Dorothy McKee, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, presented a fascinating paper that explored the extent to which executive development (read professional development for executives) that focusses on leadership, governance and business ethics has a positive impact on business performance.
The research was insightful, for it bridges the oft-discussed chasm that exists between academia and practice. Courses bathed in research rigour and practical application are far less common than you'd expect. I have been critical of the way many academics happily resist any activities that might see them becoming tainted by 'the real world'. Yet McKee walked right into the centre of the issue, and intentionally so, to try to gain some understanding as to what is really going on and what needs to go on to ensure executives are appropriate equipped to to lead and direct well. She surveyed and interviewed a group of business executives who are also graduate business students (Masters level). The findings were very revealing:
While none of these insights were particularly revolutionary, they reinforce the "I think this is correct but can't put my finger on it" perceptions held by many working directors and business executives. The insights provide great guidance for professional bodies (including the Irish Institute of Directors) to inform the development of their professional development programme. They also speak volumes to academics, to get busy and to produce some meaningful theory-based models and frameworks to support the emerging perceptions of skilled and insightful executives.
Given the overlap between our research interests and professional backgrounds, McKee and I plan to get together in a few months time, and advance these ideas, with a view to developing some new professional programmes for working directors. If you are interested in learning more, including the possibility of becoming an early adopter, please contact me.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.