Not only was it the #65 song of 1981, but Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust is appropriate for today as well. No, not because of its driving bass line or its well timed injections of Brian May “Red Special” guitar riffs; rather because today we sadly bade adieu to our Leading People in Organizations course. Technically we still have a group paper to write and a final exam to take, so it isn’t “over” per se, but gone are the case studies of extreme management methodologies, engaging lectures, and musical tie-ins to course themes.
When I decided to come to IMD, LPO was essentially what I had in mind, academically speaking. My leadership development prior to 2008 had been exclusively learning by doing, and I certainly learned a lot leading football (American) teams, university organizations, volunteer groups, and software companies. However, I was just doing what seemed to work and who was to say that that was optimal? Could it scale to larger organizations? Could it transfer to other industries? Would it work with multinational teams?
I thought it was probably naive to think that there were universal “best practices” in management but I at least wanted to study what others had done–in a variety of contexts–to augment my arsenal of leadership “tools” for the future. That is exactly what I found in LPO: systematic analysis of people-centric managment challenges in contexts as varied as European orchestras, New York investment banks, and Chinese manufacturers.
Maury, our professor–or perhaps “maestro” is a more appropriate term–brought much more to our lectures than just case studies and discussion leading; he also brought culture and class. This was driven home as he concluded our final session by reading us a poem, The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes. This left us in a pensive, reflective mood, which we combatted by surprising him with a gag parting gift: a toy keyboard! Although it is probably useless to him, hopefully he will at least take the meaning that we all thoroughly enjoyed his performance and many of us are hoping for an encore during electives.