What To Read Now
It’s been a long time since I have written here — it’s March 1 and surely time to pull out the always appropriate blog post on MBA admission chances for Round 3. The basic tenets still hold true: the chances are much slimmer, but if your time is right, your time is right.
The Leadership Component in Admissions
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership. Partly because I’ve been honored to be helping out at the Stanford GSB on what they call L.O.W. Keynote speeches. (“LOW” stands for Change Lives. Change Organizations. Change the World. These are like student TED talks for the students and are a combination of personal and professional.) I’ve also been thinking about leadership because I’ve been reading a lot.
A Pre-MBA Reading List
My reading list is always eclectic, but I am concentrating on books that I think will help pre-MBA candidates think about their future prospects, help potential applicants start on the self-reflection that is required to submit a good application, and indeed, be a great business school student. One book that gets you in the mood for thinking about your future is Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life. Clayton Christensen is a senior professor at Harvard Business School and the author of some famous books on innovation. Here’s his TED talk. The book was interesting in that it encouraged the reader to look at her life as a strategic plan, using the competitive strategy model as a blueprint for life decisions. It mostly works, and got me thinking.
At the same time, a friend of mine, Alison Levine, (picture to the right) published a great, funny, irreverent book on leadership that deserves to be read everyone, including outdoor enthusiasts. Take a look at On the Edge: the Art of High Impact Leadership. Alison is no standard trekker, she is climber who has done the “Explorers Grand Slam,” which includes the highest peak on each continent, skiing across both poles, performing some of these feats while ditching her derivatives final at Fuqua, others while on leave of absence from Goldman Sachs, and still others in between her lectures at West Point and on behalf of charitable organizations. The thing that gets me about Alison, is that she is so alive and funny. I will be writing up an interview with her for Poets and Quants but meanwhile, check out her book of leadership tips, which include things like, “get used to being sleep deprived,” “assume everyone on your team is in a leadership position” and “sometimes the weakest link on the team can be you.” Bad pun but, she rocks.
Articles on Leadership
I can also recommend reading articles on leadership from publications like the Harvard Business Review. To prepare for the self-exploration that is required for not only a great business school application, but a great experience when you get there, take a look at articles that discuss emotional intelligence and authentic leadership. I’ve written quite a bit on emotional IQ, one of the top characteristics business schools are looking for. (Yale School of Management is thinking of incorporating an emotional intelligence test into the admissions process.) Take a look at Daniel Goleman’s classic article on “What Makes a Leader” to get a better understanding of the major characteristics business schools include under the leadership umbrella.
Try looking at articles on “authentic leadership” as well. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and leadership thought leader has written a book on the subject, but you can find a quicker read at the Harvard Business Review. Many people do think that being authentic gives you license to say or do whatever you want. That’s a misunderstanding of the concept of “authentic leadership.” In fact, it means to understand what’s in your heart as well as your head. To figure out who you are at your core and what you stand for, and to learn from mistakes, failures and weaknesses in the quest for self-awareness.
You could get lost in a wonderful vortex or reading and educating yourself, and as I sit here on a rainy afternoon, I think to myself. What other way to spend the day?