The EMBA helps professionals gain a better understanding of their talents and awareness of areas to focus on.
The Executive MBA (EMBA) is designed for mid-career professionals who want to fill a gap in their top management skills in order to become more rounded senior leaders and executives.
Here are five key skills that business leaders can improve on or gain with an Executive MBA programme.
Strategic thinking and execution
A company may have a perfect strategy, but until its management executes that strategy, the whole thing is just a story. That’s why executives need “strategic foresight”— the ability to think strategically, but also the ability to execute.
“Most companies believe that – after careful strategic review, analysis and planning – they have a winning strategy. However, our latest research shows that 70% of companies fail to get what they want out of their strategic plan and that the problems usually begin with execution. The result of this is both organisational failure and individual stress and frustration – especially for the executives charged with implementation,” according to INSEAD (France).
EMBA programmes address the need to bridge the (occasionally big) gap between strategy development and real-life execution by helping professionals identify hidden traps, create tightly focused priorities, allocate resources, fight organisational inertia, etc.
There is growing demand for executives who can drive transformational change. Since this transformation is more than certain to involve technology, executives need to be aware of how it impacts their company and the industry as a whole.
Let’s take the banking sector, for example. Banks have inflexible legacy systems that need to be moved to the cloud if they are to remain competitive. In addition, they are playing an increasingly smaller role in the financial system and are facing extensive competition from fintechs and Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Alphabet.
Of course, senior leaders in the banking sector don’t have to be data scientists, but they need to have their eyes wide open as the business landscape changes rapidly and dramatically. To address these shifts, many business schools are helping fill that gap between business and tech skills by including coding and data analysis courses in the curriculum.
Read more: Leading Through a Crisis with an EMBA
Integrity and humility
Although not skills per se, these character traits are indispensable for the executive of today. Skills you can develop, but integrity is something you choose.
When asked about the most important attributes of an employee, Warren Buffett says he looks for three things when he hires people. “We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
When it comes to humility, some may think it has no place in the often-brutal world of business. Henry Kravis, one of the founders of private equity firm KKR, tends to disagree. “We live in a world of fierce competition, and arrogance will kill you,” he says, adding: “The point isn’t to show that you are the smartest guy in the room.”
The ability to communicate is one of the sub-skills of the leadership skillset, however, communication deserves special attention, especially in an age when immediacy and transparency are highly valued.
Communication today is much more difficult because there are many more stakeholders now than before. “Speaking convincingly to the concerns of varied audiences— knowledgeable and unsophisticated, internal and external, friendly and sceptical—calls for mental deftness and stylistic versatility,” Boris Groysberg noted in an article for Harvard Business Review.
Executive MBA courses help professionals become more skilled communicators and thus better presenters, public speakers and writers. EMBA communication courses typically include multiple practice opportunities, video recordings of speeches and feedback.
The ability to lead people is of central importance for executives. A large portion of the coursework at EMBA programmes is dedicated to helping participants learn to be better leaders. Teaching methods range from individual leadership courses to coaching and 360-degree progress feedback.
One of the most useful features of EMBA programmes is that it enables participants to apply what they learn in class immediately to their jobs. When they return to campus, they share what worked — and what didn’t. Another outstanding feature are the discussions with the other participants in the programme, which magnifies the impact of the learning experience. The EMBA class is typically composed of professionals of diverse backgrounds, so one problem is viewed through many different lenses and perspectives.
Participants graduate with a better understanding of their talents and awareness of areas to focus on. Only then are they able to increase their impact and find their unique leadership style.