What are extraordinary leaders made of?

12.04.2018 | | HELBUS

A good leader seems almost a mythical creature, of whom there is a lot of talk but few proven observations. A consensus definitely exists: more good leaders should be raised. Raised? Yes, people are not born good leaders but they grow into such.

We have put together some components of what it takes to become an extraordinary leader in today’s business world and how an MBA-programme can help develop those aspects.


Behind every good leader is… an MBA programme

– What you get is what you give. A leader is more of a shepherd than a guide, meaning that they should show direction more than give instructions. It feels as if most of Finland is still lead in very traditional style, where the leader instructs their subordinates of regular targets. Actually, teams and companies should set their goals together and the leader should engage the whole team in reaching those goals. / Pasi K

– In MBA-studies huge value is derived from learning from our peers.  The assignments in the MBA-programme are very practical and force us to think out of the box. I feel more prepared for the role of a leader, because in addition to the knowledge I’ve acquired, my self-confidence and communication skills have improved dramatically – both professionally and personally. / Shkelqesa J

– The programme has shown how important the support from the whole team is for success. The MBA-programme has indeed helped me develop as a leader by teaching me how to think and communicate like a true business professional. / Demi P

– Modern leadership increasingly means the skill of empowering others to take decisions and operate independently. Leaders should not only ensure strategic and change management but also mentor subordinates into that direction. The modules in the MBA are perfect for researching and understanding the demands of modern leadership also in Finland, where there seem to be huge differences in managing start-ups and more established companies, and where leadership often seems to be stuck in the 1960s. / Juuso B

While hearing out our MBA-students, two ideas stand out: extraordinary leadership is a skill that can be learned, and it is not something that emerges from the isolation of a management corner room.

Here are the three cornerstones from our team of extraordinary MBA-instructors of what leadership is about in the 2020s and how an MBA programme can be of service:


1. Facilitate

“I believe that the role of leaders is more and more that of a “facilitator”, who should be responsible for creating within his team an atmosphere where multiple perspectives can emerge, that is open to novelty, where attention is directed to processes and operations, and where there is autonomy and responsibility.”

With machines replacing jobs so fast it is urgent to focus more and more in activities that involve human relations and interactions with others, that apply expertise in decision-making and problem-solving, and that require critical and creative thinking and analysis.

Here is why the MBA is so important.  Not only by developing knowledge and expertise but especially by training skills like creativity, critical thinking, critical analysis and complex problem solving. This in my opinion is crucial in 21st century management and leadership. Suzana Vasconcelos Tavares, MBA-instructor


2. Understand the wider context and the human factor

“Leadership and management already belong intimately together as leadership is taking on a more holistic approach.” 

Similarly, management is adopting a more human approach going beyond mere efficiency and effectiveness metrics, reflecting a change in priorities and the needs of society, brought about largely by millennials. The human factor of management (there is an emerging school called “humanistic management”, for example) calls for a new understanding of leadership as well.  

Leadership should be considered through all subjects of any MBA programme, while forming an individual subject alone, too. Similarly, all teaching in an MBA programme should have a managerial approach. If an MBA can offer this combination together with relevant content that offers skills for proper decision-making, then it indeed can respond to the challenges of the 21st century.Santiago Martinez, MBA-instructor


3. Recognise the essential

“One of the critical success factors of leaders in today’s world, where the flow of information can be overpowering, is to identify the essential from non-essential.” 

What critically evaluated research and empirical evidence exists that leader can base their decisions on? How can leaders use that information to challenge convention and choose informed solutions to various issues in business? How can they move from conceptual to lateral thinking and beyond, and stay at the forefront of latest research vis-a-vis their own business and competence areas?

The MBA seeks to combine critical thinking and a sound academic approach to business situations enabling the participants to stand out with a high level of confidence in challenging leadership situations. For example, the module Critical Issues in Business seeks to do just that, synthesising and critically analysing recent academic literature on leadership competencies and related themes. Katariina Nuotio, MBA programme leader


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