Organizations have been able to increase productivity and efficiency through incorporating more digital tools and systems in their work environments.
Technological changes have also led to an increase in the number of companies shifting from in-person work to hybrid work models, especially in the post-Covid era.
In the US alone, 74% of companies are using or are planning to shift to a permanent hybrid work model.
Still, 75% of employers struggle to find employees with the right blend of technical and soft skills that are needed to succeed in the modern business world.
Studying at business school can set you up with the skills and expertise needed to succeed in your management career. It can help you overcome the challenges posed by a modern business environment and enhance your employability within a range of sectors.
Here are five in-demand skills that you could develop at business school —and that are critical if you wish to boost your business career
Capability for effective leadership
Good leadership is fundamental to a successful business, that’s why 83% of businesses agree that leadership development is critical at all levels.
Strong leadership will help you better understand and manage those within your team to achieve your company goals.
If you are looking to grow your leadership capabilities, then you’ll benefit from experiential learning opportunities that allow you to exercise leadership skills when tackling real business problems.
Management programs, such as the MBA available at the International Institute of Management Development (IMD), strive to maximize students’ leadership capabilities. Almost half of the program is experiential in nature, meaning that if you join the MBA, you’ll have opportunities to put your leadership skills into action.
During your time at IMD, you can also spend an experiential weekend trip in the Swiss Alps, where you will work alongside your peers to solve business challenges.
You’ll also learn how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset during the MBA leadership stream, which involves experiential exercises, one-on-one coaching, and activities focusing on expanding your leadership ability.
“Leadership skills are at the core of any successful business career. This entails not only the ability to make difficult decisions, but also to motivate and mobilize others to follow through with them,” says Omar Toulan, professor of strategy and international management, and dean of the MBA at IMD.
Cultural awareness and understanding
Cultural awareness relates to your ability to both recognize and appreciate cultural differences.
This is a highly desirable trait, as it allows you to build successful relationships with different people in diverse environments.
The ability to appreciate and respect foreign cultures is a critical skill sought by employers, as it both improves communication among global teams and helps with international business negotiations.
At IMD, students benefit from learning in a diverse cohort which includes 40 different nationalities. Students work together in teams during their MBA on a range of projects such as the Startup Project, and International Consulting Project whereby students continually work together to find solutions to real business issues. “During my MBA I was always being culturally challenged,” says Maureen Pellicer, who was based in Mexico before moving to Switzerland for her MBA at IMD.
“Allowing yourself to be challenged culturally prepares you for a leadership role and teaches you how to work with different people,” she says.
A sense of empathy
In an age where the business environment is dominated by technology and digital tools, empathy is critical for business leaders to achieve success.
Empathy and the ability to connect with others is a significant skill that will help you to excel in your business career. Being able to identify with others’ needs will help you to identify the demands of your market, which can help you generate innovative and useful ideas —in turn generating business growth.
An empathetic approach helps you to connect better with others in your work environment and improve your leadership capabilities.
“Empathy is often overlooked, but it will help you work with others and to lead people better,” says Maureen, who has recently begun a new role as a senior consultant at Bayer after graduating from IMD.
Self-awareness is key
An awareness of yourself both personally and professionally is a highly valuable skill if you are looking to advance professionally.
Knowing yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and limitations is imperative for excelling in your business career. Self-awareness means that you know your own personal leadership style, and where you can improve.
At IMD, students can access individual sessions with a psychoanalyst to develop their self-awareness, as well as a leadership coach who can help them to better understanding their personal leadership styles.
As today's business environment continues to evolve, machine learning and artificial intelligence are being increasingly employed to solve business challenges. However, following algorithms blindly is not advised. Employers need individuals who can use AI to inform their decisions but who can also generate creative ideas outside of the scope of AI capabilities.
“We focus on the skills that all managers will need in the future. From understanding impact investing, to sustainable sourcing and marketing,” says Professor Toulan.
This skillset allows you to come up with creative solutions and strategies to modern business problems and help you reach your professional goals.
Embarking on an MBA could equip you with the skills necessary to boost your career. At business school, you’ll be encouraged to apply innovative thinking to your work and business strategy.
A combination of these skills could help you to thrive in a business environment and help propel your career to new heights.