As the world reinvents itself to get back on track and move forward, we are all aware that the future will be more dynamic than we imagined. Organizations, businesses, governments and people have all changed the way they think and function over the past two years. Despite their scale and diversity, organizations are changing to respond to the demands of a rapidly evolving economy. With the large-scale adoption of technology, the workplace is borderless, multi-cultural and cross-functional. As a result, we need leaders who recognize the need to equip and retrain themselves to lead the organizations and workforce of tomorrow.
Our world demands managers who are emotionally, socially and culturally intelligent. This requires them to prioritize between People, Purpose, and Profits and also maintain a balance between the three, which is a remarkable feat, given the complex scenario we live in today. We want leaders who can inspire trust and commitment among their coworkers and reciprocate by practicing empathy and putting people above gain even in times of adversity. There have been several examples all around us in recent months of exemplary leaders who supported their people even as they navigated their companies through crises. In parallel, leaders must also be willing to accept failure and view it with a growing mindset. Promoting a culture that allows failure will generate a feeling of psychological security among employees, which will motivate them to experiment and take risks for their organizational and professional growth. We need more leaders who can build such a confident organization.
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I foresee School B’s central role in producing the next generation of highly intuitive, agile, emotional, socially intellectual, and responsible leaders. This calls for a multi-dimensional approach to renewing education management. Designing new programs, refining their curricula, refreshing their research practice, and instilling transferable skills will enable institutions to prepare well-rounded leaders who can take on the mantle of leadership. School B should focus on the additions mentioned below to their teaching and learning in an effort to prepare the kind of leaders we want to see in the future.
It is time management teaching that integrates elements of multi-disciplinary education to ensure 360-degree development of students. The National Education Policy 2020 has been a timely direction for higher education institutions to clearly outline their academic plans in this regard. Multi-disciplinary education emphasizes the fundamentals of equipping individuals with the life skills and knowledge that prepares them for the unknown future. It fosters intellectual curiosity, critical thinking processes, self-reflection, leadership and teamwork skills, acceptance and respect for diversity, commitment, and an increased sensitivity to one’s socio-cultural and ecological environment. The pandemic has raised the importance of EQ, managing adversity, and building resilience in one’s professional and personal life. This is a skill that is highly valued and considered essential for leaders and those seeking to step into leadership positions.
The special need for every leader today is to be culturally savvy. As organizations expand around the world and collaborate with professionals and organizations from different countries, leaders need to be very nuanced when it comes to demonstrating cultural acumen. It is hoped that they promote a culture that encourages and celebrates the diversity of ethnicities, languages, customs, and traditions, religions, genders, lifestyles and eating habits within the organization. Only when leaders are able to truly support their teams across diversity of every kind will they succeed in earning the trust and followers of their workforce. This will be a pre-eminent skill for leaders in the years to come.
B Schools should focus on inculcating these transferable skills among their scholars through various interventions inside and outside the classroom. Offering cross-country exchange programmes, cultural immersion tours, admitting international students into their courses, and hiring global faculty are some of the ways in which they can provide much-needed experience and prepare management graduates to become more culturally savvy and global in their outlook.
Digital transformation is at the core of every organization in today’s world. Whether it’s startups, nonprofits, or large corporations, leaders and their workforce must be digitally savvy. A leader today must be conversant with the latest IT trends and promote a mindset that embraces technology and innovation. As technology-enabled decision-making and operations go down every level, organizations can become more productive. More importantly, because the leader must lead an organization with a generation of smart, tech-savvy employees, he or she needs command over these skills. Not equipping themselves with these skills cannot be an option for today’s leaders.
As IT has entered every sector and area of business, the B School curriculum must ensure their students are technology literate. From product design and launch to manufacturing, delivery, and customer engagement, management graduates must be knowledgeable about the use of technology and its implications. Subjects like Big Data, Design Thinking, AI, AR VR, Machine learning, technical writing are hot topics nowadays that B School graduates must understand. As disruption continues, the frequency of upgrading IT skills will be a priority for future leaders.
Climate change has emerged as an existential challenge to human civilization in recent times with profound environmental, geopolitical, and public policy implications. The pandemic has brought home the truth about the devastating effects of decades of unchecked growth. Leaders must take responsibility for the impact of their business and clearly outline conservation as one of their organization’s main ‘Goals’. They can further contribute by investing in innovation, advancing sustainable strategies, and setting an example by personally demonstrating eco-friendly behavior. As influencers, they must be role models and changemakers.
Sustainability and climate change should be made compulsory subjects and integrated into every aspect of business studies as part of the learning outcomes for all courses and programmes. It is equally important to encourage management graduates to use real-world environmental predictions and come up with solutions to those problems. Working with the wider community and solving their problems will provide them with an advanced learning experience that will be helpful when they move into responsible positions in the future.
Traditional ways of leadership have changed significantly and those who are unable to adapt and respond to changing times run the risk of fading away. B Schools have a very important role in shaping the outlook for the future by preparing the next generation of new age leaders.