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B-schools can't teach you visionary leadership
Habil Khorakiwala
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July 04, 2006

A B-school equips you to become a successful manager. What it does not and cannot teach is visionary leadership. Leadership is often confused with management.

Management is all about achieving objectives through creative ideas and strategies. Visionary leadership involves the ability to look into the future and predict the future. It requires lots of guts, courage of conviction and risk-taking ability to pursue the vision with vigour.

But that is not enough. A visionary leader is a great communicator and teacher. He has the ability to transplant his conviction to his followers and inspire them to work for the vision, with enthusiasm and dedication.

He can inspire such conviction that his people not only give their best efforts to fulfill the vision, but are even willing to undergo sacrifices to achieve the lofty goal. Gandhi was a great leader. In business, there are many examples of visionary leaders who have taken their companies to great heights.

There is lot more to visionary leadership than talent, intelligence and determination. There is a human side to leadership. The human side is evident while dealing with sensitive issues.

At the same time, the leader does not get obsessed with the human issues and lose out on the tough, relentless pursuit of the vision. One has to balance both sides - it comes naturally to visionary leaders.

To succeed, one has to accept the world as it is and rise above it. One cannot see the world in black and white. One has to operate in areas of grey and pursue objectives through uncertainty and ambiguity.

Can these be taught? Learning concepts of leadership will not make every student a visionary leader. As management thinker Russel Ackoff said, you can be taught to draw, sculpt or compose.

Doing these things well will not automatically make you a great artist, sculptor or composer. A visionary leader is a great artist, inspiring and driving everyone around to achieve his visionary goal.

Habil Khorakiwala is chairman, Wockhardt Group. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1983

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