My journey back to school has made me realize the skill school forbade me from learning is the single most important one I use in my job: delegation.
I have been running a research company I founded for 5 years now, and no single skill I have learned matters to my leadership abilities more than delegation. The only reason our company thrives is that other people do things I could never do myself, and it would be self-destructive and short-sighted to even try to hog the work on any task.
However, I returned to law school to finish my degree, and felt the limitations of my student life fall again squarely on my shoulders. Every assignment, every class felt uncomfortably heavy almost immediately, not because they were meaningless or useless, but because I could not treat them like a problem seeking a solution. Like an obstacle for me to overcome with my greatest asset–my team.
This simple rule, that I must turn in only my own work, makes sense only in the sterile world of the bean counting metric junkies, who worry not about whether I build great things but whether I built them alone. No client has ever peered suspiciously over my work, suggesting that perhaps I may have gotten outside, illicit assistance. Or worse, Googled and found someone else’s solution.
I’m not saying that all schools must immediately revise their grading systems to teach leadership or fit my needs. Far from it–I am telling anyone else struggling under the burdens of leadership, your school simply cannot help you. Recognize that there is no way to prepare for real challenges by getting high grades on fake ones. And learn to value the skills of others, lest you drown in your own inbox and incompetence.
3 thoughts on “Caging the leaders of the future”
Your implicit faith in “leadership” perplexes me. I think it’s a mostly empty concept, however long it has been flogged by bad business schools. I am an old but nevertheless open-minded dude. If anyone can show me two (2) scholarly studies that tend to demonstrate that quality of whatever can reasonably be called leadership makes any difference to organizational performance, I will correct myself publicly with exemplary humility. “Scholarly studies” are published in double-blind refereed journals. Yes, I used to teach management! One of my mediocre former colleagues my have put this magical concept in your head. I apologize in his/her name.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
-George S. Patton
And both of you are absolutely correct
Love this quote! I have been a huge fan of auftragstaktik (https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/04/28/auftragstaktik_decentralization_in_military_command_111267.html), the military concept of decentralized, mission-based command, for a long time and it is heartening to see a genius like Patton endorse its central principle.