The hallowed halls of The University of Cambridge, one of my Alma Maters and one of the oldest universities in the world, is believed to have been formed in 1209 by scholars who had left Oxford after a dispute with local townspeople, developed into one of the most respected universities in the world. Through the decades it has produced more than 80 Nobel prize winners and nurtured some of history’s greatest thinkers: John Milton, Isaac Newton, Hans Blix, Ludvig Wittgenstein, CS Lewis, Francis Crick and James Watson (the structure of DNA), Sylvia Plath, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking – to mention just a few. As I attended Cambridge’s 800th anniversary last year, I was again honored by the intellect that surrounds me. But, at the same time, I recognize very clearly that there is a remarkable gap between what we learn in business school and what we need to be successful in the ever-evolving world of global business. I am the beneficiary of some of the finest Professsors in the world, yet there are topics not necessarily taught in business school, that are indeed critical to survival in global business – some of my favorite challenges to discuss.
The Unspoken subject-matter emerges as you dive headlong into the unpredictable environment of global business and suddenly realize that there are challenges and roadblocks that you were not advised of and that you had not previously contemplated. Topics such as politics, networking, challenging the status quo, the importance of rapid results, mentoring/coaching, execution, big picture/small picture balance , etc… These challenges and roadblocks often derail careers and cause people to question their commitment to global business. If we are to successfully evolve leadership on a global basis, it is vitally important that we understand these challenges and ensure they are addressed.
Because these topics are so deeply rooted in the day to day operations of global business, they are not well suited, in most instances, to academic institutions. In addition, we know that corporate training is often ineffective and retention rates are low. If we are to tool our executives with the skills to accelerate their organizations, we will need to better leverage non-traditional learning. We will need to look to effective, ongoing methods, often based in experience rather than theory, in order to facilitate organizational success on every level.
Gary Hamel‘s commentary on Leadership and how it has not fundamentally changed in over 100 years is accurate. We may move things around, make them look a little different, or phrase them in a different way – but there has been little actual innovation in leadership theory and practice in a very long time. It occurs to me how absolutely critical it is for academia and business to come together for the greater good – the future of global business and interculturism depend on it. If we are to evolve, we will need to look to Translational Science – essentially taking what is developed in the “lab” and deploying it effectively in real-world scenarios, and vice versa – taking what we know and understand to be real in global business and partnering with academia to make it more effective.
Please join me next week for a continuation of this discussion, detailing some potential ways to effectively deploy translational science into both academic and business environments. You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next Thursday for the next installation of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.