Should Creating Value Be Part of Leadership and Education


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In HBR Ryan Gottfredson and Chris Reina wrote, and I quote 

Organizations worldwide spend roughly $356 billion on leadership development efforts. Yet, the Brandon Hall Group, a human capital research and analyst firm that surveyed 329 organizations in 2013, found that 75% of the organizations rated their leadership development programs as not very effective. Why aren’t companies getting more bang for their leadership development buck? Our latest research suggests it’s likely because most leadership development efforts overlook a specific attribute that is foundational to how leaders think, learn, and behave: their mindsets.

That is why focus on training education and in particular, and whether the MBA program truly creates leaders or just imparts knowledge.

Leaders are born, often by circumstances, sometimes by opportunities, but most often by attitudes and mindsets.

My 7As for executives holds for leaders also:

Awareness: Leaders must be aware of things around them, they must be curious, they must want to know more

Attitude: The must have a super attitude, positive, forward thinking and multi-dimensional. Able to be strategic and innovative to practical. Some are functional in nature. Mind-set plays a major role

Ability: Much of this is innate, but some comes from learning and experience. A great mind-set helps here

Agility: This comes from a mind-set and mental make-up

Adaptability: Being able to change with circumstances

Anticipation: Being able to be ahead of others by forward thinking and view. Part of this comes from a 6th sense which is developed in your mind

Ambidextrousness: Capability of doing more than one thing at a time; capacity to think of different things

MBAs are taught functional things. And they are great at these, and in playing what ifs. But the focus on mindset is limited. No one teaches value creation.

I say why not a mindset to get things done, to be liked, to believing in one self, and in history and tradition.

My own experience is that mindset changes during times and situation and most leaders are a complex combination of all of these. In the good all days, we tried ego drive, social drives, tradition and learning drives and the impatience to get things done.

Too much is taught about functional issues and traits but not about true mind set. One that is value creation is a thought process, is a mind-set that makes your training, your background, your psychological needs focus on creating value. How do we teach this which is not taught in MBA programs?

Mindsets are set from childhood experience, likes and dislikes, events and people. Mindset is influenced by books we read, our teachers and parents.

In later life, leadership coaches teach traits and functional changes we need.

Creating Value is a way of thinking. It, if part of the mind-set, becomes a very powerful leadership tool by guiding the thinking towards positive leadership to do good and improve the well being and worth of institutions. Because of its 7As it provides tools to be pro-active. The earlier creating value is taught the better impact it has on mindset.

I am not saying a creating value mindset is the only requisite to be a good leader. It is not, but it is a very positive way of thinking and with other traits can make a leader successful.

Executives and leaders are not taught to create value in MBA courses, and indeed in most education. Instead, the focus is on traits, values and functional skills. All are necessary, but the creating value mindset makes you think of doing good, improving the well being of, increasing the worth of people and institutions, and the more refined, the more capable a leader becomes. He can then see things differently, he can weigh different options simultaneously, he is much more aware, he notices things that others might not, he anticipates in a better way. He is much more adaptable in situations, and has an attitude to see things differently and to win. Winning is just for himself but for the best outcome for the team.

George Mason University cites core values (which are actually traits): “Respect, as demonstrated by self-respect and respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others, making a difference are all traits. Integrity, authenticity, courage, service, humility, wisdom etc. are values.”

Modesto A. Maidique and Nathan J. Hiller is academic director of the university’s Centre for Leadership in MIT divide core mindsets into Sociopath when you serve no one, the Egoist who serves the self, the Chameleon who is good to anyone, the Dynamo who serves goals, the Builder who serves the institution(institution) and the Transcender, who serves society. Everyone has a mix of these, and these mixes can change with circumstances. Thus, you may become amore of a transcender when needed and so on.

That is why it is important for leaders to think of their purpose, and whom they serve.

This is the like the 4 basic traits we look at in people, their ego trait, a social trait, their drive (seen as impatience) and the traditional looking traits where your learning, your traditions, history tend to drive you. The latter are good scholars. The relative importance of these four traits (and we can measure them) determines your personality.

The fact is we are not one self but a combination of many senses that must be controlled by a creating value attitude.

In her wonderful book, Working Identity, author and leadership expert Herminia Ibarra wrote: “We are not one true self but many selves and these identities exist not only in the past and present but also, and most importantly, in the future.

I quote from literature:

Mindsets are leaders’ mental lenses that dictate what information they take in and use to make sense of and navigate the situations they encounter. Simply, mindsets drive what leaders do and why. For example, they explain why two different leaders might encounter the same situation (e.g., a subordinate disagreement) and process and respond to it very differently. One leader might see the situation as a threat that hinders their authority; another as an opportunity to learn and further develop. When leadership development efforts ignore mindsets, they ignore how leaders see and interpret problems and opportunities like this.

Lolly Daskal, thinks of leaders from a point of view of values and traits. Gleeson in Forbes’ talks of traits like openness, ambition, desire for ROI, belief that its important, fear of Consequences of Inaction, soul-Searching, commitment to Self-Improvement.

This might seem obvious, but the best leaders see leadership as excellence and a constant journey as opposed to a destination. They are never truly satisfied with the status quo always asking, “How can I improve?” They are life-long learners and always ripe for growth, he adds.

I feel that we are more comfortable talking about functional things and not the mind set so necessary in a crisis, in a situation requiring change, fast action (or even inaction if necessary)

Bob Dunham of Institute of Generative Leadership talks about a value creation culture:
If we are going to grow a value-creating culture, we need to see that organizations exist to create value, not just to get things done. If what we are doing isn’t valuable, then it likely is waste. As leaders, we want to help our teams, organizations, and communities go from cultures that focus only on excellence in execution to cultures of value creation.

He calls it a field of action that has structure, process, and skills. It’s something that can be learned and grown over time, and it is becoming more of a competitive necessity in a changing world.

We need to make value creation a practice and a skill.

He emphasises that value is as seen by the customer or the beholder

Yes, creating value is an essential part of leadership and education and must be embedded in both, through mindset and thinking.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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