Financial TimesBusiness School: Kindness, business lessons post-covid, career advice

January 18, 20210
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Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.

Andrew Hill’s management challenge

After the year most people have had, it would be understandable if “compassion fatigue” were a problem. But new research I’ve written about this week confirms being kind to others can be good for you — and the kindness pool can be replenished.

That’s great news for leaders who may be feeling strung out, but I still worry that many will soon drop the more humane approach they adopted when the pandemic hit as they face the uncertain future. For my management challenge, put yourself in the shoes of a chief executive forced to make job cuts and draft the start of the memo to staff that explains the decision, in the most compassionate way possible. Please send your entries to bschool@ft.com or post suggestions in the comment field beneath the content.

In further reading this week, Sam Walker’s round-up in the Wall Street Journal of some great motivational tools for put-upon leaders. “How you perform under duress depends on how constructively you manage your own discomfort,” he points out, citing psychiatrist Ceri Evans.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

A quarter of businesses believe that the significant changes they have had to make to continue operating during the pandemic will remain in place even as the health crisis subsides, research by the Cems Global Alliance of business schools has found. “It is clear that traditional approaches to learning in large lecture theatres and leadership based on staid and inflexible ideas are dead,” said Greg Whitwell, its chair.

The pandemic has also sparked debate about topics and values to be taught. At HEC Paris, midway through the search for a dean after the departure of Peter Todd last year on health grounds, students and alumni have lobbied for the new leader to show a commitment to sustainability and green issues. 

Another change may be in the variety of future students. The UK government last week announced it would end the controversial funding of MBAs in England through the apprenticeship system. Yet two of the largest providers of the senior leader apprenticeship, Henley Business School and Cranfield School of Management, told me that they will continue offering the course with employer funding, as I predicted in this piece last year. 

For those hoping for rapid change to workplace culture, here is a sobering tale. Elisabeth Kelan, professor of leadership and organisation at Essex Business School, describes the frustratingly slow move towards gender balance in the workplace in the Harvard Business Review. She highlights many small and subtle examples to fight “gender fatigue”.

Data line

Business and management graduates from European schools rated their school’s career service out of ten in six different areas. MiM alumni were slightly more positive than MBA graduates about the careers service offered by business schools, says Sam Stephens.

Bar chart of Average score out of ten given to six services offered by European business schools' career offices. Ratings are provided by MBA and MiM graduates. showing Business schools' career services are valued by Management and MBA alumni

However, both sets of alumni were very positive for all six categories. Around 88% of the graduates use their business school’s career service — and this number is fairly constant over the past five years. According to alumni, organising networking events and company presentations are the two categories in which schools have been performing particularly well in. Further analysis of European schools and alumni can be found here.

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Top business school reads

Donald Trump is impeached for second time Bipartisan House vote charges president with ‘incitement to insurrection’ in deadly Capitol attack

James Murdoch blasts US media for unleashing ‘insidious forces’ Comments from Rupert’s son are his strongest rebuke of industry practices since leaving the family business

Jack Ma vs Xi Jinping: the future of private business in China The crackdown on Alibaba and Ant Group amounts to an unprecedented squeeze on a ubiquitous ecommerce empire

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