MBA Colleges in India: What B Schools Should Focus on to Prepare Future Leaders

As the world reinvents itself to get back on track and move forward, we are all aware that the future is going to be more dynamic than we envisioned. Organizations, businesses, governments and people have all changed the way they think and operate in the past couple of years. Regardless of their scale and diversity, organizations are evolving to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy. With the widespread adoption of technology, workplaces have become borderless, multicultural and cross-functional. Therefore, we need leaders who recognize the need to retool and retrain to lead the organizations and workforce of tomorrow.

Our world demands emotionally, socially and culturally intelligent managers. This forces them to prioritize people, purpose, and profit and maintain a balance between the three, which is an extraordinary feat, given the complex scenario we live in now. We want leaders who can inspire trust and commitment among their colleagues and reciprocate by showing empathy and putting people before profits, even in times of adversity. There have been several examples around us over the past few months of exemplary leaders supporting their people even as they navigated their businesses through the crisis. At the same time, leaders must also be prepared to accept failure and approach it in the spirit of growth. Promoting a culture that allows failure will generate a sense of psychological safety in employees, which will motivate them to experiment and take risks for their organizational and professional growth. We need more leaders who can build such confident organizations.

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I foresee a central role for B schools in producing the next generation of highly intuitive, agile, emotionally, socially intellectual and responsible leaders. This requires a multidimensional approach to renew management education. Designing new programs, revamping their curriculum, refreshing their research practices, and imparting transferable skills will enable institutions to develop well-rounded leaders who can take on the leadership role. B schools need to focus on the below mentioned additions to their teaching and learning in order to prepare the kind of leaders we want to see in the future.

It is a time management education that incorporates elements of multidisciplinary education to ensure 360-degree student development. The National Education Policy 2020 has been a timely guideline for higher education institutions to clearly define their academic plans in this regard. Multidisciplinary education emphasizes the fundamentals of equipping individuals with life skills and knowledge that prepare them for an unknown future. It promotes intellectual curiosity, the critical thinking process, self-reflection, leadership and teamwork skills, acceptance and respect for diversity, commitment and increased sensitivity to one’s socio-cultural and ecological environment. . The pandemic has highlighted the importance of EQ, managing adversity and building resilience in one’s professional and personal life. These are highly valued skills and are of importance to leaders and those seeking leadership positions.

A distinctive necessity for every leader today is to be culturally intelligent. As organizations grow across the globe and collaborate with professionals and organizations from different countries, leaders need to be extremely nuanced while demonstrating cultural intelligence. They are expected to promote a culture that encourages and celebrates ethnic diversity, language, customs and traditions, religion, gender, lifestyle and eating habits within the organization. Only when leaders are able to truly support their teams in diversity of all kinds will they succeed in receiving the trust and buy-in of their staff. This will be the preeminent skill for leaders in years to come.

B schools should strive to instil this transferable skill in their students through a variety of interventions inside and outside the classroom. Offering cross-country exchange programs, cultural immersion tours, admitting international students into their courses, and hiring professors from around the world are ways they can provide much-needed experience and prepare management graduates for become more culturally intelligent and globalized in their outlook.

Digital transformation is at the heart of every organization in today’s world. Whether it’s a start-up, nonprofit, or large corporation, leaders and their staff need to be digitally savvy. Today, a leader must be aware of the latest IT trends and promote a mindset that embraces technology and innovation. When technology-enabled decision-making and operations ripple through all levels, organizations can become more productive. More importantly, since the leader must lead an organization made up of a generation of smart, tech-savvy employees, they must master this skill. Not acquiring these skills cannot be an option for today’s leaders.

Since computing has permeated all sectors and fields of activity, the curriculum of B schools must ensure that their students are technologically proficient. From product design and launches to manufacturing, delivery and customer engagement, management graduates should be familiar with the use of technology and its implications. Topics like Big Data, Design Thinking, AI, AR VR, Machine Learning, Technical Writing are the hot topics that B School graduates need to learn about. As disruptions continue to occur, the frequency of upgrading IT skills will become a priority for tomorrow’s leaders.

Climate change has become an existential challenge to human civilization in recent times, with profound environmental, geopolitical and public policy implications. The pandemic has revealed the truth about the devastating impact of unchecked growth over decades. Leaders need to be accountable for the impact of their companies and clearly define conservation as one of the main “goals” of their organizations. They can contribute more by investing in innovation, advancing sustainable strategies and leading by example by personally demonstrating environmentally responsible behavior. As influencers, they must be role models and agents of change.

Sustainability and climate change should become compulsory subjects and be integrated into all aspects of business studies as part of the learning outcomes of all courses and programmes. It is equally important to encourage management graduates to use real environmental predictions and find solutions to problems. Working with the wider society and solving their problems will provide them with an advanced learning experience that will serve them well when they take on leadership positions in the future.

The traditional way of leading has changed considerably and those who are unable to adapt and react to changing times run the risk of disappearing. B schools have an absolutely crucial role in shaping future prospects by preparing the next generation of new age leaders.

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