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Published on: Dec. 14, 2020, 11:45 a.m.
Tomorrow’s leaders
  • Getting an MBA/PGDM degree alone is not the goal of business education anymore. Photo credit: Sanjay Borade

By Fr P. Christie, S.J.. The author is Director, XLRI, Xavier School of Management

Management education is an ever-evolving stream and amongst the most dynamic ones of higher education – being the study of the volatile corporate world. With many linear and non-linear changes in the corporate world in recent times, it is absolutely necessary for future business leaders and working executives to be abreast and be prepared for any challenges they come to face within their respective organisations in particular and their industry sector in general. It is also a positive sign that the millennial generation is looking beyond the confines of traditional corporate jobs and venturing into newer avenues that are driven by innovation and entrepreneurship.

Getting an MBA/PGDM degree alone is not the goal of business education anymore, rather, the current need for business education is to help develop the skills, capabilities, and techniques that lie at the heart of the practice of management (focus is more on doing than knowing); these include inclusive leadership skills, ability to think creatively and innovatively, problem-solving and decision-making skills, teamwork, ability to face and overcome crisis situations, ability to adapt to non-linear changes, to achieve work-life balance, understanding social and environmental issues and their impact on business etc. The hand level is equally if not more important than the head level development today.

Keeping abreast with the trends of various industry sectors, all forward-looking management schools need to re-invent their courses on a regular basis with a clear intent in helping shape responsible and ethical business leaders of tomorrow. Business schools must focus more on a curriculum that addresses not merely the needs of the industry today but also prepare for tomorrow and develop ethical management practices, support innovation and entrepreneurship whilst providing management education that is more integrative and provide students opportunities to learn and co-create new ideas at the same time. It is essential that a student should learn about the challenges of the socio-political-economic environment from the outset and over the course of their study at b-schools and should be given assignments to find sustainable solutions to real-time business problems.

Besides, giving students opportunities to innovate and become entrepreneurs, it is imperative for institutions to provide them the educational ecosystem to develop their whole-persona. Hence, coming out of traditional methods, an institute should emphasise on innovative or non-conventional methods in terms of curriculum and pedagogy delivery. Such initiatives will help build interest amongst students as well and will help them approach complex business topics with greater ease. Students need to be encouraged to apply theoretical learning, such as case studies, research methodologies, frameworks, etc, to solve real-life management problems.

Today’s highly competitive business environment has necessitated constant technical innovations, intense marketing efforts, etc, with an intent to capture more share of volume and profits across industry sectors; and, at every point, in every stage, the competition is getting more and more intense. In this volatile economic environment it has become essential to underscore the importance of ethical management practices and it is essential today that every management student should understand that one cannot achieve excellence, long-term success without integrity and ethics.

An alarming trend in today’s society is the increase in suicidal thinking, severe depression and rates of self-injury among young people. Some say it as the disease of modernity; now and then we hear people taking even extreme steps in life, unable to face failures, even small challenges. It has also become necessary for management institutes to teach their students coping mechanisms to overcome the stress and pressures of the competitive environment within the world of business. The fundamentals of management teach us – to become successful managers and how to manage people. However, to become successful leaders, one should first learn to ‘manage oneself’. If leaders are not able to manage themselves, they cannot manage others with empathy. Today’s management students need to learn to manage not only peer pressure, they also need to learn to manage their emotions, and most importantly, they need to learn to manage their lives with equanimity.

The corporate world and economic trends continue to change all the time. What is in practice today might become obsolete tomorrow. Hence, it is necessary for forward-thinking management institutions to continuously revamp and re-invent their curriculum as well as their organisations, to work towards an integral formation of the aspiring business leaders and also treat their very own employees well and help nurture their intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social persona to evolve as well rounded human beings furthering greater common good.


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