Or why spending a month working in a kindergarten should be obligatory for MBAs.
Nice Cotê d'Azur airport, departure hall, eight thirty in the morning:
A small chap, about two years old, discovered that one of the flower beds was full of small and round stone pellets. Breaking into a huge grin he grabbed what his little hands could hold and plodded over to the middle of the hall where he happily spread his spoils.
His mother leapt to her feet, rushed over and started to pick up pellets while shouting "no Robin, no, no!" to Robin who was over at the flower bed again. He turned to his mother and smiled broadly as you could see his thoughts "ah, mother wants to play too, great!".
When Robin arrived carrying a second load for his mother to pick up her orders were stern; "absolutely not, no, no!" grabbing his hand to give it a quick slap.
Robin's face changed immediately, "hey, what's this, mother wanted to play and now she slaps me??". Robin was confused and quite disturbed by this surprising turn of events.
Sitting a few feet away I was itching to send the mother away as I had a different plan:
Go over to the loose pellets, happily turn to Robin and show him how much fun it is to chase loose pellets and gather them one by one then walking them back together for some noisy pellet distribution in the flower bed.
Wrapping up with some "ah" and "oohs" over the return of order in the departure hall.
Or something along that line while fully embracing his game, then developing it towards a direction that would gain us both. Giving leadership a chance.
It is truly amazing how easily adults revert to command and control mode, aka managing, when surprised. In particular when they know they're scrutinised in departure halls and supermarkets, "Oh gawd, everybody sees how bad a parent I am, how little control I have, must get in control immediately!"
But toddlers do not understand being managed, such efforts are met with tears and tantrums, and later when they're teenagers they tell you to your face while at last becoming adults they swallow hard and feel miserable.
Toddlers understand leadership, somebody they respect showing the way, teenagers expect leadership while adults work better under real leadership and no managing.
Every MBA course should have a section where the students are responsible for little people, in a kindergarten, for at least a month.
[Bonus: Alfred did a post here (comments limited to Windows Live ID, so comment is here).
He suggests kindergarten is too easy, let CEOs try last year high school students! Have to agree to that having spent all my student vacations being a substitute:
If the first subject with a new class was one of my favourites (maths, physics etc.) I earned respect immediately, a respect that lasted. If the first subject was one of my weak areas (geography say) I got no respect and could never turn the back to the class without risking flying apple-cores and other missiles ;)
Perfect bio-feedback on leadership abilities I'll say!]