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The Importance of Teamwork in an Executive MBA Program

team work

A strong emphasis is placed on teamwork in EMBA programs. It is a vital element of the degree and crucial if students wish to come out of it with something to show for the time and money spent. Great teamwork is a key part of managing people, which is, of course, what an executive MBA is all about.

Here are just some of the reasons why community spirit is essential to an executive MBA.

Complementing each other’s skills

Understanding and getting along with your cohort is important not only for harmonious study, but also for your own success. The depth and breadth of knowledge of participants in most EMBA programs is vast, with the cohort likely to be comprised of specialists in a range of diverse industries and functions. Relying on each other to bring your best skills to the table will result in academic and professional achievement that cannot be matched by one person trying to carry a project all on their own.

Participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds; it is a myth that only financial-minded students are capable of achieving an executive MBA. Cohorts can be made up of entrepreneurs, ex-military personnel , people from creative industries and even veterinary practitioners!

Each person brings their own individual outlook and skills to the team, whether they are from traditional business backgrounds or not. The teamwork required for an EMBA means that people are usually willing to offer the benefit of their expertise in certain areas to other members of the cohort. These individuals are the essential building blocks of your community and would expect the same assistance be extended to them when they are in need of it.

Bringing each other’s skills to the fore involves a lot of effort and patience from each member of the team. Luckily, the task of getting to know each other in an executive MBA program is assisted by most schools insisting that students spend as much time as possible networking and studying  with their cohort. If you get to know your cohort in your first few weeks of study (most programs will kick the course off with an on-campus meet-up), you are well on the way to building a cohesive EMBA community spirit that can be built upon throughout the year.

Emotional support

The difficulty of an EMBA is not only in the time consumed by classes and networking; it requires students to be away from their family and friends for extended periods of time over the one-two years over which study is spread. Spare time at home is taken up with EMBA projects, working hours during the week are filled with professional requirements, and occasional long weekends are reserved for EMBA learning with their cohorts.

The EMBA lifestyle is something that very few other people can relate to. People usually have a hectic job, study schedule or family life – but very rarely deal with all three at once! As such, it’s advisable that students lean on their cohort for support when the going gets tough. It’s unlikely that a colleague or family member can offer you all the support you need if they are so far removed from what you are going through on a day-to-day basis. All executive MBA students are in the same boat and dealing with the same daily pressures.

It is easy to voice your worries or concerns with other EMBAs because you spend such extended periods of time in each other’s company. The community aspect of an EMBA comes into practice again here as cohorts are not merely formed to gain business perspective – they are a support network too.

Networking Connections

Networking is key to EMBA success – and almost as important as teamwork! However, you cannot simply rely on your own connections to get ahead in business. As mentioned earlier in this article, a strong team involves everybody’s skills and talents being pooled together.

While you may have useful contacts of your own, you can gain a lot more by networking with your cohort in a productive way. Often, people are very willing to introduce business associates to their contacts as they know the same courtesy will be extended to them in return when they need it. The cohort actively sets out to work together as a community, rather than compete with one another, as they know that is what makes a strong and effective team.

Ultimately, your cohort is one of your key building blocks to EMBA success. If you make the most of engaging with your cohort, and creating community spirit on (and beyond) campus, then you could see your grades soar, your contacts quadruple and your stress levels decrease dramatically.

Helen Vaudrey
Written by Helen Vaudrey

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