Is An MBA Valuable?
Many people ask what is the best way to build your leadership capability? Often the thing people think about is whether to do an MBA. And the truth is it really depends.
If I look at my own situation, where I got a professional qualification in accountancy which was very rounded and went well beyond the technical aspects, I am not convinced.
For others with more of general management background and there is no recognised universal management qualification, I can see a huge amount of value in an MBA. Similarly if you are looking to make a career change it can be hugely valuable.
The most important thing is that you keep developing and at different stages in your career you will need different things.
The Early Part Of Your Career
In the early stages of your career where you are really focusing on building skills, training courses and workshops are extremely valuable. These can range from short master classes of a couple of hours right up to events lasting several days.
You can even consider taking some sort of online training, especially when you are looking to acquire knowledge. I offer online courses like my Leadership On The Go programme which is a combination of audio trainings and written materials.
Clearly what you get on in person course is that you get the opportunity to put the learning into practice in a safe environment as well as the chance to access the trainer or workshop leader.
Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Real Life Experience
As well as formal training it is really beneficial to seek out opportunities to get real life experience of being in a leadership role.
There are many ways in which you could do this. As an example you could represent your part of the organisation in a cross organisation project such as a major change or improvement.
Another option is to take the opportunity to go on a secondment to another part of the organisation or if it is a bigger organisation to even go for a period of time to a completely different type of business within the group.
If someone is going on maternity leave or there is a post that is being left vacant you could take up the role in an acting up capacity.
For me all of these are extremely valuable part of developing your leadership capability.
At A More Senior Level Consider A Coach Or Mentor
At a senior level you can look at a 9 to 12 month leadership development programme which will use a number of different approaches.
Additionally I would encourage you to seriously consider hiring your own coach or mentor to work with. When you are in leadership you can often feel vulnerable or alone, especially when the going gets really tough.
At lower levels there are usually others who you can talk through issues and challenges with. At the more senior level it is often much more difficult to do this.
I know that when I have worked with senior people, one of the things that they have said to me that they really value is the time to stop, reflect, take stock, look at different ways of operating and then putting what they learn into immediate action.
You are likely to use a range of different approaches to developing and improving your leadership capability. What I have found is that no matter how far you have progressed in your career, there is always more to learn. Not least because the size and scale of the challenges you face and will face only become bigger, driven by what is happening internally and externally.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.