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5 Ways To Boost Your Leadership Skills During An MBA

HEC Paris grad tells you how to become a leader outside the classroom

By  Jean Salim

Wed Oct 5 2016

From yoga classes to cultural trips, together with intense academic demand, full-time MBA courses offer a range of extra-curricular activities that will enhance your abilities as future business leaders.

At HEC Paris, the MBA Tournament (MBAT) sports competition brings over 1,500 international students to the school’s campus each year. By volunteering for such a big event, you can push your soft skills; leadership and delegation.

Your MBA journey should be strategically planned. Full-time MBA courses are demanding and you'll feel like you never have time to spare. You may end up losing sight of the bigger picture. Always remind yourself: your target is to become a better business leader than before.

Here’s five ways to sharpen your leadership skills outside of class:

1. Become president of an MBA Club

From my own experience, this is a very good way to develop your entrepreneurial abilities outside class. Not only will you network like crazy, but you'll also feel the need to contribute to your MBA community of graduates. You can pick a position of director, VP, whatever. Still, I'd recommend you become the accountable one on the club. You'll feel a greater sense of ownership and you'll learn how to drive your own little business. Take the driver seat. The risk is low and the benefit is high.

2. Teach your colleagues

In my class, some people were struggling with corporate finance. One of my colleagues grasped that opportunity and created a set of structured sessions for our class experts to pass on their knowledge. This reinforced the beautiful sense of collaboration in our group and gave the speakers an opportunity to develop themselves. Pure leadership, from the organizer to the participants. Everyone grew with this.

3. Do something “crazy!”

Becoming a better business leader means knowing when to take some calculated risks to expand your horizons. Knowing that time is a constraint during your MBA, why don't you try a once-a-month visit to a charity organization. You’ll interact with local people of different cultures. And you’ll become a more sensitive person.

4. Help out at your school

Liaise with your local student council, academic staff, and everyone behind the scenes of your MBA. It can be a good lesson of gratitude to those who work hard to make your experience great. In the future, you'll see the importance of knowing and valuing all the stakeholders involved in your journey, even the less visible ones. The assistant to the CEO may not make front page of Forbes, but knows a lot about the CEO who does.

5. Be positive and think big

Remember, you are privileged to have access to a high-level education without having to work at the same time. Make sure you expand as human being. Overcome your old prejudices and break new grounds. Acknowledge the fact that, as much as you are working hard to bridge your own gaps, other people are also doing so. We are all in the same boat. Help your colleague inside and outside class. Be passionate. Be generous.

There are tens of thousands of MBA graduates each year. It’s a big market. Your challenge is to make the most out of your entire MBA experience, inside and outside class. Books and information are available to many people. Leadership skills are not. So roll up your sleeves and start working on becoming a better leader.