Want to take your career to the next level? Start by boosting your business skills.
Whether or not you majored in business as an undergraduate, your ability to navigate the business world affects your job performance—and your career—across industries.
Business skills are especially important for women who want to step up as leaders and role models, forging a path to success so that other women can follow in their footsteps.
If you are thinking of getting an MBA, here are eight reasons it’s worth expanding your business knowledge:
1. You’ll be a better leader.
Not a “born leader?” Don’t worry—nobody is. Leadership is learned, and you can learn it. In addition to business acumen, good leadership requires soft skills like emotional intelligence, which seem to come more naturally to women than men.
Being able to communicate effectively and empathize with others will help you develop strong connections with your colleagues.
2. You’ll feel more confident—and other people will notice.
If you’ve ever struggled with imposter syndrome or felt too shy to speak up in a meeting, you know a lack of confidence holds you back. The more you learn about business, the more you’ll believe in yourself and feel confident that you have valuable insights to share.
Businesses benefit from diverse voices, so by joining the conversation, you’re not just raising your own profile—you’re helping your company succeed.
3. It expands your career options, whether you want to advance to the C-suite or pivot to a new industry.
When you focus on building your business skills, especially if you decide to pursue an MBA, you increase your earning potential and marketability. A business school degree demonstrates your readiness to step into a higher role or to take your career in a whole new direction.
4. You’ll negotiate for what you want.
The gender pay gap is still an issue—even at the top. At the 2019 Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, Booth School of Business professor Elena Zinchenko told attendees, “Women earn less for comparable work that they’re qualified to do than men, and the discrepancy is really dramatic in the upper echelons. Looking at U.S. firms, only 2.5% of the five highest-paid positions are held by women.”
Women can help change that by negotiating for higher pay. Zinchenko advises women to think about negotiations as a creative problem-solving process, rather than an adversarial situation.
5. You’ll get better at collaborating.
Trying to achieve your goals on your own? You’re making things harder than they have to be. Learning how to collaborate effectively—whether it’s something you practice in business school or develop through years of experience—will help you do a better job.
By working closely with people who have diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, you’ll be able to approach problems from different angles and find the best possible solutions.
6. You’ll make the most of your network
At the Forte MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, Dana McNabb, president of U.S. Cereal and Snacks at General Mills, spoke about the importance of networking. She said, “If you don’t recognize that in every organization there is politics, there is a system, and a game you have to play, you are going to lose.”
Networking isn’t just about getting to know colleagues at your workplace and in your industry—it’s about building relationships with them and learning how to work together.
7. It’ll help you prioritize, and not just on the job
You can’t do it all, or at least, you can’t do it all well. So what matters most to you? Being able to define your priorities and list them in order of importance makes it easier to see the big picture. You’ll be able to focus on one thing at a time, which not only helps you get more done—it lowers your stress level.
To thrive in the workplace, you have to make time for the things that matter most to you, at work and at home.
8. You’ll make a real impact
Whether your career is focused on giving back to the community, becoming the head of a big company, or starting your own business, the more you develop your skills, the more you’ll inspire other women to reach for their dreams.
When you expand your business knowledge, you’re also expanding your impact on the world.