Higher education is designed to prepare you for a range of career paths by teaching field-specific knowledge and skills, as well as transferable skills that can be applicable to other fields. If you’re eager to pursue a career in business and management, there are many important business management skills you can actively work on developing while in college and beyond.
These types of skills for business management may align with the requirements for entry-level jobs in a corporate environment, as well as lay a foundation for pursuing career advancement after gaining some experience. Servant leadership, communication and project management are a few examples of common business management skills.1
In This Blog:
- Soft Business Management Skills
- Hard Business Management Skills
- Tips for Building Business Management Skills
- Preparing for the Future
Soft Business Management Skills
No matter which specific career path you decide to pursue, you may benefit from developing a blend of soft and hard skills. Soft skills are commonly seen as characteristics or personality traits, such as those that affect how you communicate and interact with others, as well as how you handle various challenges. Let’s take a closer look at some soft business manager skills.
Do you envision yourself climbing the corporate ladder to one day manage a team, a department or even an entire company? Leadership skills are important for all types of leaders — inside and outside the corporate world — and in all industries and niches.
What exactly is leadership? It can be defined by many characteristics and actions, but typically, a leader is someone who inspires others to work toward achieving their true potential. Leaders may delegate responsibilities, and they may be charged with clearly communicating the overall vision and direction of the organization.
If you decide to earn a business and management degree, one of the topics you may examine is the different types of leadership styles, such as authoritative, transformational and participative leaders. One leadership style that can benefit all types of organizations and employees is servant leadership.2
A servant leader embraces the idea that they serve their employees and other stakeholders, not vice versa. Servant leaders seek to empower employees, promote the well-being of all, encourage innovation and serve as a steward of the organization.3 Here at GCU in the Colangelo College of Business, we emphasize the importance of servant leadership. Servant leadership is the first of the three pillars in the foundation of the College of Business.
Other critical business management skills include effective communication skills. No matter what job title you ultimately pursue after college, you can benefit from strong communication skills. You might think that effective communication skills only involve being able to speak clearly to other people, but they also involve active listening, written communication and nonverbal communication. For example, an active listener is one who pays close attention to what the other person is saying and seeks to identify nonverbal cues that may enhance understanding.3
In addition, you may find it useful to develop skills and strategies for building and maintaining strong relationships with customers or clients. These customer engagement skills might also be applicable to building relationships with suppliers, vendors and other stakeholders.
In any type of job, it is likely that you’ll need to communicate clearly with coworkers, supervisors and customers or clients. You may be called upon to speak up during meetings or perhaps give a formal presentation of a project you’ve been working on. If you pursue career advancement later down the road, you’ll likely need to delegate tasks and responsibilities to your team, which will also require effective communication skills.
Adaptability is essential. Organizational change is inevitable no matter what industry you may be in. New technologies will become available, trends in the industry will come and go and new laws may be passed that can alter compliance requirements. Employees and managers need to be sufficiently adaptable to change with the times while preserving the organization’s core values, vision and mission.
Hard Business Management Skills
As you can see from the above list, soft business management skills tend to be transferable to a broad range of fields and positions. Some hard skills — also called technical skills — are also transferable, but they tend to be more narrowly focused on a field or specialization. Here’s a look at some hard business management skills that may prove useful for your future.
Financial literacy is often an important business management skill. Employees may be required to stay within a project budget for the work they’re doing with their team, and managers may be tasked with establishing and tracking a team-wide or departmental budget. As a business student, you may have opportunities to take classes that teach fundamental financial competencies, such as accounting, statistics and business finance.
Marketing and Customer Engagement
Businesses may rely on marketing and customer engagement to boost sales and drive revenue. One leadership style that can benefit all types of organizations and employees is servant leadership.4 Even if you aren’t planning on becoming a marketing professional, it may be helpful to explore the basics of developing and implementing a marketing plan.
Project management involves planning, organizing and managing a project in a way that satisfies the project’s aims and stays within the project budget — all while completing the project on time. This might seem fairly simple, but project management can actually be rather complex. In fact, some professionals specialize entirely in project management methodologies and techniques. Professionals in this field tend to get the Project Management Professional Certification (PMP).5 GCU offers an online Graduate Certificate in Project Management that prepares students for the PMP test.
Professionals who are tasked with project management must help their team navigate the phases of initiation, planning and execution — the project management lifecycle. Throughout the project management lifecycle, professionals must often contend with challenges, such as expenses that threaten to go over budget, team members who have trouble working well with each other and clients who may decide to change their expectations or goals in the middle of the project.6
Tips for Building Business Management Skills
Being a student can be exciting because of the potential possibilities ahead of you. The choices you make now may influence your future, so take a few steps to work on building strong business management skills.
Of course, if you’re a business and management student, you will take coursework designed to foster the development of soft skills such as communication and leadership abilities, as well as hard or technical skills like financial competencies, project management and marketing. However, there are additional steps you can take beyond working through the curriculum for your degree program.
For example, you may have opportunities to practice leadership skills on campus. Look for activities and clubs that align with your interests. Participate in these groups for a year or two, and then look to step into leadership positions within them when their current leaders graduate and move on.
Some on-campus clubs may even potentially foster business management skills. For example, joining a debate club would allow you to practice your communication skills.
Another example for working adults could consist of volunteering for committee work within your organization. You could talk to your supervisor about being assigned special projects to build experience. Even seeking out a mentor is helpful in learning and building your business management skills.
Preparing for the Future
In addition to participating in relevant campus extracurriculars, you can work on preparing for the future by pursuing volunteer positions and internships while you’re still a student. Visit your school’s career services department to request help finding local internship opportunities in your area of study.
You might be able to obtain a part-time internship during a school semester or a full-time internship during the summer break. Regardless, an internship can allow you to put what you’ve been taught into practice, as well as provide opportunities to build your professional network.
The Bachelor of Science in Business Management, offered by the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University, is designed to teach crucial skills for business management. Enjoy a supportive learning community and opportunities to explore conscious capitalism — business with a higher purpose — as an online or on-campus student at GCU. Fill out the form at the top of your screen to explore this degree and other business and management degree options at GCU.
1 Bert, J. (2023, June 30). 7 Skills Used by Effective Team Leaders in the Workplace. Indeed. Retrieved on Nov. 29, 2023.
2 Louveau F. (n.d.) Servant leadership: What type of leader are you? EHL Insights. Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2023.
3 Kenton, W. (2023, Aug. 23). Servant Leadership: Characteristics, Pros & Cons, Example. Investopedia. Retrieved on Nov. 29, 2023.
4 Chatfield, E. (2023, June 2). How customer marketing can be used to impact the revenue and sales cycle. Customer Marketing Alliance. Retrieved on Nov. 29, 2023.
5 Project Management Institute. (n.d.) Project Management Professional (PMP). Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2023.
6 Indeed Editorial Team. (2022, Oct. 18). What Is Project Planning? (And How To Plan a Project). Indeed. Retrieved on Nov. 29, 2023.
Approved by the academic program manager of the Colangelo College of Business on Dec. 8, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.