A New York Times article "Can You Learn to Lead?" traces how business schools are putting more emphasis today on teaching leadership over management. In fact, quoted in the article is John Van Maanen, a professor of management at M.I.T. Sloan, who says "[the topic of leadership] has become so popular that we apparently can’t teach enough of it.”
"Business schools’ foray into the teaching of leadership can be traced to mid-1977," writes Duff McDonald, author of the New York Times article; "when Abraham Zaleznik, a Harvard professor, published a paper entitled 'Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?' The answer was an emphatic yes. Leaders were visionaries who got the troops excited to march into battle. Managers were platoon sergeants who actually marched them into battle."
Today, according to McDonald, business schools have three (debated) theories on how to teach leadership: through (1) a "scientific approach [that] leans heavily on sociology and psychology"; (2) role-playing and teaming to demonstrate leadership practice; and (3) a "deep dive into one’s own values and ideals," with the assumption that to be a good leader one must “exhibit high standards of integrity, take responsibility for their actions, and [be] guided by enduring principles rather than short-term experience.” Of course, some schools "incorporate all three approaches, addressing the tangible skills of leadership—the ability to work in teams, influence others, manage conflict and communicate," said McDonald.
This change in emphasis is in line with the "new guiding mantra" in the 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework that stressed the "leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice" over just "management practice."
Writes Harry Hertz, "Baldrige starts with the key roles of leadership: setting vision and values, exhibiting high ethical conduct, communicating, and guiding performance to achieve the mission. And [the Baldrige Excellence Framework] is an a-to-z guide that ends with measuring all key dimensions of organizational performance: product, process, customer, workforce, leadership and governance, and financial and market. It is also an organizational maturity model that unites the leadership with performance in an integration dimension that links results to the responsibilities of leaders and their role in creating change."
And of course, the Baldrige Excellence Framework dives deeper into the core value of visionary leadership and the importance of a leadership system.
Do you agree with this focus on leadership over management in business schools?