Obsession with leadership undermining organisations

Oct 23 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Controversial management Professor Henry Mintzberg has launched a broadside at his own colleagues in management education with a robust denunciation of the current obsession that business schools seem to have with teaching "leadership".

Writing in today's Financial Times, Prof Mintzberg says: "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 argues, "leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality" that is "undermining organisations".

Prof Mintzberg, a strategy professor at McGill University in Montreal, also lays into "managers who sit on 'top', pronouncing their great visions, grand strategies and abstract performance standards".

"Does anyone want to work for a manager who lacks the qualities of leadership?...Well, how about a leader that doesn't practise management?" he asks.

Prof Mintzberg has spent the past decade railing against the traditional teaching conducted on North American MBA programmes in books such as "Managers not MBAs".

He asserts that conventional MBA classrooms overemphasise the science of management while ignoring its art and denigrating its craft, leaving a distorted impression of its practice.

Financial Times | Business school scourge slams MBA 'leadership' trend