Better than an MBA?

Harvard Business Review published an interesting article earlier this year: "Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can." It is a fascinating thought for those of us without MBAs!

HBR reports that about 40% of CEOs are MBAs, and studies show that leadership based solely on MBA-trained logic is not always enough for delivering long-term results, in fact it is often detrimental to an organization’s productivity. 

Researchers studied 440 CEOs who had been featured in the business press, on the covers of magazines such as BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Forbes. They split the CEOs into two groups — those with an MBA and those without one — and then monitored their performance for up to seven years. Surprisingly, the performance of those with an MBA was significantly worse. 

The Journal of Business Ethics looked at more than 5,000 CEOs and came to a similar conclusion.

One CEO interviewed for the article was forced to face the fact that he was a much worse leader than he thought, with evidence to support that conclusion from comprehensive staff surveys over several years showing declining morale and a worsening staff perception of his leadership. "I was leading from my head and not from my heart" he explained. A major recalibration was needed.

Bill George, a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School, and former CEO of Medtronic, says that self-awareness is the starting point of leadership. Self-awareness is the skill of being aware of our thoughts, emotions, and values from moment to moment. Through self-awareness, we can lead ourselves with authenticity and integrity — and in turn better lead others and our organizations.

Self-awareness starts with an external, non-biased assessment of strengths and "wiring" such as the LIFE Languages™ profile. This then builds with self-disclosure, and a developing understanding of others, into Bill George's sweet spot of consistent self-awareness.

You could go for an MBA, or you could invest a great deal less in simple tools for self awareness. The choice is yours!