While technical expertise develops directly from reading and coursework, soft skills develop over time through practice and repetition. Rather than rules and formulas, soft skills incorporate communication, interpersonal interactions, and problem-solving abilities.
Though fundamental and practical for career advancement, hard skills are not the sole focus of comprehensive Master of Business Administration programs. Employers see value in soft skills, with LinkedIn’s workplace research revealing that 57 percent of senior leaders believe they’re more important than technical expertise. It’s clear that today’s business professionals must have the soft skills to enhance the desirability of their expertise.
Here’s an overview of these integral MBA skills, plus a look at how Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business can not only enhance these professional skills but also prepare MBA graduates to apply them in the business environment.
1. Strong work ethic
While education and experience drive career advancement, employers want to hire candidates who have the motivation to complete the work. In fact, nearly 71 percent of employers seek a strong work ethic when hiring employees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2019 Survey.
With fast-paced environments and challenging coursework, MBA programs require students to dedicate their time to learning and effectively manage their workload to succeed. Additionally, Online MBA students who pursue their degrees while still maintaining full-time positions must quickly master how to manage priorities without sacrificing the quality of complete class assignments and office projects. As such, the MBA experience can instill a work ethic and adaptability that students can apply in virtually any business situation.
2. Strategic problem-solving
When problems arise in the business world, leaders must provide solutions and clear directives for how to address the issues. With company success often at stake, the ability to work through complex problems serves business professionals well in any situation. Along with the knowledge to handle such issues, business leaders must practice quick, strategic thinking to implement effective problem-solving.
Designed to challenge students to become better business leaders, Northeastern’s Online MBA program creates opportunities for students to hone their analytical thinking skills, use data to make informed decisions, weigh options and risks, and, ultimately, approach business problems with greater confidence.
3. Innovative thinking
According to LinkedIn, creativity is the most in-demand soft skill in 2019. Such innovative thinking is critical for companies looking to implement solutions and maintain forward momentum. It’s also vital for entrepreneurial endeavors, making innovation courses popular business school offerings for MBA students interested in leading their own ventures. At the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, for instance, students can choose the Innovation Entrepreneurship concentration for focused learning.
4. Effectual leadership
Successful leaders do more than make management decisions. They also collaborate with their teams, deliver clear instructions, delegate with care, and support their employees with frequent feedback and encouragement. In fact, the NACE survey revealed that more employers (78.7 percent) actively seek candidates with the ability to work in a team than those with just leadership attributes (67.4 percent).
Northeastern graduates can apply their business school experiences to earn leadership roles. For instance, team projects and class discussions can enhance interpersonal skills, often providing students opportunities to work with various personalities and manage obstacles through collaboration. Additionally, the online nature of the program can strengthen digital communication skills and teach students how to manage remote teams, which are skills broadly applicable in today’s connected business environment.
Enhancing soft skills with Northeastern University’s Online MBA program
While business school courses provide MBA graduates with foundational knowledge and practical abilities, the lessons extend to the soft skills developed during the learning experience. Such MBA skills can give graduates leverage in job searches, promotional opportunities, and new business ventures.
Online MBA students have access to cutting-edge course content and advanced online learning tools, which create engaging academic experiences and collaborative opportunities. This experiential learning complements the course concepts and allows students to hone essential soft skills.
Professionals may struggle to display their soft skills during initial interactions with potential employers, but earning an MBA degree speaks to the candidate’s qualifications. Additionally, faculty and peer references from business school connections can convince potential employers of the candidate’s work ethic, problem-solving capabilities, innovative ideas, and leadership abilities, among other business skills.
Learn more about the Online MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.