Training Future Business Leaders by John M. Toothman, PhD

March 7, 2011

EXERCISE: How can the educational process be improved, and how can future business leaders prepare and execute the necessary changes?

GOALS: To encourage business school graduates to become effective agents of change.

To provide business school graduates with the necessary training resources.

ASSUMPTIONS: Self-knowledge and improvement are imperative.

Business school graduates must develop a common set of skills and an understanding of worldwide cultural values.

I. Personal Development

The first principal in personal development is to help the business school graduate understand and be engaged in self-development.

A. The student must be assisted in identifying his or her particular personal strengths so that he or she can ultimately provide the same insight to others.

B. The student must be assisted in identifying his or her particular personal weaknesses so that these weaknesses can be remedied and possibly converted into strengths.

C. The student should be urged to take a battery of humanistic psychological tests (Q-SORT Test, Internal-External Locus of Control Test, The Rathus Assertiveness Test, Self-Esteem Inventory, and The Bem Sex-Role Inventory); Rogerian-style counseling sessions; observing and recording personal behavior (such as smoking, eating, socializing, exercise, fears, etc.); simulated trial exercises; genealogy narratives based on Bowen Family Therapy Systems; and the writing of psychological narratives that are designed to create a profile of his or her personality.

Based on this profile, an individual prescription for self-development is prepared by the faculty and the student. Critical to the success of the entire process is the meaningful participation of the student in every decision concerning his or her personal development.

II. Training Resources

A. Self-Knowledge

The Socratic philosophy–“know thyself”–applies no where as strongly as in the case of the business student. Only a person who truly impresses others as the “master of his or her soul and captain of his or her fate” can command the respect from others.

A business student should be encouraged to participate in training groups, nonverbal labs (such as the Gestalt Sharpening the Body and Mobilizing the Muscles Exercises) , marathon groups, issue-specific groups (such as anger, depression, assertion training, and diversity). Additional training in health management, nutrition, pharmacology, meditation, Yoga, medical hypnotherapy, massage therapy, holistic medicine, and stress management is imperative.

B. Self-Maintenance

The student should have the ability to care for his or herself under all circumstances. Relevant here are skills in locating affordable living quarters, furnishing these quarters, preparing sustaining meals, purchasing clothing, keeping personal finance records, and above all, maximizing scarce purchasing power.C. Self-Presentation

The student, recognizing that the medium is a significant part of the message, should have a superior command over the art of self-presentation. Group work in dealing with stage fright can often alleviate this all too common fear.

D. Self-Defense

The student, male or female, should have superior, keenly-honed skills of self-defense (varying with personal philosophy of aggression).

Physical abilities such as sight, hearing, endurance, coordination, body building, concentration, and tension-management (such as Yoga and Ch’i Gong) should receive attention.

E. Communications

The student should have highly developed writing and speaking skills. Course work in report writing, magazine and academic journal writing, debating, speech-making, and the art of cross examination. Colloquial jargon and Internet “language” merit consideration because of their pervasive use.

The art of teaching should be second nature to the accomplished graduate business student. The ability to frame a presentation appropriate to a particular audience is required. The student should always know who his or her audience will be.

F. Second Language/Cultural Understanding

The student should be competent in at least one other language or, at a minimum, should have an understanding and acceptance of another culture. This will enable the student to view the world through another “set of eyes.”

G. Internet Skills

The student should be proficient in all the basic computer programs. An emphasis should be added to accessing the world of cypberspace with adventure and curiosity where cross cultural exchanges of ideas takes place on a daily basis.

H. Expertise in One or More Areas

The student should strive for a degree of excellence in one or more areas of specialization. Ideally, one’s passion could be developed to a connection that would yield personal growth and satisfaction.I. Financial Skills

The student should have a self-confident command of the art of managing finances and the power of compounding. The central idea is to put finances under one’s own personal control.

J. Administrative Skills

The student should have a self-confident command of the soundest and latest advances in the science of administration. Issues in organizational analysis, group dynamics, humanistic psychology, industrial psychology, and operations research should be familiar to the graduate business student.

Working toward a more open-minded thought process while developing the ability to be empathetic to a wide range of cultural diversity should be second nature to the graduate business student.

K. Empathy Skills

The student should be able to go beyond the “traditional” egocentric mind. This means that the student must realize that not all the people he or she comes in contact with share his or her cultural and economic background. Others may not have access to education, health care, adequate nutrition, stable home life, and healthy environmental conditions. The goal here is to put oneself in another person’s shoes and also to offer help, understanding, and equality to another less fortunate person. This would help erode the more traditional thoughts of the business world being cold, selfish, and overall punitive in nature.

L. Philosophical and Psychological Skills

The student must read and learn from the philosophical and psychological foundations of human kind and, maybe, the student will find the foundations and the courage to build his or her dream. Some suggested readings are the following:

Rogers, C. R. (1961) On becoming a person. Boston:Houghton Mifflin

Maslow, A. H. (1972) The father reaches of human nature. New York:Viking

Adler, A. (1958) What life should mean to you. New York:Capricorn

Skinner, B. F. (1948/1976) Walden two. New York:Macmillan

Erikson, Erik H. (1950/1963) Childhood and society. New York: W. W. Norton

Ellis, A. (1973) Humanistic psychotherapy: the rational-emotive approach. New York:McGraw Hill

M. Social Change Skills

The student needs to develop an ability to look for alternative ways of providing essentials for survival that can often be blocked or controlled by social and economic conditions beyond one’s control. For example, if housing costs become unaffordable, the student needs to look for new alternative ways of living, such as modular homes, communal living, change of location, and a reduction in needed square footage. As food prices rise, it may mean eliminating prepackaged foods and eating staples that are often not subject to price fluctuation. A student has to look at what one needs as opposed to what one wants.

The overall idea of social change skills is to give the student control over his or her life process. This means placing one’s life back into one’s control.

N. Futuristic Skills

The future graduate business student needs to look into the future, play with fantasy, and at the same time, develop a sense of destiny. Readings in the futuristic literature field should be a requirement for the contemporary business student.

Copyright 1981, revised 1988, 1992, 1998, 2004


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Hyde, Janet S., (1985). Half the human experience: the psychology of women. Lexington:Heath and Company.

Rathus, Spencer A. (1973). “A 30-item schedule for assessing assertive behavior” Behavior Therapy. Vol. 4.

Rogers, C. R. (1975). Client-centered psychotherapy. Baltimore:Williams & Wilkins.

Rotter, J. B. (1971, June). “External control and internal control” Psychology Today.

Rue, Thomas S. (1998). “Genealogy as a tool for self-knowledge and family therapy”

Ryden, Muriel B., (1978). “An adult version of the coopersmith self-esteem inventory” Psychological Reports, Vol. 43.