If you’re interested in becoming a globally recognized business leader, you’ll need a strategy to establish yourself as an authority both domestically and abroad. Since many of the world’s most prominent business leaders got their start with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), one of your first steps should be to pursue an advanced degree that can both provide you with the requisite business skills needed for success and open doors for your career.
Management skills are a principal focus of most MBA programs, but you’ll also learn other essential leadership skills along the way, such as the ability to work with team members of different backgrounds and cultures. Now is an ideal time for many working professionals to pursue an MBA since many MBA programs are fully available online.
Below, we’ll explore what steps you can take in the immediate future to pursue your goal of becoming a global business leader. We’ll also explain how the top-ranked University of Kansas’ online MBA program can help.
Gain the Necessary Business Skills
Being a leader requires a distinct set of skills. You must be able to lead, influence, and manage large groups of people, but you also need the technical acumen to understand each of the business processes under your supervision.
Here are some tips on developing your soft and hard skills as a global business leader.
Most experts define “soft skills” as social and communication skills—skills that underlie nearly every aspect of business leadership. For example, as a leader and/or manager, you need to be able to work effectively with others, provide constructive feedback, and understand the mindsets of your team to be successful.
While you may be familiar with the soft skills needed to conduct business in one country, it is important to note that different cultures value different types of soft skills.
For example, people working in “low-context environments”, such as the U.S., tend to communicate more directly because they do not expect shared knowledge or context. Meanwhile, people in “high-context” cultures like China expect a certain level of shared knowledge, and as a result they are less verbally explicit and rely more heavily on what’s not being said.1 Similarly, some cultures emphasize the importance of completing tasks and projects, whereas others emphasize the importance of building relationships.
To help build your foundational knowledge about soft skills across different cultures, “You can start by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and interacting with people from other cultures,” says Kruse. “Then, take the time to reflect on the situation.” Additionally, you can seek out employment opportunities abroad and on multicultural teams to hone these skills or choose MBA programs that include courses on international business, like KU.
Hard skills require a familiarity with the technical aspects of your position. This includes learning software you might use while operating in a leadership position. However, it can also mean understanding how different departments within the business work together.
During your career, you should familiarize yourself with the tools and processes used at businesses in different cultural contexts. You should also learn to conduct presentations, run meetings, and delegate tasks within a multicultural team.
Develop Leadership Characteristics
Finally, you should work to develop the characteristics that mark a global business leader. According to Global Leadership Magazine from the European Academy for Executive Education, some of the key traits that define global leaders are resilience, integrity, emotional intelligence, humility, and adaptability.2 Some MBA programs offer courses regarding understanding human and group behavior, for example, at KU, students take “Managing People,” a course focused on business-related people issues.
Launch Your Global Business Career
Now that you understand the skills you need to pursue a career as a global business leader, you need a plan of action. Here, we’ve laid out a potential path for you to reach your goal.
Pursue an MBA
An MBA doesn’t just look good on your resume. MBA programs are designed to teach you the necessary skills for becoming a business leader and can also introduce you to a wide network of business leaders, which is highly valuable if you want to obtain a leadership position on a global scale.
Furthermore, MBA programs can give you a significant career boost. For example, over 60% of MBA graduates from the University of Kansas received a promotion or a higher-level position at a new employer within a year of completing the program.3
Challenge Yourself and Take Risks Early
Once you receive your degree, you’ll be ready to put your skills to the test. Now is the time to challenge yourself and take a few risks. If you’ve been considering taking on more responsibility, you now have the expertise to do so.
According to Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company, “The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action—an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign—even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo.”4
If a leadership role becomes available, apply for it. Once you’ve established yourself as a competent leader, continue to challenge yourself and stay open to new opportunities.
Take a Position Abroad
If you genuinely want to establish yourself as a global business leader, you’ll need to expand your horizons and move abroad. In this case, most experts suggest you move abroad permanently or semi-permanently.
Sunil Puri, the Director of Research at the Center for Creative Leadership, says, “Don’t go away for two months; that’s just a holiday. You need to go away for at least two years.” Puri also suggested that two years is the minimum amount of time you need to gain a thorough understanding of another culture.5
The Top-ranked Online MBA from the University of Kansas
If you want to stand out in today’s business landscape, you need advanced skills and a creative mind. The AACSB-accredited University of Kansas School of Business is offering an online MBA program to help develop the next generation of global business leaders.
As the No. 20 Best Online MBA by US News & World Report, students will receive a high-quality education.6 To learn more about our flexible online curriculum and award-winning faculty, get a program brochure today.
1. Retrieved on January 25, 2021, from businessinsider.com/7-skills-you-must-master-if-you-want-to-be-a-global-business-leader-2016-3
2. Retrieved on January 25, 2021, from eurac.com/key-traits-attitudes-and-skills-of-global-leaders/
3. Based on a limited sample of self-reported data from alumni of the University of Kansas School of Business online MBA program from graduating cohorts from 2016-2019.
4. Retrieved on January 25, 2021, from hbr.org/2010/08/pass-leadership-test
5. Retrieved on January 25, 2021, from cnbc.com/2018/02/11/leadership-tips-for-making-it-as-a-global-business-leader.html
6. Retrieved on January 27, 2021, from usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-kansas-155317