The Leadership Myth
There is a leadership myth, originating in Hollywood, that there is a well-defined set of competencies / attributes that leaders need to possess. It suits the executive education ecosystem to embrace this incorrect reductionist perspective.
On the plus side, it gives the student a sense of certainty that they will leave the programme knowing how to be a leader. In many, but not all cases this is akin to believing you can now ride a bike on all terrains because you have read a general book on how to ride a bike.
Leadership is contextual. Courtesy of increasing disruption, the contexts are increasingly novel. If the organisation is hit by a major cyber-attack, I would expect the person taking the lead to have a deep knowledge of human behaviour, technology and cybersecurity. If the organisation is looking to move into a new market, I would expect the lead person to know that market.
So you might wonder whether I am heralding the collapse of the MBA ecosystem and leadership development generally given the potentially infinite competencies that would need to be covered. Not at all. We just require a reset. We need to move towards focusing on traits such as the ability to operate effectively under pressure and how to capitalise on the cognition of the team, rather than being the sole decision maker. This requires a shift from centralised leadership to a more distributed, even ubiquitous leadership model.