According to a 2015 KPMG Women’s Leadership survey, 60 percent of women say they’d like to rise to a position of leadership, whether as a senior member of an organization or as a board member. But the same number of women say they struggle to see themselves in such a role, and 56 percent say that, as women, they’re cautious about moving toward leadership roles.
It’s clear that many women need more confidence in order to envision themselves as leaders and move toward leadership roles. Confidence comes by building skills, and going to business school is a great way for women to develop the leadership and management skills they need to succeed in the senior roles they want. Business school gives women the chance to learn technical and soft skills, find mentors, expand their networks, and understand their own strengths and weaknesses, all of which can leave them more equipped to effectively lead a team.
Business School Builds Technical and Soft Skills
You don’t necessarily need to earn an MBA in order to start and run a successful business, or even climb the corporate ladder, but it sure helps. In business school, women can learn technical skills like finance, marketing, and accounting that will help them succeed. In addition to learning these valuable skills and developing business acumen, going back to school will give women an impressive credential to put on their resumes. For the average woman, who may not have time, between work and family commitments, to go back to school, an online MBA program might be a viable alternative to a costly, traditional program. At least one online MBA program in California, at CSU Monterey Bay, offers students discounted tuition, as well as the opportunity to complete coursework on their own schedule.
But the business school also offers women a chance to develop soft skills. These days, many business schools cater to the needs of women by offering courses that help to level the playing field and prepare women to succeed in male-dominated arenas. Some programs, for example, offer courses in things that women typically struggle with, such as assertiveness and negotiation. While these courses aren’t just for women – men can and do enroll in them, too – they can help many women overcome years of social conditioning to learn the skills they need to close favorable deals, speak up for themselves in meetings, accept constructive criticism, deliver effective critiques, and even net a more desirable salary.
Going Back to School Gives Women Access to an Expanded Network
Mentorship is often an important component in helping women build leadership and management skills, and the business school provides women with valuable chances to find it. Faculty in MBA programs tend to be committed to helping their students succeed; many got into teaching because they want to make a difference and help others advance in their careers, and mentoring relationships with former professors often continue long after women have earned their degrees.
Going to graduate school can also help women expand their professional networks. Students attending the same graduate classes together tend to bond with one another, and those friendships can persist long after graduation day. Most students in MBA programs eventually go on to greater things, so that connections with grad school colleagues become more valuable as time goes on.
Business School Helps Women Get to Know Themselves
In addition to boosting women’s confidence and leadership skills, going to business school can give women a more intimate knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses. That’s important because when you’re looking to move into to a new leadership role, you need to know what strengths you bring to that role, and what competencies you have still to develop, to help you prepare. Women who want to succeed in leadership also need to start thinking ahead about the career moves they wish to make in the future, and how they can start building new skills and capitalizing on strengths to prepare for those desired roles when they come along.
Many women would like to move up into leadership roles but feel intimidated by the prospect. Business school can help women gain the skills and competence they need to succeed as leaders, by leveling the playing field and giving women the opportunities they need to work toward senior roles.