The Most Effective Business Leaders Are Great Communicators

September 1, 2021
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In the 21st century leaders with strong soft skills are in high demand. Communication, dealing with ambiguity and critical thinking were noted in a recent McKinsey survey of HR professionals as the top missing soft skills in recruiting. Deloitte found a similar result in its 2020 survey of 9,000 global business and HR leaders: 84 percent said that the development of skills like communication, creativity and problem-solving was important or very important to respondents' workforce development strategy. And the OECD, in its 2019 skills outlook for thriving in a digital world, highlighted problem-solving, critical thinking, communication skills and the ability to continue learning as critical for success.

While automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to change roles of individuals for the foreseeable future, communication, management and leadership skills remain relevant and central for success. Today's workforce needs the right mix of skills to thrive as organization continue to undergo digital transformation. It's clear that communication is a vital skill for leaders and organizational success.

Recognizing that communication is one of the 24 durable skills that workers need to thrive in rapidly changing organizations, Baylor's Executive MBA program refined its Cornerstone Commitments to ensure that communication skills and interacting with diverse populations plays a strong role in the program.

Baylor's EMBA Promise: Connecting and Collaborating to Develop Executive Presence

In Baylor's Executive MBA program, students develop executive presence, one of the program's four Cornerstone Commitments, to become leaders who not only communicate well but inspire confidence, operate with integrity, collaborate and build connections.

"While our program has always integrated presentation skills throughout the curriculum, we took a fresh look at how we can help our students not just present well, but truly connect and inspire their audience—that's executive presence," notes Stacy McCracken, Director of Baylor Executive MBA program in Austin.

Baylor's Executive MBA students have numerous opportunities to practice this highly sought-after soft skill. "From orientation on Day 1 through the last class night, our students are challenged to communicate, present and engage in a variety of settings with diverse populations," says McCracken. "We build each cohort to be diverse—in terms of functional area, industry, background and experience. This mimics that global workforce and creates a classroom dynamic that truly strengthens our students' communication skills."

Experiential learning adds another layer of diversity, giving students a real-world laboratory in which to test their communication skills. Students in Baylor's Austin and Dallas Executive MBA programs travel together to Washington, D.C., and an international destination to expand their network. Through interactions with businesses and leaders of different cultures, economies and business practices, they deepen their ability to connect.

McCracken knows firsthand the power of strong, effective communication. She's employed it with great success over her 20-year career in multinational corporations. Now the leader of the Austin EMBA program at Baylor, McCracken tells prospective students that "an Executive MBA classroom is the perfect low-risk place to build and refine these skills."
 
These skills are central to everything—managing expectations, brokering deals, navigating change while fostering buy-in, motivating employees and inspiring vision—and it's not enough to have the right data or know the right people, she explains. If you can't deliver your message in an engaging way, you won't meet your goals.

Building a Curriculum with Relevant Skills

Every class in the EMBA curriculum offers the opportunity to find one's unique brand of executive presence.

The Executive MBA directors work with faculty on courses and programs to refine those real-world encounters and to pilot tools and workshops that further sharpen communication skills.

"There have been some great advances in using artificial intelligence to provide customized feedback on communication skills and storytelling," McCracken says. "We are using these tools in the curriculum to customize and individualize feedback to our EMBA students."

In courses like Financial Accounting, students practice conveying complex financial data and refining their storytelling skills.

"With the enormous amounts of data being collected and stored, it isn't enough to present that data," McCracken says. "It's vital to be able to quickly discern the most meaningful data, and then tell a story."

All students take Negotiating & Conflict Resolution, another durable skill, where they learn how to negotiate and create positive outcomes for all involved.

Skills for Global Communication & Your Next Steps

Communication isn't a nice to have skill; it is a business imperative in the 21st century.

According to Gallup, 64 percent of workers are disengaged in the workplace. Disengaged workers are cost U.S. companies an estimated $450-$550 billion per year, based on research from The Conference Board. Effective communication can help. Trade Press Services noted that 85 percent of employees are more engaged when internal communication is effective—workers in the top quartile of engagement, according to separate research from Gallup, impact the bottom line by 21 percent.

Ready to elevate your communication skills? An Executive MBA program can help you on your path to becoming a better leader through effective communication. Baylor University offers Executive Master of Business Administration and an Executive MBA with a concentration in Executive Communication at the Hankamer School of Business in two of Texas' key business and cultural hubs—in Dallas and in Austin. Reach out for a one-on-one consultation with our admissions advisers to learn more about each program. Complete the form below, and our team will contact you directly.

What's Next

Is an MBA in your future? To learn more about the Master of Business Administration offered at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, explore our detailed program page. Still have questions? Our admissions advisers can help you determine the best path forward. Complete the form below and our team will contact you directly.

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