Organizations that survived the pandemic had to address and meet new expectations amongst their employees; for example many wish to maintain the ability to work from anywhere, communicate digitally, address social change, and remain innovative. The companies who continued to thrive during COVID often already had cultures of resiliency and innovation which they were, quite simply, able to put to work.
In a recent study done by the AACSB, the results echoed this, 1
“Respondents believe leadership skills such as openness, empathy, resilience, and the ability to communicate will be of greater importance post-crisis. Pre-pandemic,13 percent would have pointed to resilience as a necessary leadership skill; post-pandemic, that number increases to 34 percent. Other front-runner competencies that will help leaders navigate the new normal are core humane skills such as altruism and mindfulness, according to respondents.”
Executive level leaders are taking stock of these changes, and rethinking how they lead, and more importantly how they select and develop the leaders of the future within their organizations. Future leaders have to be able to adapt to new ways of communicating and new markets, and be able to pivot quickly. They are looking for leaders who are proactive. While many up and coming leaders are able to navigate digitally, they still need to be engaged in communication training, as part of their leadership development. Things like appearing engaged and enthusiastic, and well prepared need to be transparent even on Zoom meetings. Companies are looking for emerging leaders who demonstrate those skills. They are also looking for employees who are open to moving up through different departments, and doing different tasks to get there. While the past may have given us defined career paths, the pandemic taught us that those who survive are willing to roll up their sleeves and dig in to learning (and doing) new things. In other words, being adaptable to change is critical.
Jason Moran, Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing, here at Juniata is seeing the same thing in college enrollment processes.
“No one came out of 2020 completely unchanged,” states Jason. “We are observing students inquire about broader programs of study where they can hone skills in critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving, and engage in innovative research. They are looking at the “whys” of advanced education opportunities. They want an education that will truly prepare them to navigate an ever-changing world versus pursuing a degree just for the credential.”
For Juniata, that means making sure students have the opportunity to pursue expanding programs like Organizational Leadership, a graduate program that prepares leaders for everything executives expect, and it means innovation in education. We are excited for that!
In many ways Juniata’s Organizational Leadership master’s degree program was designed for a time just like today. Organizational Leadership features our College’s distinctive expertise in conflict resolution, and enables you to earn a master’s degree that focuses on conflict and change, social entrepreneurship, collaborative partnerships, and the ability to think broadly about leadership in for-profit, nonprofit, and public sectors. That kind of proactive training is exactly what organizations are looking for.
Taking stock of surveys, like the one done by AACSB is critical. Survey respondents themselves note that the leadership development activities offered in business schools should expose them to multicultural experiences and help them build their global networks. 2 Graduate courses have to address these 21st century needs and strengthen students’ leadership abilities by exploring concepts, theories and real-life experiences of leading. Leaders must understand today’s challenges and be able to function effectively given a borderless, multicultural, virtual, and diverse group of partners, stakeholders and constituents.
The new breed of leaders are going to be open to taking a deep dive and exposing issues and breakdowns within organizations. They will not sweep issues under the rug for a later date. This type of leadership will come from today’s students. Doing so requires the ability to communicate with empathy and understanding, and to address the issues once exposed.
While the pandemic had a lot of negative effects, the resiliency it created is life altering. Programs like Organizational Leadership are for students looking to lead the charge.