What they do not teach you at an MBA

What they don’t teach you at school

The world of business has always been geared to acquiring a competitive edge, improving your capabilities, and moving up the ladder to more prestigious and better-paid work.

Credentials and expertise carry a great deal of weight as the world becomes more competitive, and so does the ability to engage and inspire other people.

Becoming a master in your area of expertise and being backed up by a number of credentials will certainly give you part of that competitive edge. But there is more to thriving in the world of business than that.

As stated in the article Leading Your Team Into the Unknown published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) in December 2014, even the likes of billionaire Elon Musk (co-founder of Paypal, Tesla, and Space X) believe there is more to success in business than just qualifications and expertise.

“Elon Musk downplays credentials like MBAs, which may or may not apply to the task at hand. Instead he asks candidates to describe in detail how they solved a complicated problem in order to see what approach that individual is likely to take when moving through complexity and uncertainty”. (HBR 2014)

Don’t get me wrong, I believe having an MBA can do a lot for you, but as times change and people start catching up, it is important to maintain your advantage. Otherwise, what is the point of working for one in the first place?

Having an awareness of how people process their thinking and how they structure their internal experience can create a cutting-edge advantage, to put it mildly.

How can you learn to do this?

There are many ways in which you can assess somebody’s subjective experience. Language, physiology, and gestures are a few elements of human communication that can give you an insight into how somebody is processing their thoughts at a particular moment.

Even more important is to have the capacity to calibrate someone else’s thinking process in order to respond effectively and eventually improve the structure of your own subjective experience “while moving through complexity and uncertainty,” as Elon Musk puts it.

Calibration is detecting patterns in others’ presentation based on your prior experience of that person’s posture, breathing, movement, and choice of words when they have been in a similar state to the one they are in at the present. It does not imply the capacity to know what someone else is thinking, just how they are processing whatever has their attention now. You can learn to recognise when someone is, for example, interested, receptive, otherwise engaged, willing to learn, dismissive, available, under pressure, or demonstrating any other state by observing them through time without attributing meaning and discovering what happens when they present in certain specific ways.

One person’s presentation does not map onto another person. Each one is best calibrated independently of others. Collapsing similar-looking or similar-sounding presentations between people leads to profiling or typing, which does not lead to the level of clear and useful communication you can achieve with good calibration.

Edited by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE.

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