Five Skills an MBA Should Teach Future Leaders During a Global Recession

Five Skills MBAs Should Teach Future Leaders During a Global Recession main image

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need for strong, reliable leaders.

Companies across industries and sectors have had to quickly adapt to coincide with drastic global economic changes to survive. This has led many to question the longevity of their business models, strategies, and relationships with stakeholders.

While surviving has been the top priority in the last few months, executives across the world have now begun to reassess their expectations. Is surviving enough or should businesses aim to thrive – even during a global recession?

Business schools play a fundamental role in creating some of the world’s most forward-thinking leaders. However, as the world has drastically changed over the course of 2020, so have the needs of businesses, employees, and consumers alike.

Here are the five skills MBAs should teach future business leaders to tackle challenges, promote innovation and bring people together during times of crisis.

Sustainable mindset

Sustainability is one of the most prominent issues of our generation. However, according to research by Russell Reynolds Associates and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), barely four percent of role specifications for executive and non-executive positions demand sustainability experience or mindsets.

The coronavirus pandemic is set to change this, as now more than ever business has been hit by the fragility of our ecosystem.

As Catherine Karyotis, Professor of Finance at NEOMA Business School, said: “The major future professions are those that respond to future societal challenges, such as financing the energy transition, green finance socially responsible investment and impact investing.

“We need to imagine green labels, adaptations to climate change and green value in asset management. The objective for the coming years is to put business at the service of the real economy, people and the planet.”

Emotional intelligence

Lockdowns across the globe have forced employees to work remotely and create a new life-work balance. While some have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time at home, many have struggled to adapt to sudden changes in their routine.

As a result, mental health experts are advocating for emotional intelligence to be implemented in executive skillets.

As Rachel Suff, wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, said: “Employers also need to remember that their duty of care for people’s health and safety carries on no matter where staff are based.

“While more managers are being trained to help colleagues with their mental health, it doesn’t always seem to be translating into better support for staff.”

Digital proficiency

Research by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and the Business Graduate Association (BGA) shows that MBA employers rely on MBAs to promote technological advancements in their place of work. However, only 26 percent of recruiters feel that MBA graduates are using AI, augmented reality and big data to the best of their ability.

If b-schools want to keep up with innovations in business, it’s imperative that they give students the right tools to do so. Not only will this help them land top-tier jobs, it will also allow them to make a long-lasting and transformational industry-wide impact.

Global perspective

Over the last few months, most business activities – from negotiations to acquisitions and events – moved online. While this showed the true power of being connected through technology, it also highlighted that business is set to become even more international.

For this reason, it’s likely that more b-school candidates will seek degrees that allow them to gain and nurture the cultural sensitivity and perspective necessary to go global and effectively oversee business across borders.


Many have speculated on what offices might look like in the future, and for a good reason: surveys show that workers’ opinions about returning to work in-person vary significantly based on their individual situation.

This puts managers in a tricky position. On one hand, it’s in their best interest to promote business continuity; on the other, most want to accommodate their employees and ensure their safety at work. As a result, a flexible mindset will soon become essential to create more resilient business systems – and who better than b-schools to teach it?

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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