An interesting thing happened during what we now call “The Great Recession.” A number of businesses cut back on the programs that paid for employees to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree while still working for their companies.
However, business schools around the country report that overall their enrollment didn’t drop. Even though their employers weren’t paying the bills, business professionals still understood the importance of an MBA. And one of the major reasons behind this is the leadership development these programs offer.
Leadership increasingly important
Top business leaders always mention leadership when they discuss which skills are most needed today. This hasn’t always been the case. Not long ago, people in the upper levels of management were more valued for technical skills, such as accounting. But that is no longer the case. In many business settings, leadership development is far more important than any individual technical skill.
The 2012 Ashridge Business School report produced for the United Nations, “Leadership in a Rapidly Changing World: How business leaders are reframing success,” says that “it is essential for senior executives to have a nuanced understanding of the major societal forces shaping our world, and to know where and how to respond through the way they go about their core business.”
Because of this, the report concludes, “A sizeable cohort of business leaders now evidently believes that playing a leadership role in understanding and addressing the major forces shaping society – far from being a source of cost – is now central to how they create value.”
Further, what it really means to be a leader in business today is changing. One of the most important aspects of leadership now is to be able to develop existing employees so they can grow professionally, handle more responsibility and meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global marketplace.
“Leaders need to attentively develop, engage and motivate people. They must be mindful about embedding day-to-day coaching and mentoring into the culture,” according to the Price Waterhouse Coopers report, “How leadership must change to meet the future.”
These leadership development skills are necessary whether a professional decides to pursue a career with a Fortune 500 company or chooses to work in the world of start-ups.
The role of an online MBA program
As mentioned previously, even when employers pulled back their support for MBA programs a few years ago, overall enrollment did not drop. Professionals understand that continuing to develop their leadership skills is vital to their advancement. Today, many are finding that an online MBA program gives them an excellent education along with the flexibility they require. And when looking at the available online programs, prospective students would be smart to ensure that leadership development is included.