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11-month program comprises four 10-week themes, a dynamic studio environment and three field-based trips.

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MASTERMINDS BLOG: BENTLEY'S GRAD STUDENTS TELL IT LIKE IT IS

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Most recent post

The Philosophy of Leadership

By Alex Athans
April 25, 2015

leadership marker

Times are changing, and the old ways of doing business aren’t working. The world needs a new generation of leaders with a different perspective, and while several of the tried-and-true approaches to leadership and management are still as vital as they were on the day they were invented, it has been clear for at least two decades that something is amiss. With two weeks remaining in the BMBA program and the job hunt heating up, I have found myself able to use concepts I have learned and discussed during the Leadership theme in my quest for full-time employment.

Board Room

The weeks since our return from South Africa have been packed with insight about leadership in all of its various forms–and with all of its various responsibilities–as taught by Professors Marcus Stewart, a management professor with a specialization in organizational behavior, and Jeffrey Moriarty, a philosopher with an interest in ethics.

Wait, philosophy? That’s right. That’s how we do things here in Waltham. It’s not always easy being the tip of the spear, but there are brilliant reasons for crossing the arts with the sciences. Have you ever asked yourself what kind of a leader are, or want to be? What is a leader “supposed” to look like, anyway? Think about the best ways to motivate a team: What incentives do you give–do you want to use carrots and sticks, or try to create intrinsic motivation? Diverse teams perform better than homogeneous ones, but how do you create one, and once you have, how do you manage the diversity? Is it better to be loved and revered as a leader, or feared and respected? And we haven’t even touched on ethics: How do leaders cultivate ethical behavior in themselves and their teams? Are all stakeholders worthy of consideration when making decisions, or just the shareholders? Philosophy can help everyone from mid-management to the C-suite clarify and resolve these recurring issues.

Lao TzuIt’s no wonder we have been consulting Lao Tzu, Aristotle, Kant, Plato, and Machiavelli along with the more traditional leadership curriculum. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve taken a good, hard look at ourselves and the traps we may be falling into due to our own cognitive blind spots and internal defense mechanisms which negatively affect decision making and team performance. There appears to be a dearth of self-aware leadership out there, so it’s rather exciting to be a part of changing the paradigm. And lest you think this is isolated to us here on Forest Street, we’re not the only ones who can read the writing on the wall.

Heavy stuff. But also insanely practical. On job interviews and at networking events, I have found it easier to articulate my own philosophies and ideas of how a business leader should manage a team, comport himself, and achieve success. Maybe those old dudes in togas were on to something after all.

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