Books and films useful to train strategy and leadership

Novels, treaties on political theory, history books, comics or films, all find their way into business schools. Lecturers use these texts to show examples of leadership, business strategy, teamwork and cultural diversity. Fiction often provides stories including individuals that are useful to help understand situations and people that students will encounter in the world of work, or who reliably explain decisions that caused a crises, or ways of overcoming them.

Susana Domingo, strategy lecturer at UPF Barcelona School of Management explains in the report published by El País, that books and literature are extremely useful for students, “even though these days most people prefer just to click and see part of a film.” “The impact of a subject they will be working on in class is much greater if they have previously seen a film on it, or if they have read fragments of a book”, she says.

She recommends books such as “The Algebra of Infinite Justice” by Arundhati Roy, a political account of today’s world, and “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Franki, that narrates the story of a concentration camp experienced from inside. “Stories of personal achievement, whether about a difficult situation, an illness or an addiction, can be useful to them, for example, it can strengthen entrepreneurs. With these stories we can explain management skills, strategy, human resources management and negotiation”, she continues.

Documentaries can contribute a lot to learning. “Inside Job is about the 2008 financial crisis and is based on interviews in which people explain why they made the decisions they did”, adds Domingo. This one, directed by Charles Ferguson, received the Oscar for best documentary in 2011. “Another good film is Margin Call. It is the story of eight bank workers from an investment bank in the hours leading up to the crisis. You can see how the leader, the business owner, finds himself in a dilemma of whether to tell the truth, or cover it up.”

Domingo also uses YouTube, for example, a 12 minute video in which Jack Welch, director of General Electric, explains the keys of leadership.

The variety of content that can be found on the Web is very wide. The American NGO that diffuses innovative ideas, TED videos (technology, entertainment and design), can be viewed on Internet. Here ideas are put forward, from former President Bill Clinton to successful entrepreneurs such as the founders of Google.

Extract from El País: “Steinbeck te enseña a ser jefe” (Steinbeck teaches you how to become a boss)

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