be required tomorrow and how they should be nurtured today. The existing tools have not sufficiently impacted and inspired the mindset of B-school graduates to realise their potential to lead, through focus on action. The “intent to lead” has begun to overpower the “action of leadership”.
I must add that we, at WeSchool, have invested, over the years, in embedding design thinking principles in the “doing and reflecting” processes of content creation and pedagogical choices. We are also collaborating with the best in the business to learn how to prepare the “global citizen manager” of today and tomorrow. The Center for Creative leadership, a US-based organisation in the space of leadership development and design impact, has joined hands with WeSchool recently to create a programme titled “Global Citizen Leader” that has a blend of innovation and leadership development.
Leadership is both a responsibility and a privilege—one cannot thrive without the other. Leadership is about consistency, being predictable and dependable. Leadership is discovery. Young management students are living in a world that is constantly changing and, thus, the education system also needs to adapt to those changes in order to prepare them for the future.
The author is group director, WeSchool