It is often tough,and time-consuming to teach fresh college graduates how to adjust to the real world.
Mariam (not her real name), a young graduate I know of who is working on a project, provides a great example.
She is motivated and obviously determined to be a leader one day. But she has some bad habits that have been hard to break.
Mariam would become so focused on taking credit for all the work on the project and to be the project manager's number one, she would not care about who she was hurting on her way up. She would credit other team members' ideas as her own, in front of the project leader, and would rarely engage with others.
Mariam saw the world in terms of "hierarchy". She cared only about the project leader's opinion and the rest of the team did not matter.
Mariam is doing the exact opposite of what effective leaders should. Leaders engage in teamwork, seek their team members' opinions, interact with everyone in the project regardless of levels and do not take the credit for other people's work.
Mariam's flaws are undeniable and have put her in awkward situations with her team members and project leader.
These traits are ones I have witnessed or heard about from colleagues and friends in other instances, which illustrates how ill-prepared fresh graduates are to handle true leadership in a workplace.
There is a constant debate about whether leadership can be taught and whether schools and colleges, in particular, are teaching it. I believe our entire education system, from kindergarten to graduate school, is ill-equipped to nurture leaders. Schools do many things well but they often plant habits that can obstruct the development of future leaders. We spend an average 18 years of our lives in educational institutions and the practices we pick up are hard to break.
Consider how schools have emphasised the idea of authority and hierarchy in our young minds. The teacher is the figure of authority in the classroom. The principal or the college dean presides over the teacher. Seniors in high school receive more benefits than elementary school students. This has implanted the concept that if we are in high hierarchical positions, such as formal leaders of a club, student body or the administration, then we "rule" and if we are not then we should do as we are told.
In reality, however, even board members and chief executives of organisations cannot rely solely on hierarchy to make important decisions. And that is why they surround themselves with consultants, talents and experienced professionals to help them run their organisations.
Leadership is a way of interacting with people - an activity, and not a formal position. Many great leaders such as Gandhi led others, despite having little or no formal authority.
Although hierarchy might be needed to lead a corporate organisation, one should not solely depend on it to achieve results but one should involve fellow team members.
Schools have also taught us that information and knowledge are certain when, in the real world, situations evolve and develop. When graduates join the workforce they are shocked it is nothing like what they have learnt from textbooks. The solutions to real-world problems do not lie within three multiple-choice answers. They are complex and unpredictable - and sometimes "failing", unlike in school, is an essential element to succeed and develop ourselves or our product.
Last but not least, while our teachers taught us to serve our elders, be nice to other children and contribute to our communities, we were not made aware that by doing so we were preparing ourselves to become leaders, for great leaders are ones who serve others.
In a world that is continually developing and in which new questions pop up before we find the answers to the previous ones, we need capable young leaders.
Education systems should be restructured to train future leaders throughout the 18 years they can spend within them.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati fashion designer and writer. You can follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai