Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leadership, Power and Influence

When I signed up for the Leadership, Power and Influence elective course with Fernando Bartolomé, I knew that there were legends around the professor and his teaching style. Thus, I considered myself warned. The first 10 minutes of the class proved (once again in my life) that no matter how far you can go in your assumptions, life can take you even further.

It must be a legal requirement to have this sign on some of the business school courses!
The first exercise was about the reasons why we had chosen the course, or at least I thought that it was the real purpose of the exercise. In fact, it was about showing us who is the boss in the classroom, that we are arrogant and worthless MBA students and that real power at times has little to do with reason. The course expectations have been correctted on the fly and in a very efficient manner. Hence, Learning 1:

authority works: democracy is a very ineffective way of management and it slows business down.
Progressing onto the next stage, and that being the case analysis, we examined all the things that we won´t be - we will not be CEOs or even VPs on our leaving the IE Business School, no matter how much other professors are trying to convince us of the opposite. Power is in the eye of a subordinate: you always depend on the perceptions of others. Unless you are ready to play the power games, stay out of them. The professor brought home the idea that I am not a God-sent gift to any particular company, but still I might be of some use if handled properly. Hence, Learning 2:
first learn to be a subordinate, and then a leader.
Finally, we leant a lesson of naïvety. Me and some of my most distinguished classmate were having really hard time figuring out how to deal with seemingly easy situations when you need to approach a high level executive. Our heads are full of learned hypotheses of how to run a business because we have analyzed so many cases, that we think we know it all. The hard truth is that every time we will have to learn it over and over again, and not the pleasant way. Hence, Learning 3:
get real!
Gosh! I expect a lot from this course!!! The professor said that he is unable to change us. I think that was a toungue-in-cheek remark, because otherwise he would not be teaching, would he?

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