Engaging the mind of MBA graduates

A great deal of research is conducted on the mindset and attitude of business school alumni.

Almost all successful careers are built on experiences and connections. Whether it is field experience or network connections, they are what lead us to secure our jobs and have a career that is longer lasting than others.

Here at the London Business School, we have developed a new focus on empowering MBA students, alumni and corporate employees with programs aimed at giving them the skills and confidence they need to be leading thinkers within their organizations.

MBA: Motivational tools like This Follows and the strengths and abilities test do not necessarily address the specific types of tasks in a role or how employers look for the skills. We at the LBS, and many other business schools, have developed unique pieces of research to achieve these goals.

Overcoming Crisis in Supply

We used insights gained from surveys in this program to be a deeper part of our consulting and assessment work. The results from our alumni survey paint a picture of today’s business. Too many schools and consultants focus on the supply side of talent, focusing on executive skills and pre-mature post-MBA employment and neglecting the leadership capabilities of individuals at the other end of their executive ladder.

Without a vision of what a company should aim for, it is difficult to assess what skills and attributes you need to excel and lead your organization. We looked to our alumni survey and talked to them about their career paths. Key highlights from their survey:

– 78% of MBAs stated that their course was the largest factor influencing their next move.

– 76% of participants are currently employed; 43% have been in employment for 10 years or more.

– 43% of respondents have their own business.

That shows a remarkable progression in career after graduation from a “mid-level” entry-level role.

Impact of Influence

Employers are starting to recognize that influence and leadership are significant and critically important to success in today’s organization.

Early on in our consulting process, we introduced some new ways to assess influence by asking, “If you had a million dollars, how would you spend them?” As we surveyed every respondent, we discovered how impactful influence is for them. Interestingly, we did not ask business school graduates to come up with these examples, instead, we asked recent MBA graduates. We found that 83% of business school graduates answered, “to influence other people” as their top request for this million dollars, with 42% of respondents indicating that they spend the majority of their time working on leadership or leadership communication skills.

Many emerging leaders go down the self-serving route by focusing on the ego and claim that they are the problem. But the findings of our research reveal the direct impact a mere degree has on someone’s decision-making ability. This illustrates the strong influence they would have on those around them and the money they might hope to gain in terms of salary or economic gain. A business school degree is still the bread and butter for an Embracing E.S.G. (Intercultural Leadership Development) programs, including those associated with the Empirical Consulting Group.

Editing Rules of Engagement

Another area of influence that many business schools are less attuned to is the fact that people can channel their influence in ways that advance their personal interests. Is there a way to start a relationship that reflects the personal preferences and value that the person brings to the table? Is there a strategy to be applied to these circumstances that is rooted in how they want to be perceived?

Another issue is aligning with the objectives of the employer. Many MBA graduates are unsure about how best to talk about their work with their employers, particularly if they are under pressure to perform. This can often lead to miscommunication or compromised performance. We have been working with employers across their consulting teams and the rapid evolution in technology has made it possible to automate this process. We are now able to have much more sophisticated models of influencing from enterprise culture, to setting objectives, to the reward to be made to the individual under the circumstances. The success of our consultants has reached across industries and countries.

In summary, too many business schools and consultants treat to think of the organization as all-powerful and illusory. This tends to result in mediocrity, rather than extraordinary performance.

There has been a trend towards asking MBAs to solve problems, but the role of the business school and consultants needs to be to connect the dots, to think of how people want to see themselves, what the company is looking for and how to influence people in situations like supply and demand. It has taken us over 15 years to develop the tools to figure this out. We want to

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