Education is a wonderful thing, but anyone who has been in the actual workaday world for more than five minutes can tell you what you learn in school doesn’t compare to the actual application of that information. While, yes, an MBA is a great thing, it’s not the end-all-be-all of business wisdom. There’s quite a bit your MBA professors didn’t teach you. Here are four, in no particular order.
Asking the right questions is much more important than having all the answers. Here’s a secret: you don’t always know what you’re talking about. You might really, really want to believe the nonsense you just spouted, but it’s much better for you and your business to actually know about what you are talking about. That takes understanding, and understanding requires you to ask the right questions.
The “born leader” thing is, for the most part, a myth. Yes, some personality types do management better. It’s definitely easier for some people to lead than others. The behaviors come more naturally … but that doesn’t mean they come by osmosis. You must study them, learn them, absorb them, and make them your own. Think about it. You might be six-five and 300 pounds, but that doesn’t make you a shoe-in for an NFL team. You still need to know how to move and when to move. You need to have the skills.
Leadership is not the same as management. While some people assume “leadership” is synonymous with “management” one of these words is positional, one is actionable. Being a manager does not automatically make you a leader. You are a manager because you have a certain set of responsibilities – it’s a position. You are a leader only if people follow you. You may want to be a leader, but, no matter what, you have to earn it by inspiring others to follow you.
Speaking of, managers are not the only leaders in an organization. At least, they’d better not be. To be a leader, you must do something worthy of being followed or emulated. Anyone in any position can be a leader, regardless of title or pay grade. For a manager, it can be tough to get out of the way of a leader who is supposed to be subordinate to you. But if you keep them from being successful, it will only bring you down.
Roman Temkin is a real estate developer who works in New York city.