Unlike a physician who responds to individual patients in need of care, a company responds to the collective need of its partners and the greater marketplace. Each customer, employee, supplier, distributor, board member and shareholder enters into a relationship with the company with predetermined needs and goals. It is these numerous partnerships that moderate a company’s operations and effectively serve as its internal governance structure.
Recent scandals in the corporate world have reminded us that internal checks and balances are of critical importance to the successes and failures of a company. For example, if a management team unnecessarily makes its own interests the number one priority, it is the responsibility of the board of directors to seek out and maintain balance for the good of the company and all of its partners. There are systems in place that are the standards for governance within a company.
It is the responsibility of the graduate business school to produce corporate citizens who respect and value the role of business partners. This fall, the Kellogg School of Management introduced a required pre-term course for all incoming, full-time MBA students. Leadership in Organizations is an intensive management and organizations course that focuses on ethical decision making and effective team building, and immediately provides the incoming students with a common language about leadership.
Throughout their education at the Kellogg School, students are exposed to a wide variety of leadership opportunities through both academic and extracurricular activities. Within a peer study group or team project, students inevitably set up a system of checks and balances; proposed strategies are questioned and challenged until an agreed upon approach is approved by the team. With more than 90 student clubs and numerous student-run conferences and events, Kellogg students manage relations with corporate sponsors, distinguished guest speakers and alumni, and in the process they develop firsthand experience in managing diverse partners.
The culture of partnerships formed within a team leadership environment gives our students the experience necessary to ensure that Kellogg School graduates are well positioned to operate effectively across the entire span of an organization.