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Monday, November 27, 2006

What MBA programs do not teach about leadership



7 Ways Leaders Handicap Themselves


This post came aout from an interesting meeting a few months ago, I met with a young business leader who had asked for assistance, she was personable and had a good business running but was not sure about where she was going, I spent a couple of hours with her and talked through some senarios regarding growth strategies for her company at that time, she could have a brillant future if she only looked up from the day to day business of selling, and look strategically at the future, tactical planning has it's place , but strategic thinking wins the battle. I have since been deluged with "sales"e-mails from her hawking her companies courses, which has turned my right off helping her and I believe an abuse of our first meeting, I feel used so what is my motivation help the company or even use her services ?.

In a new book that captures the essence of leadership—Great Leadership—author Anthony Bell writes, "For all the importance of great leadership, it doesn’t happen by itself. Without a framework, leaders often handicap themselves in a number of significant ways." He outlines these issues:

1 Leaders tend to operate from intuition and experience. While both can serve a leader well, neither is infallible: intuition cannot compensate for the blind spots every person has, and experience is a tutor with a limited perspective.
2 Leaders tend to become leaders because they are technically competent. Being good at something singles them out for promotion. But what makes people effective at one level can make them ineffective at another.
3 Leaders tend to operate with the skills that were most useful two levels below their current level. In part because of the way they were chosen for the leadership track, they tend to maintain the mind-set of the level where they last felt real mastery.
4 Few leaders are taught to lead. Because most leaders learn intuitively from experience, that experience is seldom analyzed with any depth, consistency, or systematic feedback. A few leaders have the good fortune of being taught informally by a particularly effective boss or mentor, but such teachers are rare. Even fewer leaders are taught formally; academic institutions focus on the organization of work more than on the application of leadership. MBA programs don’t teach leadership, or, at best, they teach only a narrow portion of it. Many corporations offer inhouse programs, but few combine strong teaching with the kind of in-depth coaching that guarantees its application.
5 Leaders tend to stop learning in midlife. By the time people hit their forties, many rely on their previous knowledge and have only a shallow commitment to ongoing self-education and self development.
6 Few leaders lead from a clear sense of purpose. Even fewer lead from a clear sense of noble purpose.
7 Few leaders know how to pass on what they know. Not having been taught, they have little idea how to help others develop their leadership skills.

Bell writes, "To overcome these obstacles, leaders need some guidelines; they need a framework for understanding and exercising great leadership. Leaders stand or fall not so much by their talent or lack of it as by their understanding or misunderstanding of what great leadership is." In his book he discusses a well presented framework that consists of three dimensions of leadership—organizational, operational, and people leadership. He demonstrates how these three dimensions, when properly integrated and applied, will greatly enhance the quality of your leadership.


Slainte
Gordon

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