Use Education Benefits to Develop Business Leadership

By Kathleen Eischeid, Edcor Business Development Coordinator

Business leadership is more important than ever. In many businesses, employers and employees are physically separated so they need leadership that can help keep people connected. Developing leadership from within is one way to fill that need. Business teams still have goals and deadlines, and while many people are working remotely, individual team members need to self-motivate, accept responsibility and act to get things done. In short, employees must learn how to share the responsibilities of business leadership.

The coronavirus has changed how businesses operate. Businesses have had to act quickly in response to changes caused by the pandemic. They had to establish remote working capabilities for many employees. They had to develop new ways to deliver products and services to customers. In some cases, they had to shift production to create new products to meet the demands of the pandemic. For all of this to happen, and for businesses to continue responding to changes, employees must learn business leadership skills that help businesses be agile and make decisions quickly. In the McKinsey Report Reinventing the organization for speed in the post-COVID-19 era this is called “assign to the line” rather than “go to the top.”

For companies to assign to the line, they must have employees that are ready to take responsibility and put ideas into action. “That is, everyone working on a team must be clear about what needs to get done by whom, when, and why. Employees must also be equipped with the right skills and mindsets to solve problems, instead of waiting to be told what to do.” That means that employees need higher education that teaches them how to use new technology, apply critical thinking skills, communication skills and how to lead others. Using education benefits to develop business leadership skills in employees at different levels of the company means that a business is in a good position to adapt to a changing world and marketplace. “These companies recognize that the pace and scale of learning must keep up with that of innovation and changes in technology. Skills can and do expire. Organizations need people who can continually learn and adapt. In many cases, companies will need to  reskill large portions of the workforce.”

Reskilling large portions of the workforce can bring benefits to both employees and employers. While employees are working in a remote environment, many of them will have the opportunity to access online education. This is a good time for employees to establish lifelong learning habits and develop skills that move them into business leadership positions. Employees can learn together in cohort groups, formal or informal. They can access classes and educational opportunities that increase their skills and knowledge as a team. “If combined with virtual reflection forums, online learning can provide a growth environment where participants are not left alone in their journeys but instead can connect and learn socially with their peers.” From educational opportunities like these, employees will also learn to accept challenges, communicate with others and develop skills needed for business leadership.

When employees have increased access to education, businesses have the opportunity to increase their diversity among leaders. Tuition benefits and online learning opportunities make it possible for many minority employees to access education while they are working remotely. And encouraging employees to access education is a way for businesses to develop business leadership among employees from all areas of the company. Making the connection through education helps businesses ensure that their up-and-coming business leadership can reflect the demographic make-up of their company, and allows them to experience the higher earnings that diverse companies realize.

Tuition benefits are also a way for businesses to retain top talent during these unsettled times. Starting or continuing an education path can ensure that employees feel that they have a strong future and an opportunity to develop their careers. Strategic implementation of education benefits can help employees see how their education and work are related. When employees see the importance of their position to company goals, and understand how their talents are needed, they feel more connected to the company. They will recognize opportunities for growth and feel empowered to be part of business leadership.