I am honored today to have the the post that launched LeaderTalk reposted with a fresh introduction by Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership. Dan has been an encouraging supporter for LeaderTalk since the blog’s launch.

I had the pleasure of talking with Dan on the phone last month. He called me at a prearranged time on a weekday afternoon and we enjoyed an hour of sharing our stories and thoughts about leadership. Toward the end of our discussion, I asked Dan an important question: What school comes to mind when you think about leadership education? Before I tell you his answer, I want to ask you the same question. What university do you associate with leadership training and development?

As long as there have been graduate schools, there have been Business Schools and the revered Masters of Business Administration. The degree is so well known and so established that we even call its graduates by the title of their degree; these folks don’t just have MBAs — they ARE MBAs. Maybe you are too.

In our changing world, though, I think it is time for something new.

Miki Saxon at Leadership Turn had a great post yesterday entitled “Composted Leadership.” Her idea is that leadership is best learned in real life situations. She writes:

Leadership learned through doing—taking the initiative and accepting the risk of failure—is different. It combines a variety of experiences, good, bad and indifferent and adds a variety of organisms in the form of the varied humans that populate the organization. The effect of those organisms on the experiences of individual initiative produces a deeper, richer, more flexible form of leadership.

Miki compares leaders produced in colleges and MBA programs to crops produced with chemical fertilizers. Real life experiences, she says, are the compost in which the best leaders grow.

I believe that the “something new” that our world needs are leadership programs like the ones offered at Mountain State University. By bringing people together into cohort groups, we are giving people real life experiences where they can learn about themselves, learn how to work with people from different backgrounds and perspectives, and learn how to work within teams.

While MBA programs may offer some classes in leadership, our programs are all about leadership, focused on the skills people need to work with others effectively within organizations. I believe that they are healthy soil because they involve students in a learning conversation that integrates real life with classroom learning.

Dan’s answer surprised me. He said that no schools came to his mind for leader education. He associates a few schools with business education and MBAs, though. I am hoping that the next time I ask Dan that question — and the next time I ask you — you will remember Mountain State University.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Where is the best place to learn leadership? Is the MBA outdated? Do you agree with me that our world needs something new?

Read The Detail Sorters by Mountain State’s President Dr. Charles H. Polk for more about MBAs, leaders, and considering the impact each group has on an organization’s direction. Don’t forget to visit Great Leadership to read my guest post there. 

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.