We live in an era of communication challenges. It is an age of increasingly scarce management and education to the markets of tomorrow. To solve this problem, to improve and restore the competitive edge of business, I recommend teaching leadership as well as organization. We need to move beyond the simplistic and boring, everyday organizational skills commonly taught in core courses in business schools. Important as these skills are, we need to redirect our foci towards the essential ingredient required to put these skills to work – leadership. As Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus have expressed it, “The problem with many organizations…is that they tend to be over managed and under led. There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important.” “To manage” means “to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge or responsibility for, to conduct.” “Leading” is “influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.” Other characteristics include: motivating and inspiring individuals, providing direction and vision, earning the respect of others, turning talent and efforts into results, and being an excellent communicator and listener. The distinction is crucial. “Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people that do the right thing”. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment – effectiveness versus activities of management routines – efficiency.” Do students need leadership education? There is a considerable body of evidence that suggests that they do. First it is clear that something is not working. Businesses fail frequently. For example, a recent study funded by the Small Business Administration indicates that 37.3 percent of businesses survive the first six years after start-up. In this fiercely competitive age, we cannot afford a Thirty-seven percent success rate. We know action is called for, but is leadership education a top priority? Research on reasons for business failure hints at inept leadership, but usually cites poor management as a prime reason for failure. Research on what it takes to be a successful business owner also suffers from a lack a clear distinction between management and leadership. Fortunately, there is one big difference. Everyone seems eager to talk to the successful and try to learn the secrets of their success; similarly, the successful enjoy talking about how they became successful. As a result, the popular press is full of success stories. What do the highly successful stories tell us? Their message is that effective communication is critical to success. Bennis and Naus argue that business schools are focusing on the wrong thing. They feel that, schools and businesses should be teaching the principles of effective leadership rather than simply management skills. Teachers should be helping their students begin the lifelong process of internalizing these principles. “The major problem is that what management education does do moderately well is to train good journeymen / women managers; that is, the graduates acquire technical skills for solving problems. They are highly skilled problem solvers and staff experts. Problem solving, while not a trivial exercise, is far removed from the creative and deeply human processes required of leadership. What’s needed is not management education but leadership Education”. The education system can train people to be leaders in addition to training them to be managers. All most of us need to do to improve our programs is to adopt a new perspective – a new vision. Leadership, in my view; is the key word. It is at the core of what has been referred to as the “competitive edge”. I have argued that, perhaps, the single most important thing in entrepreneurial ventures is a focus on leadership to gain the “competitive edge” in addition to simple diplomatic management. Once you focus on the need of leadership, you will be surprised at the wide range of opportunities and successes that can be explored and achieved to business owners who posses these qualities and apply them to the basic concepts of management.
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