So far, business schools have by and large assumed that managerial and leadership skills are a part of business skills and that these can be taught in a similar way as functional knowledge. But we have learned that this will not work. Skill development is much more demanding and inclusive process than transmitting subject knowledge in various functional domains. In the future, most functional knowledge will be available for free, online and accessible from anywhere. Knowledge can be acquired by reading books or following online modules. And the acquisition of knowledge can be tested through various forms of standardized testing. Developing managerial and leadership skills, competences and attitudes of future leaders, however, require the involvement of the whole person and face-to-face interaction, what cannot work without a coaching and facilitation component. It is the role of business schools to develop the required learning environments to make sure students graduate with the required managerial and leadership skills to embrace the emerging global challenges. Such competences include:
– Systemic and strategic thinking
– Critical reflection and holistic decision-making
– Conflict resolution and crisis management
– Team-work, collaboration and leadership skills
– Moral and ethical courage
– A globally inclusive mindset
– Practical wisdom.
Emerging leaders will manifest themselves by being courageously explorative, daringly marginal, equipped with an inner guiding system of intuition, common sense and a deep knowing that we all belong to one larger unit. Such leaders will need to comprehend and successfully address increasingly complex, and emerging, systemic issues. Leadership is defined here as entrepreneurship, i.e. people with the ability, desire and will to make a difference. And this will need to be done not just in business, but in any organization that needs to organize resources and people to jointly create value that is relevant for the world.
The basic requirement for developing these leaders is a framework that addresses the whole person and that creates the needed openness and support for them. As such, education must provide the fertile grounds that allows for profound personal and professional development. Students and participants, irrespective of their age, will need a serious amount of personal courage to confront their fears, to let go of the views they hold on the world and on themselves and to drop the mask of a so-called educated perspective. Daring to let go of the roles we hold requires a safe space. Developing and exploring both an inner attitude that is connected to our inner self and an outer attitude that reflects a truly human view of compassion requires a learning environment in which making mistakes is considered progress rather than failure.