Top 4 Reasons Why MBAs are the Worst Leaders
Have you ever been surprised when people react to something you said or did? Have you ever said something funny (at least you thought so) only to have nobody laugh? Sure, we all have. Well, I sure was surprised by the many comments and tweets to my post Why MBAs are the Worst Leaders. It was way more than what I expected. I suspect this post will garner even greater attention and tweets.
The response was so diverse and opinionated that I began to ask myself, is there a common thread to make sense of all of this emotional energy? Not sure if it means anything but most of the reaction was from people agreeing that employee engagement and leadership skills were poor in MBAs. Many people took the time to write first-hand stories of their experiences.
In reviewing these comments, and researching more on Dr. Mintzberg, it’s easy to understand why he’s one of today’s most controversial yet respected thinkers. I also watched an interview of Dr. Mintzberg by Ricardo Semler, at MIT Sloan School of Management (http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/302/) . Jokingly, it was said in the interview the working title was Why MBAs are Useless.
In review and reflection of all of this material, I was able to derive four main points as to why MBAs may be the worst leaders to the people that shared their experiences.
1. It’s their personality: Everybody knows certain types of personalities are more attracted to different types of professions. We even recognize this in our children and we’ll say, “Oh, your daughter is so good with little children, she will make a good teacher someday.” We do this for all types of personalities, with both children and adults. Dr. Mintzberg even mentions that MBA programs are for analytical people that learn analytical disciplines (Marketing, Accounting, and Finance). Here is a fact; analytical people do not use emotions to drive their actions. They are not attuned to human needs and feelings as well as non-analytical thinkers. Unfortunately for them leadership development is relationship development and their internal mental wiring puts them at a disadvantage.
2. It’s the education system: I have to agree with Dr. Mintzberg here when he states that you can’t learn leadership in the classroom. Leadership resides within the relationship between the leader and the led therefore; you must be in collaborative workplace relationships to gain experience. Learning different theories of leadership does not make better leaders. Yet many institutions spend thousands of dollars marketing the message that you will be a better leader with our program. Try to tell yourself… its just marketing.
3. It’s the expectation: Many hiring managers make quick work for themselves if they hire an MBA. You know business; we need that…you’re hired. Its low risk and easy work. After all, MBAs are expected to perform at a high level, which includes leading people (the marketing materials said so). And when some of them can’t, the led will be more critical. “You suck as a leader and you’re an MBA?” Gosh.
4. It’s Wall Street: Dr. Mintzberg states in the interview, “Shareholder value is against human values.” Wall Street rewards short term stock appreciation and gives no respect to senior leaders trying to build long-term success. They also single out CEOs instead of recognizing “the team.” Does Wall Street reward humane corporations? Does Wall Street promote phony and detached styles of leadership?
Dr. Mintzberg challenges conventional wisdom and I like that. He also draws connections to the current state of leadership that has everybody losing trust in leaders of all types. Do you see that we are at a tipping point or do we have further to fall?
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