Bottom-up lessons from European CEO magazine

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European CEO magazine is currently running a story called: What’s missing from this picture? Oliver Mack, head of learning at Common Purpose writes:

“MBAs…left managers in a bubble…eventually we all need to step outside of our team or department where our position makes us the boss”.

The reason is that the problems we need to solve typically take place outside of our formal sphere of influence.  Mack continues to argue for education based on challenging leaders in “real life situations that shake them up” rather than relying on tutorials, leadership models, and Powerpoints from MBA professors.

Despite the obvious need to somehow involve professors, one could wonder what puts MBA programmes at such a disadvantage in terms of providing case study experience.   Also, Mack’s alternative to an MBA is a two day workshop, hardly a substitute, I would say.   However, Mack is essentially spot on: leadership from below is a significant source of power in the network society and knowledge handled top down won’t cut it.

So how can we all learn more self awareness?  Based on recent experience, I suggest keeping a job, having kids, remaining happily married, and living to tell the tale.   None of those situations really involve top down authority of any sort.  Only that there are very few hours to sleep should you choose to pursue that multi-tasking approach.  I would gladly take an MBA instead, if I thought it would help.  Mack’s two day workshop seems to be an easy way out, even if he will shake me up.

Effective Leadership Beyond the Hierarchy

Effective leadership has little or nothing to do with hierarchy and formal position. Rather, soon it will be entirely project based. Those who excel at being aware, sharing, and pooling knowledge, win. Once this is a reality, the workplace will be changed forever. I don’t mean that once you work project-based for a while you are part of this trend. In fact, a project here and there is not what this is about. I envision that hierarchy as we know it will disappear altogether. It won’t be needed and will have no function. Instead, a new hierarchy will appear: one purely based on knowledge and networks. This is a much more unstable situation. In effect, a given situation can determine who is in charge and e a hot topic can make an expert surface immediately. Whoever knows, and puts his or her knowledge to use, is in power. Given that some of this is happening already, why is it that hierarchy even still exists?

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