Career Woman

Develop business leadership skills with an MBA


If you’re a woman and an aspiring business leader, an MBA program may be the golden ticket that gets you on the train to success. While many successful entrepreneurs still claim that you don’t need an MBA in order to succeed in business, having one certainly can’t hurt. It’s easy for someone who has already been successful without an MBA to disparage the usefulness of the degree, but for entrepreneurs in general, skipping the MBA is an exception, not the rule.

And MBAs are increasingly popular among women. More than 36 percent of full-time and 39 percent of part-time MBA students are female. Earning an MBA can give you a chance to flesh out your business model in an environment where failure isn’t catastrophic, like it is in the real business world. It can also help you get accustomed to working in male-dominated environments, put you on a more equal footing with future investors and business partners, and help you overcome the confidence gap that keeps many women from enjoying the same success as their male counterparts.

Polish your business plan

One of the biggest benefits of an MBA program is that it lets you work the kinks out of your business plan in an environment that’s insulated against failure. You’ll study the business mistakes of other entrepreneurs, and spend two years learning the strategic thinking skills you’ll need to succeed in business, whether it’s as an entrepreneur or in the upper levels of management. Most programs offer students the chance to work on a business plan with input and assistance from faculty mentors and peers, and if your business plan has fatal flaws, you’ll be in a position to fix those flaws before your plan enters the proving ground of the real world. That means your business plan will be vetted, tested, and ready to implement when you finish your degree.

Get used to working with men

The most important trait you can have as a female business leader is a certain fearlessness when it comes to working in male-dominated environments. In business school, 60 to 70 percent of your classmates will be men, and in the business world, that number can jump significantly, depending how high up you are in your company; only four percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women, and women hold fewer than 20 percent of corporate board seats. So, as a woman in business, you’ll need to get used to being the only woman in the room.

Business school will help you grow a thicker skin when it comes to working with mostly men, and many schools offer seminars specifically geared toward helping women develop leadership skills. Whether you choose a traditional or an online MBA in California, look for a program that offers courses in negotiation, leadership, and managing groups. Good MBA programs teach women how to cope with gender issues they might face in the business world, such as asserting themselves in meetings and taking constructive criticism. Take advantage of group coursework and student organizations to develop and practice leadership skills.

Be taken seriously by investors, business partners, and colleagues

While women have made great strides towards equality over the last few decades, many business women still struggle to be taken seriously by their peers. Research shows that, for many women, the only thing keeping them from enjoying the same success and respect their male peers enjoy is their lack of self-confidence.

But earning an MBA can help you bridge the confidence gap. It’s hard to go through the rigors of a graduate degree program without becoming a lot surer of yourself, and MBA program will give you the same background in financial and organizational fundamentals and strategic thinking that many of your colleagues, partners, and investors will have. Colleagues, partners, and investors, who may also have MBA degrees of their own, will take you more seriously knowing that you have one as well.

Upper management remains very much a man’s world, but that’s not going to change until more women insist on taking their seats at the table. Earning an MBA could smooth your path to a successful career in business leadership, to help level the playing field for you, and for women everywhere.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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