In order to succeed professionally, MBA graduates need creativity, innovation, empathy, and the ability to deal with failure, says a new Huffington Post article. These are all skills that Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) believes in, and strives to foster in students. Author and careers expert Stacie Nevadomski Berdan drew her findings from interviews with top business leaders, civil servants, and academics.
Creativity and innovation, notes Berdan, are essential to maintaining a business’s competitive edge, but also to figuring out how to run an organization in an environmentally and socially responsible way. One of her interviewees, George Washington University Associate Dean for MBA Programs Liesl Riddle, asserts, “MBA students need to learn to think outside the box and seek inspiration from unexpected and non-traditional sources.”
A more surprising skill on the list is empathy. Although the actual word isn’t used, it’s implicit in Berdan’s phrasing: “Ability to Interpret a New Social World.” The international character of today’s economy, as well as the growing number of private-public partnerships, means that managers must be able to understand other spheres beyond their own. Riddle says that to develop this “sociological imagination,” MBA students “must stretch themselves and get out of their cultural comfort zone”—advice that echoes a core message of the work of LCI Philosopher-in-Residence Maxine Greene.
Resilience, which enables a professional to work through, and bounce back from, difficulties, is another important asset, according to Berdan. And teaching business students to learn from failure is an effective way to make them more resilient. This is the same kind of thinking that informs “Fail Well,” one of the imagination practices in my book, Imagination First.
The current job market is, as we all know, tough, even for MBAs. It’s encouraging to see that the skills LCI imparts to young people are the ones that experts recognize as necessary for 21st-century career success. Why only start teaching these skills in graduate programs? Why not begin with K-12?
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