Do The Best Managers Have a Degree in Business or Experience?

The Best ManagersThe one overarching comment I would make to this question is the best managers today need more….of everything. You can’t pick your crisis. Rather than be trained, today’s managers need to be prepared.

No matter what the degree or experience, you will always get distinct styles based on an individual’s background and perspective.

Some say you don’t need an MBA or a degree at all to be a good manager. The Best Managers want to find out for themselves….

The idea that you don’t need a degree is short-sighted. After 25+ years in the manager’s chair along with ten years as a management coach, I have discovered there are no short-cuts, quick-fixes or silver bullets to management. Management is about people. It’s that simple and that complex. It’s a demanding role that is amorphous. Sometimes you’ll rely on experience, other times your training will come into play. But it’s always you who makes the difference. Thus, the best managers are always adapting, learning and growing.

Management continues to get more difficult, more complex and more challenging. And the demand for good managers continues to increase so the best managers would have depth in both areas, education and experience.

If you only have a degree, you may get hung up on theories.

You know, how solutions seem so easy as they are described in textbooks or through the perspective of academics. Management is described with flow charts, models, graphics that describe visually how to get beyond conflict, etc.. and how to build teams. But flow charts, models and textbooks are frozen, and the reality of the workplace is dynamic and constantly moving and changing. You’ll be frustrated and bewildered by the ineffectiveness of theory when applied. People don’t follow or react based on flow charts or models. In a particularly difficult situation, when things go awry, you’ll say, they didn’t talk about that in my training? A large part of “training” is experiential. Absorb it and learn everyday.

If you only have experience, you won’t have the academic background.

The history and familiarity of the major events that have shaped the management context we see today. Scientific Management, The Hawthorn experiments or the Contingency Approach to management communication—to name a few, have shaped and influenced the management climate we function in today. This background is critical if you are serious about management as a profession. Academic research provides ideas for how to approach classic, evergreen issues. You’re busy. You don’t have enough time to reinvent the wheel.

The Best Managers know that the individual holds the solution

With an open-minded approach to experiential training along with classroom training, you can learn to be a great manager. Learn, apply, repeat! Learn, apply, repeat for the long haul! As we already mentioned, you make the difference. Take initiative and ownership for your growth and development.

You may be saying to yourself, this will take longer.

But not really, not for everyone. Some people are short studies. Reframe the work aspect to and investment. Subordinate laissez-faire, hands-off, do nothing now for being prepared for anything. And that means in the face of difficulty, conflict and tension, you’ll operate with peace, freedom, well-being. Fear, anxiety, frustration will evaporate in the face of your increased knowing.

The beauty is you can learn, develop and grow while you make a difference. Either way, you really never stop learning when your goal is to be one of the best managers.  


Remember, if it’s worth having it’s worth working for.


There are as many situations as there are people. So, it’s time to get to it!


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© Brian Braudis 2019, All rights reserved

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