I have mixed views on this article. On the one hand, I think it is a sign of definite progress that women are starting to feel more comfortable and able to be more expressive of who they are in the workplace. The fact that women in today’s workforce do not feel that they have to hide who they are in an effort to fit in and be accepted, much less advance, shows progress. As the article points out, this may be indicative of the fact that there are now more women in the workplace than there were in previous generations, which is also a good thing. While there is still significant progress that needs to be made in ensuring that women have equal opportunities and pay and are not held to different or higher standards than their male counterparts, it is nonetheless heartening to see that some progress is being made.

On the other hand, to the extent that this article indicates that more women are becoming flirtatious with male counterparts, clients, and potential employers, I think that can be problematic from a sexual harassment standpoint. The article’s discussion of this issue focuses on men not knowing how to react to these types of flirtations and responding inappropriately, but what about harassment claims lodged by coworkers who may feel that they got passed over for some opportunity in favor of a female coworker who flirted with the boss? While this would likely result in a harassment claim directed at the boss, it would nonetheless be damaging to the woman’s career as well. And what about a situation where a male coworker views the flirtation as an unwelcome advance and makes a sexual harassment complaint against the woman? It seems like there are a number of pitfalls that could result from this kind of behavior beyond that discussed in the article.

Finally, I found it unfortunate that a couple of the men interviewed for this article expressed the view that men are somehow more vulnerable because of women flirting in the workplace or are hardwired to respond in certain ways to workplace flirtations. This implies that these folks view themselves as unable to control their impulses—that they cannot help what they say or do. To me, this is simply an effort to redirect responsibility for any inappropriate comments they may make or actions they may take away from themselves and towards their female coworkers. Part of being able to function in the workplace is learning what is and is not appropriate. If you think something might not be appropriate to say or do—do not do it. It is that simple.

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This article was an interesting bookend to the Wall Street Journal articles discussing what employers want from MBA students. Based on the positive results MCB has achieved for its students and the good reviews its students and the program receive from employers, it appears that MCB has done a great job of meeting the needs of both students and employers. I really like the approach of getting direct input from the local business community to facilitate improvement in the school’s curriculum. If you want to make sure your program is producing graduates who can meet employers’ needs, it makes a lot of sense to get input from employers regarding the curriculum. I also liked the idea of involving students in improving MCB’s programs. Increasing student involvement in this process encourages students to take a more active role in their education and helps build strong connections between students and the school that will likely remain long after the students have graduated.  Thinking back to the Wall Street Journal Articles regarding MBA students, it would be interesting to see if similarly positive results could be obtained by implementing some of the ideas discussed in this article at schools that offer MBA programs.

I found this article somewhat disconcerting in that it highlights a number of problems employers see in the MBA candidates that they are interviewing. It appears that a number of recruiters and employers are not happy with the candidates they are seeing, which means that, as the economy worsens, those of us who graduate in the coming years will need to work even harder to show them that we have the skills they are looking for. And, thinking about some of the concerns expressed by recruiters and employers in this article—specifically those related to ethics and an ability to get along with other employees—I wonder if these things can really be taught to students in an academic setting. Would an increased focus on ethics have caused Bernie Madoff or the ENRON culprits to act differently? Or would they have done the same things regardless? Similarly, while schools can emphasize the importance of being respectful and courteous to others, especially those working underneath them, this seems like something that a student is unlikely to learn if they have not already picked up these necessary interpersonal skills by the time they reach this point.

For me, this article highlights something important—the fact that business schools are responding to the concerns expressed by employers and seeking to adapt their curriculum to make sure that their students have the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to get the jobs they want and succeed in the work place. While the job market for the type of jobs most MBA students seek is always competitive, in this economy, its imperative that students have all of the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.  That means MBA students must understand the fundamental aspects of business and management taught in traditional business school classes while also developing the leadership and communication skills required to succeed in today’s work force. To get in the door and succeed once you get there, you have to have the communication and leadership skills to show clients and co-workers how you are applying the knowledge you have obtained and how your actions benefit them and to address any concerns they may have in an appropriate and effective manner. By adapting their curriculums to meet these demands, business schools are working to ensure that their students have the opportunity to build effective communication and leadership skills. It is then up to the students to make sure that they make the most of the classes and other opportunities provided and acquire the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive work environment.

This article points out a significant problem faced by virtually any business or other entity—that, when problems arise, individuals often lack the ability to effectively analyze what went wrong because they focus on external causes rather than looking internally to see how they personally contributed to the problem.  This is something that I would estimate we have all seen happen in a variety of settings, both in and out of the workplace, and something many of us have probably done ourselves. No one likes to think that they contributed to a problem, much less that they are the problem, and that tends to lead people to look to external sources when trying to get to the root of where things went wrong.

I think the author has found a good solution to this problem, but I wonder if it can work in all work environments. The author recognizes one potential obstacle to success in noting that this approach is unlikely to succeed unless upper level management takes the lead in implementing these changes.  But you also have to have employees who are willing and able to look into themselves and see how they contributed to the problem at hand. It is all well and good for managers to do this, but if you do not have employees who are willing to engage in this level of evaluation of themselves then the process is not going to succeed.  Certainly one solution to this is to let those employees who are unwilling to engage in this process—and thus unable to learn—go while keeping those who are sufficiently self reflective, but what do you do when the resistant employees constitute a majority or even all of your workforce?

The author’s focus on the fact that many of these people have experienced little to no failure during their formative education makes me think we need to encourage this level of self reflection early on.  Perhaps education should, from the beginning, focus not only on teaching people how to get the right answer, but also on why they did or did not succeed. And, regardless of the outcome, students should be encouraged to think about and discuss what went wrong, what worked out, and what can be improved with a focus on what they themselves did rather than looking to external circumstances. If this level of self reflection is ingrained from an early age as a necessary tool for success, I think the author’s suggested solution will be more likely to succeed, and may even occur naturally, since that way of thinking will become the default rather than the exception.