During my early days working at the Instituto de Empresa Business School (“IE”) in Madrid, Spain, I had the great pleasure to learn from and become friends with Angel Cabrera, the former IE dean and now the current president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Angel (I sound like Sarah Palin, “do you mind if I call you Angel?”) recently created his Global Leaders Can Be Made blog.
Since the Enron scandal, Angel has been a key figure in rethinking business education to focus on breeding professionally responsible leaders. With that in mind, I wrote him an email the other day about the financial crisis and the implications for leadership training, saying,
In a sense, the financial crisis is an extension of Enron. Now more than ever in globalized markets where average citizens, businesses, and financial institutions are all dependent on one another (think about the credit interdependence that has caused the crash), we need better leaders. Leaders need to step up to the plate. The whole paradigm of corporations defined exclusively by their profits alone can no longer be seen as valuable to society. Transparency, sustainability, even paying taxes (the new patriotism) are now vital both to capitalism (finally) and society’s survival.
Angel kindly gave Grave Error a well needed plug by directly responding to my email in a post about whether business schools are responsible for the current financial mess, writing
Eric, as you would guess, I couldn’t agree with you more. We need better leaders. Leaders who understand and accept the professional responsibilities of managing a public corporation, to create true lasting value to society at large while providing competitive returns to investors that are commensurate with the risks they assume.
Some journalists are asking whether business schools may have some responsibility in the current financial mess for the way we have trained business leaders in the last two decades. My answer: absolutely!
It is refreshing to see someone out there asking to being held accountable for the mess and responsible for the clean up, as opposed to the easy blame Wall Street, blame Washington game.
Back in December 2001 just prior to getting a job at IE, I was completing IE’s International MBA program. I already had a JD and had worked as an attorney, but I thought that a master’s degree in business administration would give me that added insight into managers’ business concerns needed to become a more effective advocate. Throughout the MBA program, though, two things surprised me, making me believe that my JD was by far a more valuable degree, at least from an intellectual perspective:
- An ignorance on the part of the students and an absence in the course work about what a corporation really is, and
- A failure to instill a “managerial” identity and spirit in the MBA candidates. Continue reading