As a final comment on Corporate Reputation Watch 2008, let's look at what MBAs think are the most important attributes of a CEO and how their educational experience has prepared them to fill that role. (Another survey question finds that about 51% of MBA students are "very interested" in becoming a CEO or CFO, with 33% saying they are "fairly interested" . . . I guess it's lucky that the length of CEO tenure is declining according to other studies.)

Among the most important attributes is strength in strategy, which comes out on top at 75%, followed by being a good leader who motivates employees (72%), but well ahead, for example, of "communicates well with stakeholders" (46%) and being "strong on financials" (26%). And once again at the bottom is "takes a stand on issues in society (at 20%). By the way, the emphasis on strategy confirms last year's study of financial analysts which found that they value a CEO's leadership around business strategy near the top of the list.

Chart20_2 But it does appear business schools may be missing an opportunity in preparing MBAs for their hoped-for future as CEOs.

Yes they're doing a great job in preparing MBAs to be strategic thinkers (highly valued) and financial managers (significantly less valued), but less well on being a good leader (only 22% say they are being "extremely well" prepared) and in preparing them to communicate with stakeholders (only 17% say "extremely well").

Since the pressure on CEOs to be the front-person for their companies -- and the guardians of corporate reputation -- it may be judicious for business schools to focus more resources on readying them to manage intangibles.

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MBAs Value Reputation - More Than We Think?