I regularly meet technical experts such as doctors, geologists, pharmacists, engineers and architects, who have ascended to the level of independently leading projects in MNCs. For their next big step, they aspire to lead their organisations. However, they do not feel ready or confident. Why is it so?
The answer is simple. In most organisations, experts get promoted owing to their methodical approach, deep subject knowledge, and ability for simplifying technical problems. But do these factors prepare them to deal with the challenges of leadership? Not always. The truth is that most of these people struggle to inspire, coach, co-create, and build commitment towards a shared vision. Their technical skills and experience are undoubtedly indispensable to the leadership positions, but these are not enough to help them lead an organisation as a C-level executive. This is why, aspiring business leaders must adapt and advance — both their skills and perspectives — to manage personnel with different motivations, abilities, priorities and experiences. Despite having a successful experience in a technical role, if well-qualified individuals do not modify their mindset, they will end up under-performing and feeling frustrated.
Perpetual learning is a currency that works across all industries.
Wasim, a professional with a very successful career of over 15 years, was in a similar situation when I met him. Faced with the curveball of leading a team in a dynamic corporate setting, he succeeded in providing effective solutions to functional and technical problems, but struggled in offering structured opportunities and creating cohesion within his team. Consequently, he ended up performing his former technical tasks, while leading people who weren’t able to perform. Frustrated and exhausted, he failed to grow as a leader.
What Wasim needed was a platform that could consolidate his past experience and put it in a management framework. He had to learn to manage the conflicts, reverse the declining numbers, and develop the business plan for the upcoming years – things that his engineering degree and experience didn’t prepare him for. That’s when I recommended him to sign up for an executive master’s programme in management.
For people facing a similar situation in different industries, there are many options. MSc in Healthcare Management by Royal College of Surgeons Ireland in Dubai gives healthcare professionals deep-rooted insights into business processes, finance, operations management, and strategy.
The Master in Supply Chain Management programme by University of Wollongong, Dubai, does a similar job for people in the supply chain industry, while enhancing their leadership skills. Programmes such as the Master in Engineering Management by Middlesex University and Executive MBA by London Business School’s Dubai campus, INSEAD’s Abu Dhabi campus, Manchester Business School and SP Jain, combine in-depth technical knowledge with a multitude of personal attributes and business expertise.
The need for strengthening leadership and managerial skills applies to next-gen family-business entrepreneurs as well, who could benefit from tailor-made programmes such as the one offered by SP Jain School of Global Management.
For those aspiring to founding and leading their own ventures, a master’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship by the University of Wollongong in Dubai would be ideal as it would prepare them to craft a strong business plan that will capture the interest of investors.
Perpetual learning is a currency that works across all industries. So, no matter what your occupation is, or which stage you’re at, never stop learning. Make yourself so agile and dynamic that you can dodge any curveball that the modern business world throws at you.
—The writer is the Managing Director of Brighter Prep, a test preparation and admissions consulting company