New leaders for the business world 1

What kind of leaders does the new business world need to train and develop?

The past year 2020 will remain in recent history as the one of the most destructive pandemic in the last hundred years due to Covid-19.

But it is also true that global society has had to work hard to balance the health of the countries of the world with the continuity of productive and economic activity in general.

In the field that concerns us, which is postgraduate education, we have been subjected to a real litmus test. So it is time that we ask ourselves some questions from our responsibility in quaternary formation.

The Business Schools have been working hard to train new business leaders and this role must continue throughout the decade.

The first of them is of paramount importance regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic. This is: What kind of leaders does the business world need to train and develop?

And this question does not arise only in the scope of the AEEN, but is a cry that has been expressed in recent years, but this concern is very accentuated in the academic exercises from 2018-2019.

Among the personalities who have been concerned about this question is Mary C. Gentile, to whom today we are going to reply.

Mary C. Gentile, Ph.D., is Creator / Director of Giving Voice to Values, Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Senior Advisor to the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, and Management Education Consultant and leadership development. Among many other awards, Mary was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” of 2015 by Ethisphere, one of the “Top Thought Leaders in Trust: 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners” by Trust Across America- Trust Around the World. January 2015 and this year alone she was named one of the “2017 Best Minds” in Ethical Leadership by ComplianceWeek.

She argues that in a “time of the preeminence of private equity and increasing global competitiveness, should leaders take risks and be rewarded for focusing on the bottom line?”. And she adds: “Or, in the wake of scandals involving individual excesses amid seemingly blind ‘short-termism’, should the next generation of leaders focus on team spirit and internal organizational development to increase shareholder profitability?”

Una de las principales preocupaciones de la formación de postgrado es la de acentuar el trabajo en equipo, el espíritu ético y comunitario así como un conocimiento profundo sobre las diferentes políticas de sostenibilidad

We share the answer that she gives to these questions, as follows:

a) Since they are of concern to any thoughtful business leader.

For our part, we add that we are living an exceptional period as a consequence of Covid-19, which in the very short term in which all institutions, governments and organizations of all kinds have had to move and operate without enough time for reflection.

But we share with her the fact that in the field of postgraduate training this reflection has been taking place but we add from our own experience that in some sectors a deaf ear was being turned away despite our efforts to update and modernize the postgraduate educational system.

b) She says fundamental questions are also being raised for business educators. Business schools are now at a crossroads.

A circumstance that we also share, because it will be necessary to see at the final exit of this tunnel if the great impact of Covid-19 that has disrupted all business models to adapt to the famous new reality, will serve to definitively boost a sector of society such as postgraduate education to the preferred place that it should have and be a reference in the political class, or on the contrary it will be immersed in a limbo of indefiniteness to which the lack of high political programs at the EU level and in each one of the member countries, does not come in a coordinated response with plans and programs to relaunch the great change that is required in training for jobs that will require different and highly specialized training in 2022, 2023 and at least until 2030.

Criticism of how leaders are being formed

1º) The critical aspect in itself referring to training.

She says critics from outside and, more vociferously, within academia, point to the way these schools build leaders.

And she then she adds:

2º)) There are flaws in both philosophy and methods.

And this happens because both in philosophy and in methods: business schools, they say, are excessively focused on a narrow conception of the company driven exclusively by the short-term maximization of shareholder profits.

From our position as AEEN that we are interested in ensuring business benefits, something that is obvious, but as she says, not at any cost, so we understand her position as ours has to be in line with the sustainability analysis in the medium and long term.

Research, they complain, is driven more by peer review requirements than by the needs of administrators.

Because, as she says and we share it 100%, instead of addressing the complexity of today’s world, everything is restricted to a single value or point of view.

And this from the AEEN we see it not as a methodological error, but even more serious: strategic.

Because based on our shared point of view, researchers avoid studying the real-world mess of multiple targets for the pristine fiction of strategies that optimize a single value or point of view.

We are going to replicate another pearl that she introduces in which she asks herself, What is the result then? and she responds by saying that “we find a generation of MBA’s who do not have the training required to manage large corporations in the complex and multicultural environment that we face in the globalization of today’s markets.”

And while this thinking is critical and we support it as well, it is complemented by the following which says that “the result, critics say, is a generation of MBAs who lack a sense of how to manage corporations in the complex and multicultural environment of the global companies today, and who do not recognize the way in which companies fit into the broader fabric of society”.

At this point the social environment enters beyond the market. Ethical and corporate social responsibility issues.

Of course, in 2020 and so far in 2021, the basic concern of governments and also of all business, trade union and, of course, educational institutions, is that the productive fabric of the country should not continue to be destroyed, which could lead to a very hard blow to the ability to continue maintaining minimum levels of postgraduate training, not in terms of quality, because we respond for it in the quality given to the different programs of our associates, but in terms of reducing the market to a percentage that can make postgraduate training go through a transition of two or three years in which it does not have any weight in society.

For this reason, from the AEEN we are always striving for members to continue in the trend of updating programs, in addition to the fact that the vast majority of our partners already operated in an online market for postgraduate courses.

But this question is not exclusive to whether being up-to-date in online training gives you a certificate of quality in what you do.

At least this happens in an open market that is the Internet and you can see all kinds of courses, which does not mean that they maintain these quality parameters for which we demand from associate members.

So, the question, to accept that once this level of quality is proven (in our case it is demonstrated this way), is to see that other adjustments and transformations are required.

And this is the message that we want to give in the reply we are making today about what kind of leaders we want to train and what kind of leadership society needs in these moments of serious health and economic crisis from which we have not yet emerged.

Antonio Alonso, President of the AEEN (Spanish Business School Association) and Secretary General of EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education)