Graduate and undergraduate degrees focus specifically on specialized education to ensure students have an in-depth understanding of their subject.
MBA courses are different. Their focus may be on the specifics of running a business and factual information such as marketing and finance but there is also an excess of components related to ethics, social skills and communication. What this means is, while traditional degrees might have specific knowledge in one field, MBAs become multifaceted into many different sectors
Five ways to future-proof MBA graduates
What are the implications of this for business schools? How can we develop MBA graduates so that they contribute to and harness emerging realities in ways that will take their companies to the next level? Regenesys Business School believes that the following five perspectives will futureproof MBA graduates, inculcating the mindset foundations to inform their attitudes and behaviours:
1. No-box thinking
“Thinking outside the box” still involves generating thoughts that remain confined to a box. This type of thinking might not lend itself to thinking truly radical and fresh ideas. Some of the most innovative ideas – such as the iPhone – applied “no box thinking”, which involves connecting or finding patterns in seemingly disconnected ideas, nurturing curiosity, and allowing the imagination to run wild. Supposedly impossible ideas become a reality because this perspective sees no barriers – only possibilities.
2. Glocal cognisance
Leaders need to be aware of global trends, best and next practice, as well as challenges. However, blanket application of global practices might not be appropriate for a local context, and specifically, a local company. Instead, leaders need to have global awareness and ensure local relevance by cultivating a “think global and act local” mindset. Leaders, therefore, need to extract relevant lessons from global experiences and translate them to ensure appropriate applicability within a local context. Glocally cognisant leaders are also culturally intelligent and able to interact with multiple cultures.
3. Emotional and spiritual intelligence
In a world of virtual collaboration, cognitive load management and transdisciplinary, mental intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for managerial and leadership success. Our Vuca environment requires the application of emotional and spiritual intelligence to establish co-operative and performance-driven workplace relationships based on trust, respect and effective communication. Leaders who access their spiritual intelligence are directed by a higher purpose, positive values, authenticity, and self-awareness. They are comfortable with ambiguity because they see the bigger picture, learn from and rise above adversity, and proactively solve complex, unfamiliar problems without placing blame. In addition, because emotional and spiritual intelligence increase employee engagement, staff retention and organisational performance (and this claim is backed up by a number of studies), they use these intelligences to build their organisations as well as a wider network of alliances.
4. Strength multipliers
Failing businesses are often characterised by engaging multiple people but not multiple strengths. Managers don’t always know how to effectively extract the best from employees. Instead, they follow the traditional method of focusing on weaknesses and delegate tasks that aren’t necessarily compatible with the delegate’s strengths. Based on the principle of focusing on the critical few, not on the insignificant many, effective managers and leaders must recognise that every employee offers unique contributions. Harnessing their strengths creates a multiplier effect which will translate into greatly improved organisational performance and employee engagement.
5. Maker instinct
More wicked challenges have begun to crop up in our Vuca world, many without precedent. Tried-and-tested solutions work with familiar problems but are often not applicable to new problems. A maker instinct is required to generate solutions to these unique and unfamiliar problems. Bob Johansen, a distinguished fellow at Silicon Valley’s Institute for the Future, regards this a “basic skill to make and remake organisations”. Makers, among other things, flip dilemmas to solve them, and refuse to be forced into premature choices.
Comfortable with being uncomfortable
Our world needs leaders who are, as Johansen describes, “comfortable with being uncomfortable, but not passive”. They need to embrace uncertainty, and at the same time to seed and nurture their assets for the common good while pursuing profit. These are no doubt the kind of leaders the global company was hoping its MBA intake would turn into but did not find among its recruits. And so these are the attitudes and attributes business schools must inculcate in the coming generation of graduates.