Leadership studies too theoretical, says ex-CEO

By Khing Chadwick

Rob Fyfe travelled to South America. Photo / Supplied
Rob Fyfe travelled to South America. Photo / Supplied

Former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe says university business students don't understand leadership in the real world.

Fyfe, who left Air NZ four months ago and has recently returned from a holiday in Peru, said business students had interviewed him numerous times and the written reports from the interviews were revealing.

"I'd find out that they'd miss the essence of what my leadership was about. They would evaluate my leadership and say how Rob would fit someone or other's view or whatever and they were trying to force fit everything I did into these various frameworks, models, methodologies, and so on."

Fyfe said universities should take a more authentic approach to leadership study.

"It's too easy for us to slip into these stereotypical mindsets of what an executive or CEO should be rather than actually trust in who you are and be genuine and authentic as a person."

Fyfe said a trip to Machu Picchu at the beginning of this year has allowed him to reflect on his leadership and personal journey.

"The decisions made in the history of Machu Picchu fundamentally changed the course of that civilisation and this is how my life has been," he said.

Universities declined to comment when asked about Fyfe's comments this week. However, Lester Levy, the head of the Leadership Institute, a scheme initiated by the University of Auckland Business School, said he understood what Fyfe was saying.

Fyfe began working in a plastics factory as a 14-year-old.

"I learned to respect people from all sorts of cultures."

- Herald on Sunday

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