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Become a Leader With an Online MBA

Leadership skills are essential to advancement in business, whether you choose to work for a major corporation or for a small startup. A business school education can help you develop the knowledge and skills you need for management responsibilities and business functions.

According to U.S. News & World Report, "If you were to ask a roomful of b-school students why they decided to pursue an MBA, the majority would mention leadership in their answer. Whether their goal is becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or inspiring talented people to join their startup, they know that strong leadership skills will be essential to fulfilling their dream."

Fortune reports that eight key leadership skills are directly correlated to company performance:

  1. Financial acumen.
  2. Business savvy.
  3. Compelling communications.
  4. Driving execution.
  5. Driving for results.
  6. Inspiring excellence.
  7. Influence. 
  8. Inspiring excellence.

Do you have the ability to develop these leadership skills? The following five innate skills are excellent predictors of your ability to hone the eight leadership skills above:

  1. Ambition and work ethic.
  2. Ability to unite people in the pursuit of common goals.
  3. Critical thinking, including analysis, framing and devising solutions.
  4. Communication skills, including the spoken and written word.
  5. Mental strength to handle heavy workloads and pressure.

Companies recruit for these eight specific leadership skills because of their demonstrated correlation to positive business outcomes. For this reason, many top business schools work closely with major employers to develop MBA curricula that cultivate these skills.

Business School Graduates Comprise a Majority of Corporate Leadership Positions

The Graduate Management Admissions Council reports in its 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report that 86 percent of business school alumni agree that their education prepared them for leadership positions. Among the nearly 15,000 global respondents, 82 percent said their graduate management education increased their earnings power, and 75 percent said it provided opportunities for quicker advancement.

Among respondents who graduated between 2012 and 2016, 51 percent hold mid-level positions within their organizations, 16 percent hold senior-level positions and 6 percent hold executive- or C-suite-level positions. In short, the highest ranks of corporate leadership are occupied predominantly by business school graduates.

Online MBA Graduates Believe In the Value of their Education

Earnings potential is a prime motivator for online MBA students. If you are concerned that the affordable cost of an online program will hinder your income potential, consider that professionals who completed their MBA online are now earning an average of $104,352 in mid-level positions and $163,839 in senior-level positions.

Given the success these MBA graduates have experienced, it comes as no surprise that 76 percent rated the value of their MBA education as excellent or outstanding. In addition, 94 percent said their experience was personally rewarding, 89 percent said it was professionally rewarding, and 67 percent said it was financially rewarding.

Assess Where You Are Now, and Where You Would Like to Go

To prepare for a future in leadership, plot your career trajectory from where you are now to where you want to go. Take the first step by writing down the values that matter most to you in your career. Do you care about driving shareholder value, improving the talent experience or helping to elevate more women into leadership?

Next, consider the qualities in leaders you currently admire. Are they visionaries, number crunchers or motivators? Rate your current abilities on a 1-5 scale in terms of the qualities you admire most.

Finally, write down your ambitions. Where would you like to be in 5, 15 and 25 years? Are you interested in staying in your industry or business function, or would you like a career change? Identify the positions you would like to be promoted to at the middle management, senior, executive or even C-suite levels, and when you would like to reach these milestones.

Understanding your ambitions and researching roles, business functions and industries is essential at this stage of career planning. Once you have defined your values, leadership abilities and goals, you are ready to take action.

Apply to an Online MBA that Matches Your Aspirations

Top online MBA programs develop leaders through career guidance and skill assessments, which supplement coursework in both business functions and management principles. Read through the course curricula of programs you are considering and decide whether or not they match your values and aspirations. Talk to graduates of the programs you are considering and to leaders in your chosen field.

Make an informed decision today, and in a few years, you will likely find yourself reflecting on the difference it made in your career. If your experience is similar to that of most alumni, you would do it all over again, knowing the outcomes you achieved and the leader you became.

Learn more about the University of South Carolina Aiken's online MBA programs.


Sources:

U.S. News & World Report: M.B.A.s and Leadership

Forbes: Why MBA Programs Don't Produce Leaders

Fortune: How MBA Programs Make Great Leaders -- and Where They Fail

GMAC: 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report

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