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Developing Leadership Preparedness is No Longer Optional; It’s Necessary

As new modes of work emerge, learning leadership skills through traditional models is no longer enough for working professionals.

Dynamic business environments are lending to fast-paced work schedules, leaving nearly a third of working millennials, by some measures, feeling as though their leadership skills are underdeveloped. The traditional ways of cultivating leadership are no longer enough for the working professional to innovate the future of tomorrow.

Jerry Brightman, PhD, Tufts Gordon Institute Lecturer, is teaching “Leadership: Personal and Team Development” in the Online MS in Engineering Management program – enabling leadership development to be a multimodal experience both in and out of the classroom while providing one-on-one, data-informed analysis to each student.

According to Jerry, when developing leadership capabilities, “more and more in the workplace, leaders need to know that feedback matters to people. Not just a pat on the back, not just an annual review, but continuous feedback on a regular basis so that people know that all feedback is good.” 

Through individual coaching sessions and industry-leading tools from the Center for Creative Leadership, for example, students continuously refine their leadership abilities throughout their Online MSEM experience. “The skills that we have today may not be the skills necessary to compete tomorrow. Strengths overused could become a weakness,” said Jerry acknowledging industry research findings.

The Online Experience 

As the modern workplace becomes increasingly digital, Online MSEM students are leveraging their leadership development in conjunction with their virtual experience overall.

“All of the Online MSEM courses so far have opened my eyes to different parts of my company’s business. This allowed me to have conversations and make connections with individuals outside of my department to better understand our business strategy,” said Chris Brady, MSEM ’22. “The leadership course has given me the opportunity to open discussions with my boss and mentor about preparing for the next level, and I was immediately able to identify personal goals and objectives.”

Leadership has historically been regarded as an ability most easily taught in person. However, in the era of COVID-19 – in addition to workforces becoming increasingly globalized – executives and workers around the world are finding barriers to being able to lead through a virtual medium. With the Online MSEM program’s digital-first framework, that transition has been made easy.

“With an online program, a major concern is the level of personal interaction with professors and classmates, but the personal touch of the online program has exceeded my expectations, and I have gotten to know my professors and classmates very well,” said Chris.

Lucas Reeve, MSEM ’22, added, “[With the Online MSEM], I’ve connected with these professors on a personal level over Zoom almost more than I’ve ever connected with a professor in their class in a lecture hall.”

Building leadership competency is just one way the Online MSEM program is preparing students like Lucas for success. When enrolling in the MSEM program, Lucas knew that the experience would open his eyes to a holistic view of businesses. 

“You start building your technical knowledge to the point where you start asking questions of ‘Well, why do we do things this way or why do we do things that way?’ ‘Why are we building things like this?’ ‘Why do we have our process like this?’” said Lucas. “I started finding myself being more curious and I needed a place to learn, to get inside the heads of upper management, and to figure out what they were worried about on the floor.”
 
For some Online MSEM students, this mode of delivery not only provides flexibility around personal and professional commitments that don’t adhere to a set schedule, but it makes leadership development accessible in any situation.

“My current role can make my schedule unpredictable, so I needed a program that was flexible,” said Julia Bushell, MSEM ’22. “The semester has been great so far. I have met so many great people, and the work has been challenging but interesting and manageable. Balancing school with a full-time job can be difficult, but I feel like I have support from my peers and faculty to be successful.”

Whether it’s learning leadership or analyzing financial statements in the Online MSEM program, students are continuing to reach new academic heights. In the era of remote work, the ability to lead through digital means is becoming a greater need than ever and Online MSEM students are getting a front-row seat at it.