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Leadership: Hult’s Soft Skills Focus Is Making MBA Students Stand Out To Employers

MBA employers value ‘soft’ leadership skills now more than ever before

The business world is constantly changing. In an era of digital disruption, political and economic uncertainty, employers are looking for MBA grads with the leadership skills necessary to compete.

Hult International Business School interviewed 100 of the world’s leading CEOs to find out what they wanted from their job candidates. The answer was clear: soft skills, soft skills, soft skills!

“Today’s employers want people who are better at relational things,” says Roger Delves, dean of qualifications and head of people and leadership faculty at Hult.

“Of course, they want people who understand strategic thinking, operations, and finance. But that’s not enough. They want people who know how to work with and lead people. And we believe that you can’t lead others until you can understand yourself.”

Hult’s Global One-Year MBA incorporates the development of ‘soft’ leadership skills throughout the curriculum. Constant peer feedback encourages self-awareness and self-reflection.

The focus is on three core competencies - interpersonal influence, teamwork, and adaptive thinking – which are tracked throughout the year. Over 85% of Hult students show a significant improvement across all three core competencies by graduation.

In 2014, Hult won the Association of MBA’s (AMBA) Innovation Award for its pioneering approach.

“We’re trying to get away from the artificial world of the case study MBA, and into a world which better reflects the reality that the students will experience,” Roger explains.

“When we do exercises to explore functional skills, we constantly look at how students work together as a team, how they manage conflict when it arises, and how they maximize and leverage their diversity,” he continues.

“We’re asking students to reflect on, not just the outcome but, the process they go through.”

At Hult, hot topics like sustainability, responsible management, and dealing with digital disruption, are high on the MBA curriculum. Hult MBAs can rotate across international campuses in Boston, San Francisco, New York, London, Dubai, and Shanghai.

And, through the Hult Business Challenge, MBAs apply their knowledge to solve real-life problems faced by real-life firms.

The results are clear. In 2015, 88% of Hult MBAs found new jobs within three months of graduation, with an average salary increase of 130%. Top MBA employers include Google, Deloitte, and PwC.

“Leadership is as much about how other people feel about us as it is about what we do,” says Roger, who’s second book on leadership (Inspiring Leadership: Becoming a Dynamic and Engaging Leader) was published earlier this year. “Organizations consist of people. It’s how you inspire individuals that determines the quality of your leadership.

“It’s easy to follow people when it’s the equivalent of a sunny day; when you know where you’re going and you can see where you’ve been,” he continues.

“But if it’s cloudy and raining; if you can’t see where you’ve been or where you’re going; if the map’s disintegrated in the rain and somebody’s trodden on the compass; then, you’ve got to put your faith in a leader, not the circumstance. That’s the kind of leader we’ll need over the next 10 years.”

David Domene Luque joined Hult’s full-time MBA in 2013. He’s now an area manager at Amazon in the UK and returns to Hult to recruit new graduates. He’s seen first-hand how Hult MBAs stand out in the jobs market.

“Hult graduates are flexible, adaptable, and have a proven track record of delivering results in a global environment,” he says. “They are extremely competitive candidates.”

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