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How B-schools can create great leaders
Hoshidar K Press | October 11, 2006
If leadership has become a critical issue in today's corporate world, it is because good leaders are hard to come by. Companies are willing to pay a premium to get charismatic leaders on their side.
The challenge before B-schools now is to incubate good leaders and plant in them the seeds that will grow them into great leaders in the years to come.
There is a debate on whether leaders are born or made. I believe that leadership is a state of mind and a keen understanding of human behaviour and psychology, and a passion to achieve and facilitate success are its key ingredients.
Since experience also plays a part, a management school may not be able to churn out readymade leaders, but it can provide students with this cognitive knowledge and the belief to go out into the real world and lead.
But remember, people follow a leader, but they don't like to be led. The key to becoming a good leader is to convince your people to follow you, without asserting your authority unless absolutely necessary. And here's where human psychology comes in.
Although subjects like interpersonal relations and sensitivity training figure high in B-school curricula, they should rank at par with the core subjects.
It is amazing how an understanding of subtle cultural differences, etiquette and social grace go a long way in maintaining motivation at the work place, and in getting more out of people.
Soft skills, too, are important. I have found that although management graduates are very articulate, sometimes, their written communication skills are found wanting.
This acquires great importance in today's age of globalisation. Management schools should work on making their students well-rounded communicators. Effective communication is one of the prerequisites of a good leader.
It is heartening to see that a significant number of B-school grads value intangible qualities such as nationalism and nation building and rank them above money.
I have read of many graduates of the Indian Institutes of Management who have turned down lucrative offers of employment and preferred to start their own ventures to make a difference to our society in their own way - whether it is by improving the level of sports in India or starting a computer centre to teach underprivileged kids. This is something B-schools should build on. Some leaders are born great, some achieve greatness and some have it thrust upon them.
B-schools should study the grounds that make for great leadership and work to set the stage to create a future generation of leaders who will take this country to the next level of greatness.
Hoshidar K Press is executive director and president, Godrej Consumer Products Limited. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in 1972.