Are leaders born or are they developed? It’s a talking point that hasn’t faded in popularity. While some may be born with certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership, at AIB, we believe that leadership qualities can also be developed and refined. Many of the world’s most successful leaders are a testament to that.
In an executive level or c-suite role, strong leadership skills are both required and expected. For this reason, many businesspeople and technical specialists turn to programmes such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) to develop leadership skills and prepare themselves for future roles. We discuss this common MBA motivation below, with reference to how the MBA experience helped AIB graduates build and refine their leadership abilities.
Being the best leader you can be
AIB MBA graduate Leanne Smith’s primary motivation when pursuing the MBA was to refine her leadership skill set. Her motivation extended beyond her personal goals, with the MBA providing the opportunity for Leanne to be the best leader she could be for her team. She explained, “I feel that as a leader, you really owe it to the people that you’re leading to continue to stretch yourself.”
Leanne is a National Manager at the Department of Human Services, and for many leaders like herself, the MBA experience is a chance to re-tune the engine to better serve those they lead. By doing so, she’s not only bettering herself but leading by example when prioritising professional development. It’s certainly an admirable motivation and one that shows exactly why the candidate is in a leadership role to begin with – they’re passionate, self-aware and strive for the best.
Improving your communication skills
As a leader, it goes without saying that effective communication and the ability to connect with all personality types is a must. It’s your job to get the most out of your people while making them feel supported and valued, therefore, good communication skills are essential. Many students approach the MBA with a desire to enhance these skills, including AIB graduate Andrew Crotty, who shared that the MBA journey helped him to understand the role perception plays in effective communication. “The leadership theory and MBA as a whole opened my eyes to how people perceive me, how I can perceive others, and the implications of that,” he said. This self-awareness that Andrew developed from the MBA experience now allows him to tailor his communication approach based on his heightened perception, in turn, making him a better, more perceptive leader.
As the MBA exposes students to a range of business theories, it also broadens their business vocabulary and confidence in written and verbal communications. For AIB MBA graduate Anthony Swinsburg, this was an outcome that was in his sights before he started the MBA. “The MBA rounded out my understanding in the business world, and gave me the appropriate vernacular to be able to communicate at the higher echelons in the business environment,” he explained. The MBA will expand your knowledge, diversifying your business vocabulary as a result. Demonstrating that when communicating with superiors, stakeholders and clients can help to gain greater recognition as a leader.
Developing a strategic outlook
Strategic thinking is a skill that is honed throughout the MBA, drawing many current and aspiring leaders to the programme for this reason. Every subject of the MBA encourages strategic thinking through the application of theory in assessments, as well as teaching students the importance of creating business plans, planning long-term and applying problem solving skills.
AIB MBA graduate Greg Goopy explained that his strategic outlook evolved in conjunction with his leadership qualities during the MBA. “My outlook on business became far more sophisticated and I started to understand a greater context of the markets that we operated in and the strategies of our competitors. As a result, I am able to lead the larger network of people within our function to get greater performance out of them.”
Learning and applying practical leadership theories
While leadership is certainly developed through time and experience, there are some very applicable theories that also serve to grow skills. During the MBA, students learn these theories through a dedicated leadership subject and are able to apply them to real-world business situations on a regular basis.
AIB MBA graduate Chris Cowley was able to do just that in his role as Managing Director Australasia at Varian Medical Systems. He explained, “The application of leadership theory from the MBA has had a particular impact in the management team I lead, with changes to how we interact with each other and how we lead the business, rather than manage it. It’s been a fundamental shift in our thinking.”
Be the best leader you can be. Find out more about The Agile MBA today.
AIB graduate Anthony Swinsburg shares his MBA story below. To watch more, head to the AIB YouTube Channel.