Why MBA “Stars” Don’t Necessarily Make Good Managers

I was reading Bob Sutton’s blog and I was reminded of another reason why top notch MBA candidates are not always the best team members let alone managers.

Unfortunately, the students who get into fancy schools like MIT and Stanford and are evaluated both before and after they arrive largely on their individual performance: BUT then life plays a cruel trick on them, forcing them to work in groups, to deal with the messiness and sometimes craziness of human groups — and their individual brilliance is no longer enough and they have all those damn people, with different needs, opinions, priorities, and skills, and different schedules too, to deal with.

If you’ve been selected and groomed based on one set of standards (individual performance) it’s hard to accept that those old standards don’t work any more and your success will be based on a new standard: the ability to work with a group to create, innovate and ultimately produce results as a team.

Individual performance is based on a different set of skills, talents, and motivations than group collaboration. So even if you can make the internal switch to accept the new standards, you aren’t necessarily going to have the right kind of motivation, the right skills, or the right talents to succeed at collaborative work.

Management isn’t easy, it’s hard work that requires really understanding people, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and creatively organizing them to accomplish things as a group that none of them could accomplish on their own. Unfortunately that’s just not what they teach in school, so you have to learn it somewhere else.

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