Why Business Schools Should Focus on Communication Skills

Why Business Schools Should Focus on Communication Skills main image

Communication is the cornerstone of civilization, separating humans from other species. Without the ability to express, people cannot convey their basic needs or deepest desires. Dreams can never be uttered and therefore can never become reality.

Certainly, no one can lead a squad into victory without solid communication skills. Yet, top business schools still struggle to find the best ways to teach this vital tool. This has consequences.

Recruiters are demanding more from the MBAs business schools produce. In the Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2018, we learned that many employers feel new MBA hires need more soft skills. Specifically, the interpersonal relationship and leadership skills, which include communication, were lacking compared to the importance employers placed upon them.

“The message for MBAs is clear: employers are looking for visionaries, not just functional managers who are able to keep things ticking along,” according to the report. Obviously, communication plays an important role in being a “visionary” because you have to articulate what you envision for the future.  

That’s why business schools have to make improving communication skills among students a priority. Learn why this is the right path at institutions of higher learning in general and particularly at MBA programs.

To dole out assignments

Most importantly, leaders must delegate. This requires explanation of your expectations. You have to be able to tell each individual what is his or her responsibility. In addition, you have to explicitly convey the tasks at hand and exactly how to execute them.

A leader communicates to all the cogs in the wheel, so they know how they fit and what part they will be playing in getting the thing to roll. You have to dream in color and describe that vision in simple black and white. The point is your people must understand how they fit into the big picture. It’s your job to tell them.

To lift spirits

The first step in creating a cohesive team is having everyone know his or her role in accomplishing certain goals. The next step is keeping everyone motivated, so together you eventually achieve success. Learning how to provide directions, so employees can take them and run is easy when compared to offering an uplifting message. In other words, ordering people around is not enough to be a good manager. You have to inspire them and keep them invested in bringing your vision to fruition.

This is where communication becomes less technical and more artful. In essence, this is the hard part. And this is indeed where many teachers lose business students. They get numbers and logic and putting together words, so the team knows its chores, but communicating emotion to motivate people is far more complicated.

Still, there are tricks to the trade. Professors can share examples of poignant speakers, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. They can teach you to ask questions about employees’ feelings. Then, you can respond appropriately with your well-chosen words (which is also teachable).

Finally, you can learn how to tap into any natural talents you might have for relating to others. To lift spirits, words alone won’t cut it. You have to prove you genuinely care about the people with whom you’re working. Employees must feel they matter to you and that their work has value.

To learn, to listen

What people fail to realize is that more than half of proper communication requires being a good listener. In fact, relationship experts will tell you that learning to listen is vital to everything from being a successful teacher to keeping your marriage together.


Some therapists actually have people practice their listening skills. For example, they might have one person listen to the other and repeat word for word what he or she said. Often, they don’t get it right the first time around. You have to develop the skill of truly hearing what another says. This kind of training would be useful to business leaders and members of a team alike.

Once you actually hear another person, you can begin to take his or her ideas and opinions into account. You can hash out any differences you have. Perhaps, best of all, you can put yourself in his or her shoes and get a sense of the experience of another.

To make sales

Good communication skills usually translate into a better bottom line. After all, if you and your employees have the capacity to describe the product or service you’re selling and explain its worth to others, then you can convince them to buy it.

Converting sales also requires relationship building and relationships are built on communication. As your ability to communicate improves, so will your network, which will lead to more partnerships and sales. With the right people on your side, frankly, the possibilities are virtually endless.

To better handle crises

Many businesses suffer a crisis every now and then. The difference between surviving or dying during one is how you handle it. Good communication can help your business stay alive as you can act swiftly to share the appropriate words explaining the crisis both internally and to the public. You can also adeptly answer questions from journalists, government officials, consumers, and others.

Just imagine how much better things might be going for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the ongoing Facebook-Cambridge Analytica saga if he had better communication skills.

To capitalize on charisma

Great communicators can tell a winning story at a dinner party. Most of all, they can use their ability to communicate to charm others and make friends. Despite the stereotype of hardened, tough-as-nails managers being able to control employees, most experts will tell you that likeability will yield better results.

After all, as the saying goes, “You catch more bees with honey”. Thus, to better network, keep employees on your team, and reach the top, you need the best communication skills possible. 

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.


Nunzio Quacquarelli

Nunzio is the founder and CEO of QS. Following completion of his own MBA from the Wharton School, he has gone on to become a leader in education management with over 25 years of experience in the industry. He is truly passionate about education and firmly believes in the QS mission to help young people to fulfill their potential through educational achievement, international mobility and career development. 

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