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by Vault Education Editors | May 09, 2011



Congratulations on making it to business school. Now, let’s talk about your feelings, shall we? I know it’s embarrassing, but just look at it this way: You’ll probably be a better manager for it in the end, and the recruiters, they’re saying they want people with real social intelligence, a high emotional quotient—that is, a person with feeeelings.

And you know there’s a crisis of leadership in our country, don’t you? William Deresiewicz, in a wonderful essay on solitude and leadership, wrote about our country’s over-production of hoop-jumpers, those talented, highly skilled, highly specialized sheep who, for all their well-earned merits and abilities, don’t have a lick of creativity, vision, leadership in them because that’s not what our schools encourage anymore.

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise. What we don’t have are leaders.

What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.

Actually, it seems now more business schools are starting to offer courses on that touchy-feely, social intelligence stuff, where you will learn how to do things like relieve stress through meditation or cultivate self-awareness and interpersonal skills, because studies have shown that the soft skills of management are what employers desire, what managers have called most useful, and what recruiters are increasingly testing for. Tears and hugs are welcome, nay, encouraged.


["Solitude and Leadership"]


Filed Under: Education

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