Companies looking to hire say that, more than anything else, they want employees with leadership skills. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that more than 80 percent of employers report looking for “leadership” in applicants’ resumes.
However, becoming a leader rarely just happens on its own. Fortunately, though, studies also show that anyone can learn to lead. (One study determined that leaders only inherit about 25 percent of their leadership traits; they learn the other 75 percent.)
Learning Leadership in an Online MBA Program
So how and where does someone learn leadership? One option is to enroll in an online MBA program that focuses on becoming a leader, like the one available in the University of Southern Indiana’s Romain College of Business. Because the idea of taking time away from work is daunting, professionals often enroll in online MBA programs that allow them to continue working while they pursue their degrees.
What Are the Skills of a Good Leader?
While there is no clear consensus on all the skills involved in being a good leader, there are some skills common to just about every leader. Many consider communication, particularly the ability to effectively convey an organization’s mission, as one of the most important skills. MBA students often strengthen their communication skills over the course of their degree programs, including electronic communication. The modes of communication essential to online learning are becoming increasingly important in the business world. Social networking, for example, is becoming a key resource for finding potential hires.
Strong ethics is another trait many cite as a key component of good leadership, and students in online MBA programs can expect to bolster their understanding of business ethics through case studies and other assignments.
In USI’s online MBA program, the first course students must take is “Leadership Skills and Organizational Behavior.” This interactive class helps students develop the skills of strong leaders, improve communication and team building skills, and encourage creative problem-solving. Students often get a chance to sharpen these skills by practicing leadership in their courses. For example, they must often take lead roles in interactive projects, and they learn through experience how to improve their electronic communication skills.
Meeting and Learning from Others
MBA programs also expand students’ professional networks to include their classmates and their professors — many students also meet professionals who may look to them later as future leaders. These contacts may present other opportunities to learn leadership, in that students can observe business conduct and leadership skills in action.
Simply enrolling in a new degree program can also improve leadership skills. Taking on new assignments, engaging in new modes of thinking and answering new sets of questions all sharpen online MBA students’ critical thinking skills, which are central to leadership.
Leadership skills continue to top the list of skills employers look for in new hires. According to the NACE study, leadership experience outranked even teamwork and communication as the primary attribute employers seek in applicants. The survey goes on to report that the average employer said skill in leadership had a strong influence in their hiring decisions.
Learn more about the USI online MBA program.