Executive development must better equip future leaders - experts tell HR forum

21 May 2013

The traditional approach to executive development in Australia is failing to fully equip leaders for the challenges of the future, according to two of Australia's leading experts in the field of management education.

The Co-Dean of the University of Sydney Business School, Professor David Grant, and the School's Associate Dean, Management Education, Professor Richard Hall, discussed the standard of leadership development at a New South Wales Business Chamber HR Forum.

The forum was held in the midst of what the chamber described as the "current crisis in business leadership". In an introduction to participants, Professor Grant and Professor Hall were said to be "at the forefront of shaping the future of business leadership in Australia".

"The current approach to leadership development is somewhat disappointing," Professor Grant told the forum attended by HR managers from the government, private and not-for-profit sectors.

"Traditional management education is failing to deliver leaders equipped for what is a very dynamic environment both here in Australia and around the world," Professor Grant said.

He told the forum that concerns about the standard of management education and a desire to break the traditional mould had underpinned the development and delivery of the Business School's management education programs.

The Business School's highly successful Global Executive MBA is now in its fourth year while its ambitious and innovative MBA course was launched in February this year.

"Both of these programs are leadership-focused and industry-oriented," said Professor Hall. "We firmly believe that they will produce a new generation of creative business leaders who have the cutting edge knowledge, practical ability and personal skills to lead in the future."

"Contrary to the conventional approach, we are placing a unique emphasis on the practice of leadership rather than what might be described as more 'traditional' competencies," added Professor Grant. "In this way we believe that our courses have a significant impact on management and corporate leadership in this country."

"Emphasising the practice of leadership, rather than just evaluating according to a set of leadership competencies, means seeing leadership as relational - something that is done through and with other people," said Professor Hall.

While efforts by the Business School to raise the standard of management education was applauded, organisers told HR professionals at the forum that they too had an important role to play in preparing the leaders of the future.

"Given the debate and talk of a crisis in business leadership and an environment characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, it is now more important than ever for HR professionals to take a driving role in the development of successful leaders," the organisers concluded.

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