Successful Managers in Industry
- B-school Contribution?


Tameem Farooqui
Ist Year Student
MBA (Full-Time) 2007-09
Osmania University College of Commerce and Business Management
Osmania University


In the era, when skilled managers are of utmost value, many corporate companies scoop down in B-school campuses with the precision of a military maneuver and snatch the choicest talent of their offices around the world.

This makes courses in business management mushroom across the country in general universities and specialized schools, the quality of education, reflected in the knowledge-base and skill-set of the MBA they churn out, is plummeting. The result is acute shortage of employable manpower.

Here in this paper, an attempt has been made to find out the real reasons of this crisis, both from MBA students perspective as well as from B-School perspective. As conclusion, suggestions are given towards the improvement of the situation.

Successful Managers in Industry –
B-school Contribution ?

You don't need a Harvard MBA to know that the bedroom and the boardroom are just two sides of the same ballgame.                                                                                               …..Stephen Fry

When Indian software services giant Wipro Ltd. (WIT ) hires middle managers these days, it doesn't just negotiate pay and benefits. Instead, the company engages in an elaborate mating ritual that includes helping a new hire find a home, providing compensation for lost salary to recruits who don't give enough notice when leaving their previous jobs, and even easing school admissions for their children. "We have to offer a virtual valet service for them," says Sudip Banerjee, president of enterprise solutions at Wipro.( Puliyenthuruthel and Kripalani, 2005)

One good reason to this kind of treatment given to managers at WIPRO is due to the dearth of good managers. This is a replica of the Indian Industry on the whole. The major problem India is facing is of  ' Shortage of  Manpower'.

Accenture plans to increase its India staff by 8,000 people to 35,000, surpassing its U.S. employee base. IBM 's India staff has jumped from 43,000 to 53,000 in six months last year, and it expects to continue growing at that pace. Both Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services are hired about 2,000 people a month in 2007.

At that pace, that's more than 35,000 new hires for these four companies alone, and dozens of other tech companies are rushing to add staff in India. IT employers' biggest problem in India, though, is leadership. "We're not finding a lot of seasoned managers," says Mary Jo Morris, president of Global Transformation Services at Computer Sciences Corp., which employs 7,200 in India. 

The question arises: With half of its 1.2 billion population aged under 25, how can India possibly be short of manpower? The problem lies in quality and not quantity of manpower. Virtually every industry from IT, Retail, Finance, telecommunication, manufacturing and biotechnology is struggling to find skilled workers and managers as they expand. The IT industry alone employs around 348,000 people currently. IT body Nasscom says the industry will be short of 206,000 workers by 2009.(  Weier, 2007)

India produces 400,000 technically trained graduates a year, but many are deficient in areas of specific technical skills, teamwork, and language.(Duggal,2005). According to a survey done by NASSCOM-McKinsey, only about 25% of technical graduates and 10-15% of general college graduates are suitable for employment.(Nasscom-McKinsey report, 2005). Knowing these facts about the employability of qualified manpower, and the alarming scarcity for good manager, one question will certainly arise : 'What  is the definition of  a 'Successful Manager' ?'.

'Management' and Qualities of a 'Successful Manager'

Frederick Taylor (1856 – 1915) defines management as the art of knowing what you want to do and then seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way. Management certainly applies science too but it is more art, based on "insight," "vision," "intuition." And most management is craft, which means that it depends on experience and learning. Put together a good deal of craft with a certain amount of art and some science, the manager ends up with a job that is practice. There is no 'one best way' to manage as it depends on the situation.

In his book, Essentials of Management, Harold Koontz presented various characteristics of effective managers. To be effective, managers need various skills ranging from technical to design. The relative importance of these skills varies according to the level in the organization. In addition, analytical and problem-solving abilities and certain personal characteristics are sought in managers.

Analytical and Problem Solving Abilities

One of the frequently mentioned skills and most desired of managers is analytical and problem-solving ability. That is, managers need to identify the problems, analyze complex situations, and, by solving the problems encountered, exploit the opportunities presented. They must scan the environment and identify, through a rational process, those factors that stand in the way of opportunities. Thus, analytical skills should be used to find needs of present customers – or potential ones – and then to satisfy those needs with a product or service. It has been amply demonstrated that this opportunity seeking approach can mean corporate success. Mere problem identification and analysis are not enough. Managers need also need the will to implement the solutions, they must recognize the emotions, needs and motivations of the people involved in initiating the required change as well as of those who resist change.

Personal Characteristics Needed by Managers

In addition to the various skills that effective managers need, several personal characteristics are also important. They are: desire to manage, the ability to communicate with empathy, integrity and honesty, and the person's experience – his or her past performance as a manager – which is very significant characteristic.

Desire to Manage : the successful manager has a strong desire to manage, to influence others, and to get results through team efforts of subordinates. To be sure, many people want the privileges of managerial positions, which include high status and salary, but they lack the basic motivation to achieve results by creating an environment in which people work together towards common aims.

Communication Skills and Empathy : Another important characteristic of managers is the ability to communicate through written reports, letters, speeches, and discussions. Communication demands clarity, but even more, it demands empathy. This is the ability to understand the feelings of another person and to deal with the emotional aspects of communication.

Integrity and Honesty : Managers must be morally sound and worthy of trust. Integrity in managers includes honesty in money matters, and in dealing with others, effort to keep superiors informed, adherence to the full truth, strength of character, and behavior in accordance with ethical standards.

Past Performance of a Manager : Another important characteristic is past performance as a manager. It is probably the most reliable forecast of a manager's future performance. Past accomplishments are important considerations in the selection of middle-level and upper-level managers.(Koontz and Weihrich, 2007) 

Role of B-SCHOOLS in producing Successful Managers

Let us give an insightful thought into the role of business schools in grooming aspirants to become successful managers. In this section we'll consider B-schools in general and premier Schools in particular.

B-Schools  in India

Soon after India got Independence,  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister, decided to Crete centers of higher education outside university system. With his belief in scientific temper, innovation and experimentation, he wanted to establish global centers of academic excellence in technology and management – the two key drivers of development. In retrospect, IIT's and IIM's both have done nation proud.

Management education began as part-time education for practicing executives. Later in 1962, when the Government of India established Indian Institutes of Management at Calcutta and Ahmedabad in collaboration with the Sloan School of Management, MIT, and the Harvard Business School respectively, full time postgraduate education in management was launched in India. Soon several Commerce Departments in Universities repackaged their curriculum to offer MBA degree. There were exceptions such as University of Delhi and Punjab which established separate faculty of Management.(Sinha,2004).

In the recent report issued by the Department of Higher education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, there were 1052 institutions running MBA programs and the total intake was 80,464 in the academic year 2005-2006.(DHE, MHRD, 2007). In a survey report by Business India, RAMAN and KARMALI says if there were a virtual B-School index then it would be giving the Sensex a good run for its money.

B-school's Classroom Education Vs Real Business environment

There are specialized fields accounting, surgery etc., wherein the job requires some amount of formal training in the classrooms. The students were initially made to handle the tools of the trade before making them work in the real environments. In contrast to those fields, Management is not some body which is abstracted from the doing and the being. Education cannot pour life experience into a vessel of native intelligence, not even into a vessel of leadership potential. But it can help shape a vessel already brimming with the experiences of leadership and life.(Mintzberg, 2004). Organizations are a complex phenomena and managing them requires tacit understanding that can only be gained in the context.

Effective managing therefore happens where art, craft, and science meet. But in a classroom of students without managerial experience, these have no place to meet—there is nothing to do.(Mintzberg,2004). It means that if there is no experience, there is no room for craft. Inexperienced students cannot understand the practice. Hence inexperienced student is the wrong person to join MBA program. Imagine dropping a young MBA student into a classroom of experienced managers, so long as the class remains with theory or technique, at generic level, the student would be fine. But as soon as the discussion turns to application, the student would be lost.

Admission to B-Schools

Most of the Business schools in India enroll students without any criterion of experience. Usually MBA admission in any Business schools is done through an entrance exam. Entrance exams certainly test the measures of intelligence, but formal intelligence. These exams happens to be insufficient screening devices, they are more useful to identify successful students than successful managers. Successful managers have to exhibit all kinds of characteristics that are not measured by the scores achieved in such exams.

B School Menu – Courtesy Business India, Oct 21, 2007.

Here in the figure that appeared in Business India, the criteria to be a great B-school and Great student is listed. All the items on this card highlights either about the state-of-the-art infrastructure or the academic capability of the student.  Consistent academic record doesn't reflect a person's high ethics, integrity and value. Neither has it portrayed ones ability to network with peer. These qualities in students are difficult to test unless the student has experience, where he had proven those qualities in past.

People in typical MBA programs consider themselves fit for becoming a manager, presumably with a belief that leading is better than following. These people, infact, don't intend to move up but to move out in quest of finding a better job.

Business schools select students from this pool of 'self selected leaders'. When they boast about the quality of their students, they almost inevitably cite their past academic performances. But do these numericals measure managerial potential??

In a classic Harvard Business Review article published over three decades ago, "The Myth of the Well-Educated Manager," Sterling Livingston (1971:84) wrote that many people who "aspire to high-level managerial positions . . . lack the 'will to manage.'" Not the need to manage but the will to manage. They "are not motivated to manage. They are motivated to earn high salaries and to attain high status."

Successful managing, in Livingston's opinion, is not about one's own success but about fostering success in others. "Universities and business organizations that select managerial candidates on the basis of their records as individual performers often pick the wrong [people] to develop as managers.... Fewer and fewer [management graduates] are willing to make the sacrifices required to learn management from the bottom up; increasingly, they hope to step in at the top from positions where they observe, analyze, and advise." As shown in Figure 1.1, there are people who have both the will to manage and the zest for business, just as there are people who have neither. The former would seem most suitable for leadership positions in large corporations, just as the latter are suitable for no leadership positions. Those who have the will but not the

Figure 1.1. Business or Management ?

Zest may be suitable for public and social sector organizations. The problem is in the remaining box, with those who have the zest for business but not the will to manage. Such people are numerous in MBA programs.(Mintzberg,2004)

To conclude, Business organizations need Human leaders and not professionals with academic credentials.

How BSchools can meet the Challenge

The advancements of knowledge in the field of management have been spearheaded by Management Consultants and Business School faculty who have devoted considerable attention to corporate problem solving. CK Prahlad, Sumantra Ghoshal, Ram Charan, and other have been practicing consultants and members of the Business School faculty. There is a need for promoting management consulting in Indian Business Schools. Most B schools faculty in India are the best teachers, disseminators of management know-how; they have hardly advanced management knowledge, either through basic research or applied research. This glaring gap has to be met.

Just as medical schools have hospitals which provide opportunity for its faculty to practice, similarly B-Schools need a platform and management development programs provide them the same. Leading B-Schools have management development programs but majority have nothing of that sort.


B-Schools need to act in this crucial hour and equip themselves with research and development in the field of management. This research supported with industry interface strengthens them to introduce innovative ways of learning.

A great deal of responsibility lies on the shoulders of the students too. Its often noticed that young students are allured with the lucrative benefits offered after MBA programs and end up join one such program. They should earn their leadership skills first in the industry they like after proving their potential and practice management. Then only they should get educated in management.


1. Josey Puliyenthuruthel and Manjeet Kripalani,  India : Good Help Is Hard To Find, Asian Business; BUSINESS WEEK; Dated 14th Feb 2005.

2. Mary Hayes Weier; As Hiring Soars In India, Good Managers Are hard To Find, Information Week; Dated Feb 5th 2007 Issue.

3. Sanjeev Duggal ; 'India is suffering from a real shortage of manpower', FE INSIGHT; The Financial Express; Dated November 04, 2005.

4. NASSCOM-McKinsey Report 2005; Extending India's Leadership of the Global IT and BPO Industries.

5. Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich; Essentials of management; Seventh Edition, TMH Publishing, 2007.

6. Dharni P Sinha ; Management Education in India – Perspectives and Challenges, ICFAI Books, 2004.

7. Government of India; Annual Report 2005-2006, Department of Elementary Education and Literacy, Department of Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

8. Thothathri Raman and Naazneen Karmali; Red Hot and Rising, Cover Story, Business India; Dated October 21 st, 2007.

9. Henry Mintzberg ; Managers not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc, 2004.

Tameem Farooqui
Ist Year Student
MBA (Full-Time) 2007-09
Osmania University College of Commerce and Business Management
Osmania University

Source: E-mail March 14, 2008




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