The Economist says that Stanford university’s Graduate School of Business prides itself on offering the world’s most selective MBA program. Its class of 420 students is less than half the size of that of its arch-rival, Harvard Business School – and represents just 6% of applicants, compared with 10% or so for HBS.
The school’s three most popular facultative courses are:
“Paths to Power” – designed for the budding Machiavellian. The opening line of the course syllabus laments that “insufficient sensitivity to, and skill in, coping with power dynamics” have cost many talented people promotions and even their jobs. The objective of the course is to make sure “you never have to leave a position involuntarily”.
If “Paths to Power” trains future leaders to conquer external opposition, “Touchy Feely” directs them to turn their gaze to their own public image. The course, perhaps the GSB’s most famous, has been running for half a century. Its aim is to help students assess whether the way they come across to others is the way they want to be perceived.
The third popular course, “Managing Growing Enterprises”, is not about small-business accounting. Rather, the focus is on how to deal tactfully in sensitive situations, when many aspiring managers are tripped up by an inability to find the right words. How do you lay someone off? How do you decline unsolicited and unhelpful advice from a big investor? How do you respond to a nosy journalist?
These courses are not just for MBA students!
I’ve seen enough assholes who fuck up their lives big time because they are not politically astute, are not self-aware and are insensitive.