How Can Leadership Training Help You Become a Good Manager?

How Can Leadership Training Help You Become a Good Manager? main image

Picking an MBA program which offers good leadership training can equip you with the fundamental skills to be both a good leader and a good manager. Alan Muller, MBA director at the University of Amsterdam explains why it is necessary to choose your program wisely.

Choosing a good leadership development program

A good leadership development program is centered on getting to know oneself better. It helps you gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses, how you interact with other people, and how you function in teams. Since people within teams and groups tend to play certain roles, good MBA leadership programs have a strong introspective element. They get you to think about yourself and your journey, and how you became the person that you are.

At the University of Amsterdam, for example, much of the MBA leadership training takes place off-campus. Candidates go on a retreat in small groups with the instructor and that’s where the real learning takes place. A good leadership development program can’t entirely be delivered in a classroom or in a lecture-type format.

Though the retreat is a group experience, it is really about the candidate’s individual learning curve and many return from this program with a more sound understanding of themselves.

However leadership training has multiple functions. It can also be very valuable in terms of strengthening bonds within the cohort. After the retreat, for example, Amsterdam MBA candidates interact with each other more comfortably.

The skills of a good manager

An MBA is a management degree but being a good manager, which is very much focused on processes, is something different than being a leader. Management is in large part a question of functional knowledge and experience dealing with the processes you’ve acquired knowledge on. But if you want to move into a senior executive role, leadership training can prove invaluable.

For example, it is important for candidates to understand that different people have different leadership styles. These differences will shape what their colleagues or subordinates expect of them in terms of guidance and feedback.

To help candidates discover their individual leadership style, the MBA program at the University of Amsterdam includes an assessment through which candidates can tell if they are more inclined towards management or innovation, and if they are more explorative or more likely to act conventionally. Such an assessment can help shed a little light on how one fits into the leadership-management matrix.

Understanding the link between leadership and management

A good MBA program, therefore, will incorporate both leadership and management aspects.

It’s not about knowing more than your subordinates, it’s about knowing how to ask the right questions and give feedback. For instance, at the University of Amsterdam, candidates have to do a lot of team-based work, and the dynamics within teams can be tricky. But if people get into arguments and start pointing fingers, this forces candidates to think about taking ownership, as someone has to step up to restore order. In this way teamwork becomes an explicit element of the program’s leadership training.

Another insight into leadership and management can come to the fore when teams are off-campus. Everybody conforms to their environment to some degree and if candidates are on-campus then they’re in that role. To be transposed to another setting forces people to view their environment differently. They are in a more challenging space, and can’t always react and respond to the setting or people in the way they are accustomed to. This can prove to be a major learning curve.

Key to successfully integrating leadership and management is the understanding what type of leader you are, or are able to become.

This article is sponsored by Amsterdam Business School.

Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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