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BW Businessworld

Leadership In B-Schools: Happiness Leads To Success

Self-Leadership and Happiness should be increasingly integrated in the curriculum of more B-Schools to create better future-ready leaders

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An alarming recent study revealed that a large percentage of the students at Harvard Business School reported being depressed, and even having contemplated committing suicide since they enrolled in this leading B-School. 

One reason for this could be found in the title of Marshall Goldsmith's bestseller, "What got you here, won't get you there". The best and the brightest from all over the world who are admitted in this institution suddenly find themselves, largely, just being 'average' among their competitive peers. 

The second reason could be found in Simon Sinek's research that millennials (a sociological group most B-School students belong to) are largely unequipped for engaging in meaningful interpersonal interactions and consistently maintaining emotional stability and drive. Some causes he elaborates include the deluge of technology and information, age of instant gratification, confused values, and lack of clear purpose and identity. To add to these stressors while being a student at a B-School, the fact remains that competition, change, crises, challenges and conflict are all constants in today's VUCA world. Even beyond B-School. 

To create leaders to not just survive, but to thrive in such a world is what I believe should be the main purpose of a B-school. However, this cannot happen by largely only focusing on teaching how to manage 'Resources' to get 'Results'. There needs to be a renewed emphasis on also teaching students how to be more 'Resourceful' by simultaneously managing 'Relationships' and being 'Relaxed' and 'Resilient' in the process. They should also be taught to 'Re-invent' themselves when necessary, 'Recharge' their own batteries at will and also 'Rejoice' through it all.  

Happiness Training needs to be included in the curriculum of B-Schools 

Research in Meta Mind Management, a new field of study for optimising and aligning human potential for happiness, suggests that such education must have the following components:

Crystallization of Philosophy:

A B-School should be more of what Peter Senge calls a 'learning organisation', and develop in each student what Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck calls a 'Growth-Mindset'. A student should, through an academic environment that supports inquiry, dialogue, introspection and experimentation, be able to develop the habits of openness, observation, objectivity and ownership (for one's own understanding and growth) in order to make questioning, contemplating and learning ingrained qualities. This will allow deeper self-understanding and the formation of an identity that is ever-growing and does not attach one's self-worth to success or failure. This can be the foundation for creating a clear and compelling vision with a  coherent value system and crystallised philosophy. 

Cultivation of Competence: 

To manage self and others, well honed soft-skills account, according to research, to 85 per cent of success in the business world. Unfortunately, usually most soft-skills training programs ignore the aspect of training on related mindsets. Without training attitudes and core beliefs related to each skill, the skill does not get internalised.   

Channelisation of Focus:

Engagement comes from developing a set of inner qualities for self-motivation and positive focus. Focus is the driver of excellence, says Daniel Goleman. Managing a stable emotional climate within to sustain peak-performance and effective decision-making requires developing a level of equanimity, an ability to pause, reflect, anticipate, respond not react, while being able to generate and radiate high positive energy through the process. 

Leadership begins with being first, a 'Leader of Self.' And leadership must include in its process, the understanding and training of the mind to be happy. It is no wonder then, that HBS now has the most popular course on positive psychology that teaches the eastern practice of mindfulness for cultivating internally-driven happiness. I believe that Self-Leadership and Happiness should be increasingly integrated in the curriculum of more B-Schools to create better future-ready leaders.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Avinash Ananda

He is a leadership advisor, happiness strategist, key-note motivational speaker, management consultant, master behavioral trainer, executive mentor and peak performance coach. He has taught leadership and happiness to over 250 leaders, change catalysts and 300,000 executives at all levels for over 200 companies in 15 countries in 25 years

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