Good leaders usually know how to ask the right question at the right time and in the right way. Asking the right question at the right time is generally a function of the leader’s subject-matter expertise and ability to apply that knowledge to the situation. On the other hand, asking the question in the right way has more to do with interpersonal skills. Typically, the MBA curriculum emphasizes the development of subject-matter expertise to the exclusion of interpersonal skill development. This means MBAs may graduate with an understanding of what questions they need to ask but not know how to ask them in a way that is impactful and that helps differentiate their performance from that of their peers. With this dilemma in mind, I want to share with the MyeEMBA readers some of my thinking about what it takes to ask a value-added question.
Ask any group of MBA students and they will tell you that they have too much to read. From their perspective, this may be true. However, from a faculty member’s perspective, there is always room on the syllabus for one more article or book chapter. Having too much to read may be a matter of perspective during the MBA program; however, after graduation, MBA students no longer have a faculty member selecting books and articles for them to read. Therefore, the burden of dealing with the crisis of too much to read becomes an issue for the individual MBA to address. Read the article to learn one approach to dealing with the crisis.
The purposeful action of enrolling in an MBA program can lead to unintended consequences or outcomes. Unintended or not, these outcomes can be a mixed bag – some positive, some negative, and some can even be perverse. Awareness on the part of MBA students can help mitigate the negative or perverse or leverage the positive. My purpose with this article is to increase MBA student awareness so they can better prepare for any unintended consequences of their enrollment in an MBA program.
The roles we play and our dedication to each should reflect what matters to us as individuals. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. More often than not, we find we are playing roles we did not select for ourselves or over time our roles and what matters to us changes. Perhaps of greater significance is that many of us incrementally add roles without taking into consideration the competing demands of our existing commitments. It is so easy to say yes to innocuous request such as serving on the church’s budget committee or mentoring a new hire. No matter the cause, the result is the same, a life where we subjugate roles that matter to those that matter less. MBA students often find themselves in this situation while concurrently pursuing their MBA degree, managing their career, and being supportive of their family. Proactively managing the roles one plays can help avoid this situation. Doing so starts by knowing what roles you are currently playing in your life.
Khan Academy, a provider of free, online-education services, is very valuable for MBA students wanting to enhance their perquisite or business-foundation skills, MBA students and alumni who want to supplement or refresh their MBA knowledge base, or MBA faculty wanting to supplement existing courses. A sampling of course categories offered to Khan Academy subscribers (students) include Algebra, Calculus, Probability and Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Finance and Capital Markets, and Entrepreneurship. All lessons are self-paced and generally take ten minutes or less to complete. In the following sections, I explain why I think Khan Academy is a great resource for MBA students, alumni and faculty members.
Managers manage, leaders lead and problem solvers problem solve. In an organizational context, much of the work managers, leaders and problem solvers do relates to reacting to or preventing a failure of some kind. Couple this situation with the daily bombarding of bad news from multiple sources – newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet; and before long, we find ourselves focusing only on failures – the organizations’, co-workers’, family members’ and our own. Moreover, I believe that such focuses make us quick to criticize others, as well as ourselves. Self-criticism that focuses only on failures leads to an imbalance in the perception we have of ourselves, one that is more negative than positive. MBA students are not exempt from this imbalance and one way of balancing this perception is for them to develop a greater appreciation for their accomplishments.
Read the rest of the article to learn how to re-balance one’s perspective.