When you think about business school, an image of stuffy lecture rooms and boring textbooks may pop into your mind. But getting your MBA is an entirely different experience, especially when you get your MBA 100% online. You learn how brands you love are doing what they do to succeed and how you can build your own amazing brand. The MBA skills you get during this time make you more effective at business and life. Check out these eight essential skills you probably never thought you would get from an MBA:

1. Network the Smart Way

You already have networking skills. Getting your MBA helps you take them to a whole new level. You’ll build a network of smart people around you who know and do many different things. Find people with strengths where you have weaknesses and vice versa.

MBA skills include networking with influencers and people who get stuff done in various industries to create mutually beneficial partnerships. You can ethically leverage these to advance your career, start a new business, become a Shark Tank-style venture capitalist—whatever it is you want to do. It’s your life.

During an MBA program, you’ll typically attend events (online or in-person) and gain skills for working with others. You’ll learn how to listen to your network partners’ needs and create win-wins that strengthen those partnerships.

2. Stand Up for What You Believe

You know what’s right and wrong and how you deserve to be treated. But it’s not always easy when people are trying to shut you down.

MBA skills include techniques for dealing with those tense situations when people are playing mind games or using their voice to shame or overwhelm you. You learn how to find common ground, make a case, and even persuade someone to think differently.

You also explore the value of listening to others and staying open-minded to learn about other perspectives.

3. Stay Cool Under Pressure

Whether you start a business or become a leader in an existing one, business and pressure go hand in hand. People must be accountable for deadlines and results. The pace of work in some companies can be exhausting. But you learn how to manage the stress effectively to stay calm and get stuff done even when life turns up the heat.

This is essential not only for business but for your health and happiness. When you know how to manage pressure, you find balance in life to enjoy work and play equally.

4. Become an Expert Trouble-Shooter

While you’re working on your MBA, professors present you with seemingly impossible problems. You will draw from what you know and what you can learn to solve these problems. You’ll see how to strategically approach even the most complex issues to eliminate what won’t work quickly and get to the best solution fast. Test it. And run with it.

5. Develop Strategic Research Skills

These days, we’re on information overload. Companies are collecting endless amounts of data about customers, competitors, and more. But they’re only able to use a fraction of it to improve customer experience, dominate their competitors, and grow their businesses.

That’s because making data-driven decisions is not just about collecting more data. MBA skills include understanding how to analyze data and understand what it’s telling you. Then you can use it to make forward-thinking decisions.

Research is also about making sure you’re getting data from the most reliable sources. That’s not always easy. The most popular choice isn’t always the more truthful one. You learn how to spot conflicts-of-interest, hidden agendas, bias, and other factors that cloud data.

6. See Best Practices in Action

MBA textbooks aren’t stuffy or boring. Classes are filled with real examples from top-performing brands you know and love. You learn how popular, successful brands of today and yesteryear got where they are. There’s no one way to run a business, but there are things that work and things that don’t. You’ll explore the unscripted, real-world examples found all around you.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. You’ll never look at brands you encounter in life the same way again. You’ll understand what’s going on behind the scenes.

7. Communicate for Every Situation

In business, effective communication will make or break success. You need to be able to communicate in writing, but also in person (which includes Zoom meetings).

If you communicate poorly, you won’t be understood. The people around you will get things wrong. Projects will need to be redone. That costs a company money, and it lowers employee morale.

When working on your MBA, you learn how to communicate across situations.

When giving instructions or an update, for example, you need to be as concise as possible while still clearly expressing ideas. You’ll learn a specialized business language that helps you communicate ideas in the fewest words when speaking to a business audience… ROI, CLV, COGS, etc.

When the situation requires a laid-back or empathetic writing style, you’ll know when it’s time to make that transition. For example, if your employee just lost a loved one, you would change your tone and word usage. If, in an employee review, you need to communicate poor job performance, that is yet another speaking or writing style.

By the time you complete your MBA, you will feel confident that you always know how to communicate in a situation.

8. Motivate and Lead

Do you want to be a leader that people respect and follow? You must learn how to motivate people.

This requires you to assess what makes people want to do certain things.

Motivations can be generational. A Gen Z employee will often, and naturally, respond differently than a Gen Xer or a Boomer or even a Millennial. Motivation is also very individual. You’ll learn how to read people, including those who report to you as well as your business peers, clients, and your boss.

You can then speak their language to achieve great things together as a team.

MBA Skills for Life

Each of these skills is vital for business. But you’ll also use them throughout your life. Better communication. Better problem-solving. Standing up for what you believe. Vetting your sources of information. Becoming more effective at everything you do!

When you get your MBA at The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, you practice all of these skills and more. And you can do it in the 100% Online MBA or the Flexible MBA program.

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