You have heard that earning an MBA can develop your industry knowledge, prepare you for leadership, and increase your career earnings. What may surprise you is that personal development is one of the most important factors in deciding to earn an MBA, and also its greatest reward.
According to the GMAC 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey, 73 percent of alumni cited personal development as their number one deciding factor. The next three factors were developing knowledge (62 percent), increasing salary (59 percent), and changing occupations (44 percent.) So not only was personal development important, but it was the decisive factor by a considerable margin.
How did the Master of Business Administration degree programs perform in meeting this expectation? Ninety-five percent of alumni said that the MBA experience delivered personal development. The results make perfect sense when you consider just a few of the benefits an MBA program offers:
Personal Transformation: Graduates often talk about how the MBA experience itself is transformative. From the application process through graduation, you have opportunities to reflect on your experiences, explore your strengths and weaknesses, and get insights on who you are and what you can do to improve yourself from professors and peers.
Insight: HRZone says insight “refers to that moment of clarity when a solution comes to you or a connection is made between new material and existing knowledge and you know instinctively that it’s correct.” That may sound like an unreliable way to arrive at truths of any kind, but surprisingly, a study cited in the article claims that 92 to 94 percent of insight answers were correct compared with about 80 percent of answers produced by logical analysis. The process of making intellectual connections in an MBA program develops a kind of neural “muscle memory” that can improve your capacity for insight.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking has applications in every facet of life. Author Steve Siebold defines this skill as “the ability to remove all emotion from an issue and observe the facts objectively to make a logical decision.” Linda Elder, President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, cleverly describes it as “Thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, in order to improve your thinking.” Think about that!
This skill improves your decision-making, claim evaluation and problem resolution. It can make you a better golfer, investor, consumer, citizen and even a better spouse. It can reduce your odds of being manipulated or swindled, and it can help you recognize a winning opportunity.
Leadership and Team Building: Leaders are able to organize groups of people, gain consensus and get them working efficiently toward a common goal. Team building involves establishing objectives, coordinating people, delegating responsibilities and evaluating performance. These skills have applications in any group setting. An MBA program provides opportunities to improve leadership and team building through group projects, collaborative assignments and group problem-solving.
Communication and Negotiation: MBA programs offer a variety of interpersonal and public speaking opportunities. The skills students develop include public speaking, persuasion, bargaining and motivation. These abilities have uses in nearly every facet of life, from creating stronger family bonds to negotiating a better price on a car.
Risk Management: Risk is a factor in personal decisions. How much life insurance does your family need? Should you live in a nicer house but in a higher crime area? Should you have a third child at age 40? These are all risk management questions that require a learned and practiced discipline of weighing risks against rewards and considering the likely outcomes.
Technology: Technology is a pervasive component of our lives. Technical proficiency, required for activities ranging from finding problem-solving applications on smartphones to using devices like digital projectors, is becoming a life skill in today’s world. MBA students get plenty of exposure to the latest technologies and an appreciation for their applications.
Organization and Time Management: How many projects can you commit to completing in a short time frame? Can you organize your son’s baseball team, help your daughter sell Girl Scout cookies, and cook a meal with your husband in 24 hours? Or will it take a whole weekend? MBA students learn how to make such an assessment and learn to accomplish more in less time by being highly organized.
Understanding the Impact of Business: Business and global economics have a cause and effect relationship. This has far-reaching implications that we see in the news each day. Geopolitics, global standards of living, competition for scarce resources, war, famine, peace, and prosperity can all be related to business. The knowledge students acquire in an MBA program enables them to take greater interest in these interrelationships. Socially, being knowledgeable in current events has advantages too.
These are just a few of the personal benefits one could derive from an MBA program. Graduates appreciate their improved financial management skills and the friends they made. They value the memory of the experience and the feeling of having succeeded in one of life’s most rewarding challenges. Indeed, for people desiring personal development, there may be few undertakings that produce greater satisfaction than completing an MBA degree.
Learn more about the FIU online MBA program.
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