Written by: Robin Goldsbro, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
An MBA has long been recognised as the pinnacle of achievement in business and leadership, signifying a significant investment in your career. It not only equips you with essential skills and knowledge but also sets you apart from other leaders.
However, I pose a question: Is there a level beyond the MBA, a new level of leadership? I contend that not only does such a level exist, resulting in improved performance and well-being, but also that the future of the world hinges upon it.
In the bustling heart of the city, amidst the towering buildings and ceaseless cacophony, lived a young professional named David. He was ambitious and had set his sights on becoming an exceptionally successful leader in the corporate world. To achieve this goal, he decided to pursue an MBA, believing it would equip him with the necessary skills and knowledge.
Part 1: What an MBA can teach you
David embarked on his MBA journey, eager to soak in the wisdom of seasoned professors, engage in spirited debates with his classmates, and immerse himself in case studies from diverse industries. Along the way, he discovered several valuable lessons that an MBA could teach him about becoming an exceptional leader.
1. Strategic Thinking: The MBA program introduced David to the art of strategic thinking. He learned how to analyse complex business situations, consider various perspectives, and make informed decisions that aligned with an organisation's goals and values.
2. Leadership Development: Through leadership courses and team projects, David learned leadership skills. He realised that being a leader meant not just managing people but also inspiring and empowering them to reach their full potential.
3. Global Perspective: His international business courses broadened David's worldview. He understood the importance of cultural sensitivity, diversity, and the ability to navigate global markets – crucial attributes for a leader in a diverse, interconnected world.
4. Ethical Decision-Making: Ethics and corporate social responsibility were core components of his MBA curriculum. David learned that a leader should make ethical decisions, even when they come at a short-term cost, to build trust and credibility.
5. Financial Acumen: Mastering financial concepts helped David see beyond the numbers and understand the financial health of organisations. This knowledge was essential for making informed business decisions and aligning them with long-term sustainability.
As David approached the end of his MBA program, he realised that while it had equipped him with valuable knowledge and skills, there were some aspects of becoming an exceptional leader that an MBA couldn't address.
David's commitment to becoming the best he could promoted him to complement his traditional studies with an executive coach to work at a deeper level.
What an MBA can't teach you
1. Emotional Intelligence: David understood that being in tune with his own emotions and those of his team members was a critical component of successful leadership and personal well-being. MBA programs often provided limited training in this area.
2. Adaptability and Resilience: Real-life leadership challenges require adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity. While the MBA offered scenarios and case studies, it couldn't fully prepare him for the unpredictable nature of leadership.
3. Empathy and Compassion: A true leader must genuinely care for the well-being of their team members. While MBA courses taught leadership principles, they couldn't instil the empathy and compassion needed to connect with people on a personal level.
4. Purpose and Vision: David realised that an MBA could provide tools for implementing a vision but not necessarily help in discovering one's true purpose or developing a visionary mindset.
5. Personal Growth and Self-Reflection: MBA programs might touch on personal development, but they couldn't replace the introspection and self-reflection needed to become the leader David envisioned. The journey of self-discovery and growth had only just started.
As David progressed with the coach a profound transformation occurred. David experienced a new level of calm and clarity, an intensified focus, and an enriched sense of presence. Through a deep exploration into his own nature, fears, anxiety, and the persistent imposter syndrome, were all cast aside, leaving a well of confidence and reservoir of resilience where stress had once been.
As a consequence, David’s ambitions took on a new perspective. With no perception of internal lack, David found freedom to contribute to something greater than himself. With this, came the sensation of being alive and free.
Upon David's graduation from his MBA program, he found Himself standing at a pivotal crossroads. His traditional education had indeed equipped him with a solid foundation for leadership in the industry, but his work with the coach had also acted as a catalyst for a profound personal transformation. As he reflected on his journey, David came to a realisation: His actions and decisions held consequences far more profound than the conventional bottom line.
This awakening marked a significant shift in his perspective, prompting him to embrace greater responsibility and adopt a purpose-driven, socially responsible, and ethically aligned approach to both his professional endeavours and life as a whole. Armed with the knowledge he had acquired during his MBA and, equally importantly, a deep understanding of its limitations in addressing the holistic challenges of the world, David embarked on a mission characterised by enlightenment, empathy, and unwavering purpose.
An enlightened leader
An enlightened leader is a term often used to describe a leader who possesses qualities and attributes that go beyond traditional leadership traits. An enlightened leader is someone who not only focuses on achieving organisational goals and success, but also places a strong emphasis on wisdom, ethical values and personal and collective growth.
Here are 10 key characteristics of an enlightened leader:
Self-awareness: An enlightened leader has a deep understanding of themselves, their values, and their motivations. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and continuously work on self-improvement.
Empathy: Enlightened leaders are highly empathetic. They can understand and connect with the emotions, needs, and perspectives of their team members and stakeholders. They genuinely care about the well-being of others.
Wisdom: They possess a broader sense of wisdom and long-term thinking. They make decisions that consider the well-being of not just the organisation but also society and future generations. They seek to leave a positive legacy.
Ethical and moral values: Enlightened leaders operate with a strong ethical and moral compass. They prioritise doing what is right over what is expedient, even if it means making tough decisions or facing adversity.
Authenticity: They are genuine and authentic in their interactions. They lead with integrity and transparency, and their actions align with their words.
Servant leadership: Enlightened leaders view themselves as servants to their teams and organisations. They prioritise the needs and development of their team members and empower them to reach their full potential.
Mindfulness: They practice mindfulness and present-moment awareness. This allows them to stay focused, make better decisions, and effectively manage stress and challenges.
Continuous learning: Enlightened leaders are committed to lifelong learning and personal growth. They seek knowledge from various sources and are open to diverse perspectives.
Open-mindedness: They are open to new ideas, perspectives, and feedback. They encourage a culture of innovation and creativity within their organisation.
Environmental and social responsibility: Enlightened leaders consider the environmental and social impact of their decisions. They prioritise sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical business practices above bottom-line results.
Enlightened leaders operate with a deep sense of purpose, an awareness of interconnectedness, and a belief in a higher meaning in their work. They see their roles as not just serving their organisations or own interests, but serving a greater good, acknowledging the profound connections between human well-being and the health of the planet. This holistic perspective transcends traditional leadership models that focus solely on financial success. Instead, they strive for a harmonious balance, striving for positive and sustainable impacts on both their organisations and the world at large. In doing so, they leave behind a legacy that traditional leadership can seldom match; one that resonates with the collective spirit of humanity and its aspiration for a brighter future.
The world's complex issues require leaders who are willing to collaborate, innovate, and prioritise the well-being of both people and the planet. Enlightened leadership is not a luxury, but a necessity for addressing the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century effectively. The absence of which is likely to exacerbate existing global challenges and hinder progress toward a more sustainable, equitable, and harmonious future.
Ultimately, taking up the challenge of becoming an enlightened leader is a deeply meaningful and purpose-driven endeavour that offers the opportunity to create a better world, inspire others, and find personal fulfilment in the process. It is a calling that can transform not only the lives of those they serve but also their own.
David's story was a testament to the potential within each of us to rise above the status quo and champion a new era of leadership—one defined by empathy, purpose, and a commitment to positive global change. It wasn't a path for the faint of heart, but it was the path of those who dared to envision a better world and had the courage to lead us all there.
Robin Goldsbro, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Robin is a Mindset, Leadership and Performance Coach on a mission to help individuals become epic leaders who make a difference in the world.
Through his bespoke one-to-one programs and powerful principles-based strategies, he helps people become the highest expression of their unique and authentic selves, by focusing on their deepest levels of mind, identity and consciousness.
Working with Robin is an empowering experience, bringing clarity, confidence, focus and self-mastery, enabling you to realise continuous excellence, through being more you than you’ve ever been before. This leads to vast improvements in performance and success, but also helps you get back in touch with that feeling of aliveness and joy in all you do.