I am tired of academics. As someone about to begin his masters degree, working with a leading business school, this came as something of a surprise to me, too.
Don’t get me wrong: I love education, and research into better ways of being or doing. That is one reason why I have the highest respect for people like (Professor) Wiseman from the U.K.The problem is the “low bar” of entry into organisations. I met another Industrial Psychology major recently – what a lovely person – about to enter the corporate world. What is sad is that she felt qualified.
I don’t mean that a Masters (including an MBA) is a disqualification, although in many cases it may well be. It’s just that organisations should be more thoughtful about their selection. Far too many graduates are “book smart,” but have not worked in a corporate environment before. They are bound to discover how little they know about the “in’s-and-out’s” of a working behemoth soon enough. But they will most likely also be immediately responsible for a prestigious portfolio, managing people or projects. And the daily grind of tasks is unglamorous routine, with words like “meeting” and “email” dominating the horizon. Many German companies require training to be no more than one day a week, whilst the undergraduate works in the organisation four days a week. Certain American corporations only allow people to work in HR, or as coaches or mentors, once they have line management experience. Is this not perhaps wiser?
I love the infusion of energy that youthful vigour brings. I love the diversity of opinion that someone with the latest thinking triggers. I really do, however, believe that leadership is not transferable. One cannot merely arrive and lead. One must first understand, listen, immersing oneself in the realities, without being contaminated by the nay-sayers. Then one may explore which of the theories apply, geographically, cross-culturally, logistically and industry-wide.Some do, and succeed. Others short-cut this process, at their own peril.
We may have a shortage of tertiary-level graduates. Let us not set them up for premature failure or career change.