How a Degree in Management and Leadership Can Advance Your Career
Most people don’t want to stay in the same entry-level position throughout their working life. Instead, they seek ways to climb the professional ladder either within their company or by moving to a new organization.
If you’re like many of us, you’ve probably found that career advancement is not always a simple matter of hard work. Knowing that many of your peers have similar career goals, how can you stand out from the crowd?
One way you can try to advance your career is by pursuing an advanced degree. Enrolling in an advanced organizational leadership degree or a related business leadership and management program may help enhance your skill set and potentially open doors to higher-paying positions.
If you are thinking about starting a career in management, this article is for you. In this blog, we’ll explain how a degree in management and leadership may help you advance your career.
Developing a Versatile Skill Set
If you’re thinking that a degree in management and leadership sounds vague and open-ended, you’re correct. But this isn’t a bad thing. Instead, this can actually be looked at as one of the benefits of this field of study.
While a degree in nursing or elementary education is generally only applicable in one industry, a management degree may be leveraged to qualify you for a wide range of industries and careers.
This is because management and leadership degree programs are generally designed to produce well-rounded graduates capable of handling anything their business throws at them. No two businesses are exactly alike, so management leadership programs can benefit from being flexible.
Most programs will strive to build the following skills:
It’s helpful to be able to communicate effectively with your customers, the employees you manage, and other stakeholders in your company. To this end, you’ll likely practice writing, presenting, and speaking clearly and impactfully throughout your studies.
Creative problem solving
Knowing how to solve problems, often creatively, can help keep your business running smoothly. A management degree program can offer you the opportunity to practice solving problems in a low-stakes environment so that you’re better prepared for the real thing.
Effective decision making
Along with problem-solving, you’ll likely learn how to make decisions quickly when needed. The ability to think fast on your feet and evolve with changing situations can benefit any leadership career.
One of the most important skills any leader can possess is the ability to mediate conflict. You’ll likely learn how to understand other people’s emotions and how to keep your team working together even when people disagree.
Leadership and management aren’t the same thing. To be successful at either, it’s helpful to understand the difference. Management focuses on processes, while strategic leadership is about people and relationships. You can learn the theories behind leading and empowering others to help employees perform their jobs effectively.
Management courses generally also teach about business ethics. You can apply these principles to your decision-making strategies to demonstrate that you have sound judgment and you’re a trustworthy leader. Employees, coworkers, and clients can appreciate ethical behavior, which may in turn enhance the reputation of a company.
Organization and time management
Tackling both work and graduate school simultaneously can be a difficult challenge. You must remain organized and plan your time effectively to finish your degree program. This can give you practice for post-graduation. It can also demonstrate that you’re able to take on more responsibility without being overwhelmed—a desirable trait to highlight in your cover letter or in interviews.
Strong interpersonal skills are a prized leadership characteristic. To work well with others, you must be able to understand people and their behaviors. Your coursework in management and global leadership can help you understand the psychology behind human behavior, thus preparing you to respond effectively to your employees and customers.
As a manager, you’ll benefit from being able to help others grow and build their skill sets. A degree in management can arm you with the skills needed to motivate and teach your employees to reach their potential.
Organizational management and leadership degree programs typically develop their curriculum with employer needs in mind.1 They focus on teaching the things you’ll likely need to know to be successful as you advance your career. With these skills, you may be more marketable and better able to handle management and leadership roles within your organization.
Depending on where you are in your educational journey, you may decide to pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree program. Let’s take a closer look at three potential degree programs.
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
In an MBA program, you’ll likely develop an understanding of how to:2
- Foster multicultural and diverse business operations
- Work well on teams (whether or not you’re leading them)
- Make decisions grounded in data and logic
- Follow appropriate business ethics
- Communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders
All of these skills may help make you a more attractive candidate for promotion in your current organization and for a wide range of advertised managerial roles.
Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)
If you’re further along in your educational and career journey, a DBA program may be a smart choice. These international business programs typically focus on:
- High-level research and analysis skills
- The ability to use data to build sustainable businesses
- Professional ethics for decision making
- The ability to solve complex problems
- Interpersonal communication skills that work across differences
As a DBA candidate of a business school, you’ll likely complete original research to produce a thesis or dissertation. This document can serve as further proof of your ability to gather and apply data in order to achieve organizational success.
You may then be able to apply these abilities across any business model as a manager.
Ph.D. in Leadership
Finally, you can choose a Ph.D. in a leadership program where you’ll likely develop:
- Skills in research design and application
- Critical evaluation skills in a global context
- Deep knowledge of the standards of ethical decision making
- Cross-cultural communication skills
- Abilities to strategically plan and implement your ideas
As with a DBA, you may have to complete original research, although it may be more focused on leadership than management (depending on your program’s specific curriculum).
Choose the Right Field
One thing you’ll notice about all of these potential educational paths is that they can teach management skills and leadership skills you might use across many industries.
Because you learn a diverse skill set, you may be able to utilize your abilities to advance in your career or make a transition to your dream industry, regardless of whether it’s finance, nursing, education, or something else. A good leader or manager, adept in change management, conflict management, and organizational leadership among many others, needs to be able to do similar things in any industry.
However, you may also have the opportunity to select your electives, concentrations, and, if applicable, thesis or dissertation topic. If that’s the case, it’s important to have your eye on a specific field of business from the outset. It can be helpful to consider your personal passions and past experiences.
Career Prospects for Managers
The demand for management positions is expected to increase over the next decade, resulting in the massive addition of new job opportunities. Some graduates are finding work in various roles such as management and leadership positions such as:
- Marketing Communications Manager
- Training Coordinator and Professional Development Manager
- Operations Director
- Health Services Manager
- Project Director
- Sales Supervisor
- Property Manager
- Cybersecurity and Security Operations Manager
Make Professional Connections
Participating in a management and leadership degree program can help introduce you to other professionals. This might make it easier for you to build a network of potential career-boosting connections. Having others in your industry familiar with your name and work may give you a foot in the door for career advancement opportunities.
To that end, you might find it beneficial to:
- Attend seminars and roundtable discussions featuring experts from your target industry
- Participate in networking events
- Follow-up on potential connections to request informational interviews
- Take advantage of internship opportunities
Professional networks can also help you learn more about what’s going on in your field of work, which can help support your career growth. If the new opportunities for promotion aren’t available in your current workplace, you can use your network of business leaders and professional connections to find other offerings that suit your needs.
Take Advantage of Flexible Schedule Offerings For Professionals
Finally, degree programs in management and leadership typically offer flexible schedule options geared toward working professionals.
You can often take courses online, on weekends, or in the evenings. This means you can continue to work while improving your skills and marketability. Additionally, some employers may cover some or all of the cost of your educational program if it increases your value as an employee.
Advance Your Career in Management
When it comes to how to advance your career, earning a degree in management and leadership can be an excellent option. The graduate certificate and skills you learn through your professional studies may open doors in a variety of fields and allow you to step into many different roles. You may also find that your earning potential increases as you utilize the professional connections you make.
At Alliant International University, we offer several management and leadership degrees and programs you can consider as you start this next journey. Plus, with online and on-campus classes, there’s something to fit your busy schedule. Contact us today and take the next step in your career.
- “Top Business Skills for Success on the Job | Education ...” October 29, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/education/learn-business-skills. Accessed: December 23, 2021.
- “Summary of Program Learning Outcomes Assessment and Program Performance: California School of Management and Leadership .” Alliant International University. July 18, 2018. https://p.widencdn.net/mbpyx9/ACBSP-Assessment-Summary. Accessed: December 23, 2021.
- “Management Occupations : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. September 08, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/. Accessed: December 23, 2021.