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What an MBA Does Not Teach You About Management 

Written by CB Community

Higher education has irrefutable benefits. There is no denying that going to school and earning an MBA is an admirable feat.

However, not everything can be learned in a classroom, and there are certain life lessons that an MBA does not teach business students about management. 

Business administration students who are preparing for a career in management should be looking into tips and tricks on how to develop good management and leadership skills. It is smart to prepare for real-world situations because textbooks or lectures will not cover most of them.

But don’t worry! This article includes all you need to know:

What Is an MBA?

Before we dive into the life lessons that an MBA does not teach students about management, it only makes sense to define an MBA and its intended purpose.

An abbreviation for a Master of Business Administration, an MBA degree is a graduate degree that prepares individuals for job positions in management.  

Some people view an MBA as a final destination and do not go on to complete additional schooling. Other people view an MBA as a stop along the way.

After earning their Master of Business Administration degree, they continue to pursue their studies and aim for a PhD. 

Whether an MBA is the end goal or a stepping stone to another degree, students who earn an MBA are typically planning to work in business or a management-related industry.

Other roles that people with an MBA are well-suited for include any type of top-level management position, like a CEO, CFO, or company president in their respective field.  

On average, it takes students two years to complete an MBA program. However, this is usually only the case if students are able to commit to a full-time course load. Factors like availability in their schedules or the affordability of a graduate degree can cause students to take longer to complete an MBA program. 

For business administration students working towards an MBA on a part-time basis, the programs take about four years to fully complete.

On the other end of the spectrum are students who have opted in to an accelerated MBA program, in which case their programs last anywhere from eleven to sixteen months to complete with a full-time course load. 

3 Lessons an MBA Does Not Prepare Students For

No matter how long it takes students to complete their MBA program successfully, there are certain things no amount of homework, assignments, or seminars can teach.

Like any job, positions in management roles will teach lessons that managers can only learn through experience.

Today, there are three critical lessons to discuss, but they all revolve around the same theme: an MBA does not teach students how to be a good manager.  

An MBA program teaches students the tools to successfully manage an office, business, company, and anything of the like.

However, these programs often overlook the specific details that make managers personable, well-liked, and respected. 

Here are three insights into how to be a good manager:

1. Be Accessible and Available to the Team 

A very important characteristic necessary to cultivate great leadership is accessibility. Team members need to know that they can turn to their managers at a moment’s notice.

Managers are leaders, and as such, they must connect with the people they are leading. However, being accessible is not enough.

Managers must also be available. An accessible manager who lacks availability is a facade.

When managers incorporate both accessibility and availability into their personalities, team members not only know that they can reach out to managers when needed but they are also able to actually reach their managers in those moments. 

2. Effective Communication is a Must

Communication is a major component of management job roles. Without solid communication skills, managers will not thoroughly and effectively communicate with other staff members, which can create huge problems down the line. 

There are many reasons why communication is a necessary part of management, one of which being communication ensures that managers can properly relay information to team members.

The team will then execute tasks that are aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. 

When managers can communicate effectively and team members can perform tasks that carry out the information communicated by their managers, productivity levels increase, too.

With effective communication, managers lower the likelihood of project revisions, meaning everyone will spend less time on projects and move onto others faster. 

3. Focus on the Outcome Above All Else

In today’s world, the media pushes the message that what we get out of situations is a direct result of what we put into them.

While in certain circumstances this mantra rings true, it is often misleading for people in managerial roles. 

When striving to understand how to be a good manager, managers should not prioritize the inputs or the outputs associated with their roles in the workplace.

Input refers to the energy they exert into their jobs, such as the number of hours worked or the amount of flexibility they extend. 

Output is directly linked to the input. For instance, if the input is the number of hours worked, then the output would be the tangible work produced from the hours worked.

Similarly, if the input has greater flexibility, the output would have a lower turnover rate. 

There are endless examples of inputs and outputs in the workplace. However, as we mentioned above, they should not be a manager’s main focus.

Instead, they are better off prioritizing the outcomes of various inputs and outputs. 

In other words, be strategic and intentional rather than reactive. Managers are encouraged to define the precise outcome that they want to create.

Then, work backward to brainstorm how to bring the desired outcome to fruition.  

The Bottom Line 

All in all, an MBA teaches students the foundation of management roles.

However, an MBA program will not inform students that accessibility is key, effective communication is a must, and copying other managers isn’t the answer.

These are skills that managers acquire through experience in the workplace. 


That’s because these are real-world lessons that graduates come to understand after they begin managing teams, organizing schedules, and delegating tasks, among many other managerial roles. Don’t be afraid to learn along the way. That’s how the best managers are made. 


About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.