leadership incorporated blog

April 23, 2011

Is this why our business and civic leadership is weak?

Just back from a wild 2-week, 11-school, 4 state college tour with my 17-year old son.

We spent between 4-8 hours per university in presentations, tours, classroom experiences, and so on. This is the time for the schools to put their best face forward, to present what they stand for and what they are committed to.

Are you as surprised as I was that only one of the schools we visited spoke of the responsibility to create people who could play a meaningful leadership role in the world?

(It was Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington). Only two (Whitman and Hampshire) drew direct connections between the experience they were offering and what students would do with that experience in the world upon graduation.

This made me curious, so I took myself on a virtual tour of the mission statements of some of the top universities in the country.

Of the 8 Ivies, half don’t mention leadership in their mission. Only three have it as a core value (Harvard is not one of the three!)

Of 11 liberal arts colleges we looked at, only 4 mention leadership literally or semantically and only 2 have it as a focus.

Many of the schools are blatantly proud as they speak of the “bubble” they create that insulates their students from the world.

So here’s what I’m wondering:

Is the absence of leadership as a core value in our most respected universities and colleges the reason that leadership in this country and the world are so wanting?

Should universities and colleges be responsible for teaching, cultivating, coaching leadership?

If not our universities and colleges, then who? Where should we as a people develop the skills, tools and perspectives that will result in the leadership we so desperately need? Who should invest in developing future leaders?

What do you think?

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