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Executive Leadership Skills You Develop in a DBA

While trends and technologies change from year to year, one thing remains consistent in business: strong executive leadership skills make a positive difference in the workplace. From increased revenue to improved employee engagement, leadership capabilities such as communication skills and emotional intelligence go a long way in setting a company up for sustainable success. 

Recent research shows that effective leadership benefits people and profits alike:

  • Over 95 percent of employees who understand their company’s leadership mindset say that their company is on the right track.
  • Companies are 3.4 times more likely to be rated a best place to work if they develop leaders in critical leadership skills, employ people-forward talent practices, implement a standardized leadership model across the organization, focus on promoting leaders internally and offer high-quality development opportunities across all levels.
  • Trust in leaders is linked to higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

Studies also reveal that today’s executive leaders need strong business intelligence (BI) skills. As BI enhances its capacity to gather and analyze data to generate meaningful insights, companies need technologically savvy leaders who know how to ask the right questions of their organization’s datasets. In doing so, business professionals can enhance the performance of the companies they lead. 

As company leaders continue to navigate the work-from-home revolution, encounter rapidly advancing digital solutions and seek to implement business practices that model equity and inclusion, the need for executive leadership skills grows more important. Many professionals choose to develop these essential skills through a Doctorate of Business Administration degree program. 

Consider two examples of individuals who have participated in a DBA program, each of whom shares the leadership capabilities they’ve grown in as a result. Then, explore five leadership capabilities necessary for modern business leaders—each of which professionals can develop through a DBA program.


How a DBA Advances Culture and Careers Alike

When corporate professional Stacey Morin considered how she could enhance her career, the DBA program at Marymount University stood out for more reasons than one. First, she was drawn to the program’s emphasis on business analytics. Recognizing the importance of digital literacy in modern business, courses such as Maximizing Digital Transformation drew her to the program. 

Morin also appreciated the program’s intentional approach to diversity in the student body. As someone who highly values equity and inclusion in her personal and professional life, Morin saw the DBA as an opportunity both to experience diversity and grow in her approach to leading diversification efforts in the workplace. 

As a student, Morin immediately began applying the business analytics skills she developed through her courses when making business decisions and developing strategies as a corporate executive. 

Similarly drawn to the intersection of business and technology that the Marymount DBA offers, finance professional Jennifer Bates notes that her favorite part of the program is interacting with a diverse population of students and professors. This diversity of perspectives, Bates says, is key in learning how to “bridge the gap between what we are learning and how we can apply it day-to-day.” 

Bates also says that the DBA program builds the skill of lifelong learning, which is necessary in today’s ever-evolving marketplace. Coursework in applied research, strategic leadership in dynamic environments, and organizational management has helped Bates develop the agility and intellectual curiosity necessary to lead at the highest level. 


5 Skills Professionals Can Develop in a DBA Program

Today’s leaders need both hard and soft skills to succeed in the workplace. A DBA program offers the opportunity to develop both types of leadership capabilities as professionals apply academic insights to real-world challenges. Whether managing a digital transformation or considering how to improve company culture, individuals who participate in a DBA program will find themselves well-equipped to lead positive change as they leverage the following five skills. 


1. Change Management 

While change is inevitable, everyone—and every organization—responds to it differently. One of the biggest predictors of how a company will handle internal shifts or external factors is the strength of its leadership. Research shows that leaders who focus on communication, collaboration and a commitment to persisting through challenges are more likely to navigate change successfully. 

Through research, theory evaluation and strategic plan development, DBA students discover how to manage organizational change effectively. They consider how senior executives can act as agents of change to foster growth and sustain a competitive advantage. By designing strategy implementation plans for specific organizations connected to their field of interest, students learn how to manage change in the real world. 


2. Business Intelligence 

As many organizations trade their office building leases for laptops and Zoom meetings, there’s a marketplace-wide emphasis on technology. Technology isn’t just changing where people work, though; it’s changing how they work, what they work on and even why they work. Modern business leaders do not have to be technology experts to succeed, but they do need a solid understanding of the digital tools available in the workplace today. Since those tools are ever-evolving, agility and a posture of lifelong learning must also be among their leadership capabilities when it comes to business intelligence. 

Through a DBA program, business professionals can learn how to work with business intelligence and artificial intelligence and how to research, collaborate and leverage digital tools in an ongoing manner. Courses like Using Data for Business Intelligence, Maximizing Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence Applications include hands-on interactions with state-of-the-art tools and techniques and nuanced discussions of technology strategy, ethics and purpose. 


3. Ethical Decision-Making 

In an increasingly fast-paced world, leaders must make many choices very quickly each day. While data analysis and solid team-building can go a long way in this effort, each leader must have a robust and ethical mindset that can serve as a foundation. Business leaders agree—93 percent of them say that workplace ethics have the greatest impact on an organization’s success. 

Developing ethical solutions to complex business problems, learning how to apply ethics to the field of technology, and defining ethical behavior are all part of DBA coursework. For example, in a course called Ethical Leadership for Success in Uncertain Times, students examine ethical theories and concepts applied to leadership challenges in real-world situations, across both business and government. The coursework guides students in building the ethical foundation that will inform their personal and professional practices in a changing business landscape.


4. Strategic Thinking

Research is clear: organizations whose executives have strong strategic thinking leadership capabilities regularly outperform their competitors. A McKinsey study found that companies with well-honed strategic thinking skills implemented into their workplace are 3.5 more likely to be top performers than their peers. From setting clear goals and objectives to developing plans that address or mitigate risks, strategic thinking sets leaders and companies on the path to success. 

In courses such as Strategy in a Changing Business Climate, DBA students assess the implications of strategic management in dynamic environments. They consider how to develop action-based strategies to create a competitive advantage and examine leading theories of organizational strategy. Additionally, DBA students discover how to formulate strategies that integrate business, innovation, leadership and technology. 


5. Collaborative Communication

Top-notch communication and presentation skills are a critical component of effective executive leadership. Rather than simply communicating along downward organizational lines, innovative leaders practice collaborative communication skills that emphasize sharing ideas and opinions, finding common ground and ensuring that everyone is committed to the same mission, vision and plan for bringing them to fruition. 

The DBA environment prepares collaborative communicators by facilitating such an environment throughout the program. Students interact frequently with their peers and professors through conversations about practical research applications in the workplace. Through coursework and peer interactions, professionals develop their abilities to communicate research findings in both oral and written forms. 


Develop Executive Leadership Skills and Advance Your Career with a DBA from Marymount University Online

Do you want to develop the leadership capabilities that will empower you to take the next step in your career? 

Marymount University Online designed its online Doctorate of Business Administration in Business Intelligence for professionals like you. This flexible, 100 percent online program prepares leaders to drive success and generate positive change in nonprofits, government agencies, organizations and corporations through dynamic coursework and collaboration.

DBA student Ihab Marcus sheds light on how the Marymount Online DBA in BI enhances his professional career:

“Not just is the curriculum and the content that we're learning exciting, motivating, challenging and cutting-edge, but it's extremely applicable immediately,” explains Marcus. “I found that from the things that I was learning literally within the first few weeks, I was able to apply them to my work. I was able to expand what I was doing at work and bring those benefits to the workplace and to my job immediately.”

Discover how you can bring similar benefits to your workplace and career. Become a BI expert with a DBA in BI from Marymount University Online.

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