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Babson Entrepreneurship Students “In Treatment”

Today’s college students are admired for their generational ability to multi-task in numerous Web 2.0 technologies.  But how proficient are they in improving the soft skills— personality traits, social graces, communication, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism—to make sound business decisions at work and at home?

Babson College Professor Elizabeth Thornton’s new Entrepreneurship elective—Entrepreneurial Leadership and The Principle of Objectivity—is kind of like inviting Freud to the B-school classroom… because self-awareness is the foundation for strengthening these soft skills.

Thornton believes that developing leadership and soft skills is really about cultivating a state of being.  “If we are truly objective in how we think about ourselves and the world, then as leaders, we are better able to see clearly, make sound judgments, lead others, and execute decisions successfully,” says Thornton. The challenge is that most of us cannot be objective about how we relate to ourselves, situations, or the other people in our lives.  It is simply the nature of the mind.

This is what we do:

* We experience through our senses a fact—about an object, a person, an action, or a situation.

* In an instant, we project our own fears, mental models, and background onto that fact.

The result:

* We see something other than what it is, a misperception, or;

* One object or situation is mistaken for another or;

* The value of an object or circumstance is exaggerated, seen as more than it is.

* A person is judged unfairly, based on some aspect of the way they look

With all that going on, how can we see things clearly, make sound judgments, and be effective leaders? Thornton’s course provides a framework to help students react appropriately to changing dynamics, making sound decisions, and improving their relationships.

The course requirement for students?—to be honest about self-deception, and how they really see the world around themselves. They will explore the concepts of objectivity and mindfulness to develop practical approaches for: crises management, dealing with anger, conflict resolution, leadership and self image, and management in the workplace. And students are responding!

From one MBA student:

“For me, the most significant aspect of Professor Thornton’s course on The Principle of Objectivity is the perspective that I gained as a result of the class. Learning about how we see, interpret, think about and interact with the world and our concepts of ourselves is beneficial in many ways. In addition to providing a technique which helps support more logical, objective, and effective decision making, this perspective on Objectivity is a valuable tool in personal and professional development.  The new perspective on how and why we think and act the way we do allows one to examine their thoughts and actions, and provides a methodology through which our ways of thinking and the resulting actions can be improved.”

See Prof. Thornton in Action