People often say that “leaders are born, not made” — but this is not correct. Raw material is not enough.
We have plenty of smart individuals, plenty with technical knowledge and skills. Our business schools are increasingly global and competitive — with no lack of talent from which to choose. Yet why have business schools produced those who helped lead to the most recent financial crisis? A crisis that renowned presidential adviser David Gergen described as resulting from a “deficit of leadership”?
The pendulum seems to be swinging. More business schools are recognizing that their programs can play a key role in the creation of future leaders. The shift began a few years ago.
But the real need for schools to produce more individuals able to assume meaningful leadership roles has fostered a cascade of new initiatives.
Educator, author, and public servant John Gardner — who has been referred to as “a leader of leaders” — asked: Why did the USA produce six world-class leaders at its founding from a population of three million, when today’s United States with over 300 million citizens cannot offer half that number?
The world needs more leaders, given the challenges we face. Business schools need to produce not only those who achieve positions of authority — but even more importantly, those who are truly tomorrow’s leaders of consequence.