Developing Leadership Skills

Paul B. Malone


American schools of management have become the targets of criticism. One particular concern relates to inadequate priority directed to the subject of leadership Critics contend that graduates of schools of management, while generally excellent analysts, lack leadership skills. While this deficiency was considered tolerable in the past, today’s organizations desperately need inspirational leaders in order to compete in an environment characterized by chaotic change, a focus on quality, an emphasis on globalism and diversity and the increased encouragement of empowerment. Traditional values associated with management-a focus on the logical, rational and quantifiable-are being challenged. Other values associated with leadership-humanness, flexibility, sensitivity, vision-are receiving greater recognition. For a variety of reasons, those responsible for schools of management appear reluctant to recognize this profound change in the design of their curricula. Many contend that the development of leadership skills can occur only in the workplace. The unfortunate result of this philosophy is trial-an-error at work where the consequences of error can be disastrous. What is needed is a model of a course or courses designed to teach students how to lead that is appropriate for an academic program. This paper provides such a model that relies heavily on experiential learning techniques. It has been tested twice; so far, the feedback has been exceptionally positive.

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