Mintzberg Slams B-Schools For Teaching Leadership

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All I can say is Wow! Henry Mintzberg is not going to make any friends in the current "leadership is everything" business climate.

Professor Henry Mintzberg, scourge of the business school world, has launched his latest attack on his own profession of management scholars by denouncing the teaching of leadership, the latest business school trend.

In Monday's Financial Times, Prof Mintzberg writes: "We have this obsession with 'leadership'. It's intention may be to empower people, but its effect is often to disempower them." By focusing on the single person, he writes, "leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality" that is "undermining organisations".

I wouldn't go so far as to say leadership should not be taught, but I agree that it is overemphasized. For some reason, people see it as a magic solution to all their organizational problems.

One small business owner I know is so obsessed with leadership, he is always reading books and telling people at business meetings about all the recent studies on leadership. Yet, almost everyone that spends five minutes with him says his problem is that he doesn't understand who the real customer is for his product. Maybe he is leading his company, but it's not to any place worth going.

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