Can it be that the leadership educational industry has been blind for so long? What Claudio Feser, Nicolai Nielsen and Michael Rennie marked as being “missing in leadership education” in the McKinsey Quarterly Report of August 2017 has been practiced successfully and for everyone visible since the Middle Ages.

What is missing in leadership development – McKinsey Quarterly Report August 2017

After the industrial revolution followers of Fredrick Taylor applied scientific management to education in the Anglo Saxon world. Today, this turns out to be a major problem. During that time they gave up the “good old system of apprenticeships” whilst the German speaking part of the world shaped the Dual Educational System, a further development of the traditional apprenticeships.

Let us take our Global MBA is a typical example for successfully implemented dual education. McKinsey&Company recommends: “Focus on shifts that matter”. Our Global MBA students solve real management problems at work that are most critical to the overall performance of their companies or business units. Executive management education cannot be more relevant and focused on shifts that matter. A side note: this is nothing new. It has been practiced for about the last 1000 years!

McKinsey&Company recommends: “Make it an organizational journey, not cohort specific”. The answer we offer: design tailor made programmes whereby you take each individual student through his or her own company. Forget about cohorts whereby all students study on the same case and solve management problems that have been solved by many student generations before. And – most importantly: a journey takes time. It takes our students two years whilst we look over their shoulders at their workplace: A fantastic experience for them and also for us as faculty. A side note: An apprenticeship has been a journey for at least three years. Nothing has changed during the last 1000 years till today.

McKinsey&Company recommends: “Design for the transfer of learning”. Our answer: Use technology in order to intensify the personal contact between the student and the teacher. Let the teacher become a coach that needs to see what is happening at work. This system will only work once the coach has sufficient executive management experience and can relate to the students’ problems: a major issue for most of today’s prestigious business schools around the world. A side note: one only needs to study history in order to discover that the best design for learning has been out there in the market for centuries: An apprentice and his master.

McKinsey&Company recommends: “Embedding change”. The challenge of embedding change is rooted in the traditional disconnection of the facilitator and workshop from the real working environment and colleagues of those that need to be trained. In our Global MBA, students involve their colleagues from day one in finding solutions. Required change is owned not only by a leader (the student) and related personal wisdom but by those that must change and that have been involved in the process of developing implementable problem solutions.

It is the tayloristic approach that leads to the roots of inefficient leadership education in the Anglo Saxon world. Management scholars would just have to dig a bit deeper into history in order to discover that the solutions they seek for today have been developed already and practiced successfully over centuries.

Dr Andreas Kelling