Managers of the Future: How will they be Educated?

The 2015 Steinbeis Competence Day

Education is of strategic importance, not just for individuals but also for society as a whole. It keeps everything moving forward in a world that is becoming increasingly complex, exacerbated by accelerated change – and occasionally revolutionary change. What could, indeed, what should be the best way to educate leaders in the future? This was the focal topic of the seventh Steinbeis Competence Day, which took place on 3 December, 2015 in the Stuttgart Haus der Wirtschaft (House of Commerce).

This topic was also the focal point of a special research project looking at Leadership Education. The project was spearheaded by the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin and the chair for General Education Science and Education Research at LMU Munich. The research project was presented and discussed over the course of the day, alongside findings to date.

A key issue looked at in all speeches was the topic of competence, which according to the definition of Prof. Dr. John Erpenbeck (SIBE) is the ability or disposition to organize actions oneself. A point highlighted in the opening speech by Prof. Dr. Werner G. Faix (SIBE) was that competence only arises in situations that are challenging.

Thus, such an aptitude is particularly crucial in business, which is becoming increasingly fastpaced and also more uncertain. Prof. Dr. Rudolf Tippelt (LMU Munich) talked about the early “socialization” of managers: what they have in common are resumes that show volunteer work or time spent abroad. Tippelt noted that education now aims to go beyond mere specialist training and that it’s important for up-and-coming managers to learn to deal with uncertainty and about collaborative networking.

The subsequent talks by staff at SIBE included the recent findings of academic papers. Following a survey of managers, Stefanie Kisgen formulated education goals for master’s management degrees. Kisgen asked managers what they think leadership education will be like in 2030. One of her findings: The surveyed managers believe that management degrees will place more emphasis on personality in the future rather than on knowledge. The topic being examined in studies by Silke Keim (Saphir Kompetenz GmbH) is the competence measurement method used for KODE®, a test completed by all SIBE students several times during their studies. These tests make it possible to determine students’ management potential by examining self-assessments and the third-party assessments of business mentors. The comparisons shed light on skills relevant to management such as acquisition strengths and analytical abilities. Measurements from a variety of student courses showed that the self-assessments very frequently overlap with thirdparty assessments. Furthermore, the two values improve over the course of studies with the sharpest rise for innovation propensity and resilience. Competence was another topic looked at in a talk by Ardin Djalali, who compared the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching methods used on MBA degree programs worldwide. Jens Mergenthaler talked about an education model aimed at empowering people to lead others. This also involved taking a closer look at the word “lead” with questions such as “Can you lead a stone?” His response was no, because a stone does not have the option of not following instructions. As a result, leadership means wanting to have an influence on the actions of others, who nonetheless are free to decide if they will follow. Within his model of leadership, Mergenthaler therefore looked not only at leaders themselves, but also at those being led, thus bringing the seventh Steinbeis Competence Day to a close.

The next Steinbeis Competence Day will take place on 6 December 2016.

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