I recently came across an article that describes the reaction to what I can only describe as a process error committed by McKinsey when communicating with unsuccessful MBA applicants. In brief, McKinsey sent an automated email to rejected MBA applicants. Nothing unusual there, but the email still showed the field name %Preferred when it should have had the name of the rejected applicant.
What struck me as more interesting than what I think is a simple process error, is the reaction from one of the rejected applicants. The article has a quote from an second-year MBA student from ” a top two business school” who said that “I am so shocked that recruiters can come to campus and get away with stuff like this” and “if they do this here, just imagine what it would be like at other schools?”
Now, I am the first to recognise that this is just one quote, from an MBA who chose to remain anonymous. One can’t generalise and say that these quotes reflect a large swathe of opinion from MBAs. But it does, once again, raise the issue of MBA hubris and the sense of entitlement that I deserve different treatment because of the school/company/MBA that I went to.
It is in this context that, on the first day of the school year, our Director of the MBA talked about the death of the idea of the Superhero leader. This idea that a leader, who almost possess a different DNA from the followers, could swoop in and make meaningful changes before flying away. It is a model that does not work anymore and what is needed now is more empathy to go with the analytical skills that are so honed through a traditional MBA curriculum.
But at least one company has turned this MBA hubris on its head. Again, our Director showed this video on the first day of the school year. Hopefully, our MBA 2013s took that message of humility to heart amidst the excitement of the first day of term. It also reminded me of what a Cambridge alum told me, about how even though he was a former Citi management associate who worked in the CEO’s office, he was not above turning up at a warehouse in the early morning to help colleagues of the fast-growing startup which he was CFO of, to pack merchandise for shipping when orders started to pile up. That’s the type of leader we want.