It depends. Most leaders are bred in the crucible of life—not in a business school. If you are pursuing your MBA right now, ask yourself this:
Are you just another MBA in the job market, or are you a leader? A game changer?
Every morning I walk into an office full of MBAs from top schools across the world, but only a handful of them are true leaders. The ones that stand out have something special going for them. They are not your run-of-the-mill managers (with an MBA and a team of direct reports), but are true leaders, enabling their team members to achieve great things together. Such is their aura, you will immediately know when you see them.
Here’s how to spot one.
Leaders execute. Others just talk about strategy
A brilliant strategy on paper is worth nothing, until somebody actually tries it out to see if it works. Leaders believe in execution, not big buzzwords. They understand the fact that what looks good on PowerPoint isn’t the same thing that makes the company money. To be sure, they are well versed in strategy and the big picture—they just choose to do something about it.
Leaders fail a lot. Until they win.
The typical MBA school will not teach you to handle failure. Instead, all the marketing, finance, strategy lectures will tell you how to do everything right all the time. To grow as leader you have to be prepared to fail a lot, until you figure out how to win and what you’d need to win it.
Leaders are baptized by fire, they take risks and are prepared for the worst consequences. They fail a lot, and therefore know a thing or two about how to get out of it—and ultimately win.
Leaders do the right thing, always.
If you work in an industry with proven processes and set ways of doing things, ‘Doing the right thing always’ is super hard and often unpopular. Instead, most people keep doing the same things in the same old ways over and over again—because they know it always works.
Leaders, on the other hand, bring a fresh approach to solving problems and are never shy of taking the path less trodden. They force people to think in new and different ways and then break some constraints. Sure, in the short term many leaders lead a lonely battle—but in the end, their radical leadership and out-of-the-box thinking often results in innovation.
So, when you are considering an MBA, in addition to asking yourself, Will it help my career? also ask, Will it help me become a better leader? A game-changer?
This post originally appeared on the BSchool Talkies blog, run by MBA ’14 alum Abhishek Chakravarty.