Why Strategy and Leadership Are the Best MBA Skills to Have
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) teaches a wide array of business-related skills and knowledge, but two of the key takeaways are strategy and leadership tools. Business strategy and leadership go hand in hand; their respective concepts and methods are so intertwined that the success of either depends almost entirely on the other.1 Implementing and successfully executing strategies is one of the chief responsibilities of a good leader. Effective leaders also drive positive change. In fact, a Forbes survey found that 25 percent of one million respondents viewed leading change as one of the four most important abilities of any leader.2
In terms of driving change, the successful leader’s goal should be to ensure the best strategic choices are made at all levels of the business. Moreover, the leader needs to ensure that these decisions always reflect the organization’s overall strategy and agenda in terms of value creation.3
Fortunately, an MBA enables professionals to acquire both the strategic and leadership skills necessary to lead businesses through disruption. An MBA helps management professionals gain a comprehensive understanding of their business environment, and helps students chart a course toward optimal strategic leadership.
The MBA skills that matter
MBA courses cover every business aspect from an organization’s financial state to its marketing power. They help participants gain valuable hard and soft skills to apply to many key business areas. These skills include strategy (a hard skill) and leadership (a soft skill), and are essential for business leaders and those wishing to progress within their careers or plot a new career direction.
Why soft skills count
Recruiters and employers are increasingly shifting their focus to soft skills, as these have become crucial to success in a changing business world.4 From a list of top five important skills, research shows that 76 percent of employers prize the ability to work with a wide variety of people, which is an essential component of leadership. It also indicates that 72 percent value the ability to prioritize, which is fundamental to developing effective strategies.5 Both are considered soft skills. This shows that greater value is now being placed on essential leadership and strategy competencies, which can be learned and honed through an MBA.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” said leadership studies pioneer Warren Bennis.6 MBAs are often credited with training the “business leaders of the future” – empowering aspiring CEOs, entrepreneurs, and managers.7 Building leadership skills is at the core of any MBA program. Leadership is considered a soft skill that many possess, yet struggle to implement proactively and effectively.
Leadership and interpersonal skills are listed by MBA alumni as among the most critical for jobs after business school.8 Leadership skills enable managers to better leverage human potential in the workplace, and understand team personalities and company culture in order to motivate and engage employees.9
An effective business leader also drives their organization’s position in a competitive environment and consistently evaluates market trends.10 Therefore, at a certain point in the leadership journey, leading also becomes strategic.
How to harness strategy and leadership for business success
Strategy is closely aligned with leadership in that both skills can have a significant impact on a company’s success or failure. However, strategy can only be properly executed through effective leadership, as leaders are responsible for communicating the company strategy to all stakeholders.
Harvard Business School lists the following critical skills leaders should possess, all of which are taught during an MBA program:11
For others to follow your lead, you must be able to effectively communicate your organization’s goals and the strategic plans needed to achieve them.
2. The ability to bring out the best performance
You become a strong leader by learning how to empower others. Uplifting employees brings out their best performance and is linked to greater job satisfaction, lower staff turnover, and higher engagement levels.
Things don’t always go according to plan. Your ability to be flexible, resilient, and adaptable under pressure is crucial to success. This leadership trait will also help you execute your business plans.
4. Financial literacy
As a leader, you’ll devote much of your time to business strategy, which is tied inextricably to financial performance. For this reason, financial literacy is an essential skill for any aspiring executive.
Build your business skills today
Leadership and strategy are essential skills that you, as a business leader, will need throughout your career. Mastering this knowledge could make you an asset to any organization, large or small, as it effectively hones your hard and soft skills. Whether you’re moving up the ladder, making a change, or already at the top of your game, this capacity is crucial.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your professional development, why not start preparing for an MBA? The MBA Essentials online certificate course from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) will help you build a toolkit of valuable strategic, managerial, and leadership skills to enhance your organization’s competitive advantage.
Learn invaluable leadership skills with an online MBA short course
- 1 Mjaku, G. (Aug, 2020). ‘Strategic management and strategic leadership’. Retrieved from International Journal of Scientific and Research Publication.
- 2 Folkman, J. (Jan, 2020). ‘5 required skills for leading change’. Retrieved from Forbes.
- 3 De Smet, A. (May, 2019). ‘Three keys to faster, better decisions’. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company.
- 4 Lau, Y. (Jan, 2021). ‘Soft skills are essential to the future of work’. Retrieved from Forbes.
- 5 D’Souza, D. (Aug, 2020). ‘5 MBA skills employers look for in grads’. Retrieved from Investopedia.
- 6 Early, G. (Apr, 2020). ‘Elevating leadership: A model for leading from your best self’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
- 7 Friedman, J. (Jul, 2021). ‘The future of the MBA, according to senior and C-suite executives’. Retrieved from Fortune.
- 8 (Mar, 2020). ‘The soft skills that MBA programs help build’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
- 9 (Nd). ‘What are management skills?’. Retrieved from Corporate Finance Institute. Accessed October 13, 2021.
- 10 Soehari, T.D. and Budiningsih, I. (Apr, 2020). ‘Competitive advantage leadership in the ultra modern era’. Retrieved from IntechOpen.
- 11 Stobierski, T. (Sep, 2021). ‘6 leadership skills you need for business success’. Retrieved from Harvard Business School.