What MBA Programs Can Do To Grow The Leaders Of Tomorrow

24/08/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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It has been a longstanding myth that leaders are born, and that leadership is inherent only in a fortunate few. Well, myths are meant to be shattered. Time and again, evidence has shown that leadership skills are inculcated through experience, role-modelling, and mentoring. The right attitude and values form the core ingredients of a good leader. As rightly quoted by Vince Lombardi, "Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."

To really succeed, it is imperative for organisations to nurture a culture where every individual is a leader, with or without a title. Having employees with a sense of responsibility and the appropriate skills to make proper decisions in tough situations is a company's biggest asset. But as every asset requires an investment, leaders too require an investment of knowledge and skills. A well-designed management and leadership program has the potential to groom future leaders. A plethora of management courses focus only on developing the technical and strategic skills of management professionals, rather than their capabilities to execute successfully, which is the hallmark of great leaders.

It is crucial to enhance both the technical skills as well as emotional intelligence - which every good leader needs -- of MBA students. Courses need to emphasise self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. As potential leaders, students need to acquire the ability to understand and respond to emotions, mitigate stress, and be aware of the repercussions their words or actions may have on others. Having students involved in programs on Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility can help to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility towards a group, an organization and society as a whole. The association of students with government bodies as a part of their internship can go a long way in strengthening their understanding of problems and decision-making.

"There is great scope for improvisation in an MBA program, moving away from the standard framework where everything boils down to numbers, theories and business models."

There is great scope for improvisation in an MBA program, moving away from the standard framework where everything boils down to numbers, theories and business models. B-schools can impart leadership lessons by integrating the philosophy of theatre in their programs. This interactive and innovative method can enhance the approach towards preparation and aid in simulation of real-life business problems. As the military has been the breeding ground for real heroes and leaders, correlating military concepts with business principles can provide a different perspective to the students. The importance of discipline, quick decision-making in high stress situations, effective communication and goal-setting can be better inculcated.

Another excellent arena of inspiration is sports. Learning the ropes of leadership from real-life sports events, highlighting strategising, execution, man-management, critical thinking, building alliances, handling success and failure can prove to be life-changing for students. Mythology, being an integral part of Indian culture, can prove to be the source for leadership and management lessons which can be assimilated in various MBA programs. This can help strengthen the core skills and principles of students who are to take-up the mantle of future leaders.

These novel ways of imparting management lessons can prove to be path-breaking in the field of higher education. It gives important insights about the essential factors required to make efficient leaders. As Warren Bennis wisely said, "Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." The most common element in visionaries like Steve Jobs, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Subhash Chandra Bose, and other stalwarts was their ability to see ahead and the courage to make a change. Irrespective of the geographical boundaries and areas of interest, they were successful in delivering what they were committed towards. Today, India requires many such leaders to make a dent in the universe, to venture into unexplored territory and lead the way for future generations. B-schools hold the key to unlock the true potential of young India and usher in an era of innovative and responsible leadership.

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