Innovation and Wisdom in Leadership: Henry Mintzberg

13 February 2024

The Leadership Workshop at Bologna Business School on Friday, February 9th, featuring Professor Henry Mintzberg, served as a moment to reflect and merge academic thought with practical wisdom.

In a time when Management theories meet and collide in the field of a constantly evolving business world, embedded in a series of meetings aimed at enriching the understanding of leadership dynamics, this event offered participants valuable access to the thoughts and teachings of one of the most influential Management authors of our time.

Professor Mintzberg, whose work has shaped modern managerial training, shared his invaluable perspectives on the nature of management, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. His approach, marked by a deep appreciation for the nuanced interplay between structured organization and human-centred leadership, resonated with a diverse audience of students, academics, and professionals from all over Italy.

Dean Max Bergami’s opening remarks set the tone, highlighting the significant impact of Mintzberg’s theories on his academic and professional journey. Mintzberg’s theories on organizational structure and design, especially the five parts of an organization and their coordination mechanisms, have enriched academic discourse and provided tangible frameworks for practitioners to enhance their organizational leadership skills.

The workshop’s interactive format facilitated a dynamic exchange of ideas, with Mintzberg addressing various topics, from the evolution of the manager’s role in business education to the critical importance of intuition and judgment in decision-making. His critique of the excessive emphasis on metrics and his reaffirmation of the crucial role of serendipity in strategic planning offered new perspectives on the managerial challenges every manager faces.

A particularly engaging moment of the evening was Mintzberg’s open discussion on what distinguishes a manager from a leader. Emphasizing the interconnectedness of these roles, the professor proposed a more integrated view that recognizes management as an essential dimension of effective leadership. His anecdotal reflections then underscored the importance of being grounded in the operational realities of organizations to truly understand and address their challenges.

The conversation then shifted towards the broader implications of Mintzberg’s work on organizational culture and social impact. His concept of “rebalancing society” through responsible management practices sparked a lively debate on the role of businesses in addressing global challenges, highlighting the need for a shift towards more sustainable and community-oriented business models.

The Leadership Workshop at BBS with Henry Mintzberg was not just an academic event but an invitation to deeply reflect on the role of management in building a more balanced and sustainable future. The insights shared by Mintzberg will continue to inspire a new generation of leaders and managers, highlighting the importance of a leadership approach that accounts for both organizational and human aspects.


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