The 21st century has experienced many periods of economic instability and uncertainty, driven at different times by war in the Middle East, the Great Recession, the COVID-19 epidemic, a war in Europe, and, most recently, global inflation. Most experts don’t expect the turbulent times to end soon.

However, prepared business leaders can help guide organizations through times of economic uncertainty. Their leadership gives employees clear direction and support while navigating the economic storm. In times of economic transition, quality leadership and expertise in business strategy are more essential than ever.

Earning an online Master of Business Administration degree prepares aspiring business leaders for strategic leadership roles in a complex world. Graduates from the program have the skills and knowledge to meet the challenges of difficult economic times.

Management Trends in Strategic Business Leadership

One of the biggest challenges in strategic business leadership is finding the positive in a negative environment. For example, Forbes notes that the well-known acronym VUCA – volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous – is replaced by a more positive interpretation: vision, understanding, clarity, and agility (or adaptability).

Essentially, the idea is to find opportunity in every challenge. Forbes offers some strategic areas where leaders can apply this approach.

Sustainability and Energy Security

The war in Europe has shown that dependence on fossil fuels is a potential weakness for the United States and its European allies. Meanwhile, the cost of natural disasters continues to rise. The U.S. government offers ongoing support for businesses that invest in making their operations more sustainable and energy efficient. This an excellent time to establish a strategy that addresses sustainability in operations, supply chains, and products and services.

Investments in AI and Machine Learning

This trend is nothing new, but businesses have a renewed focus on AI and ML as technology continues to offer ways to operate more efficiently and effectively. The CHIPS Act, recently passed by Congress, is part of the renewed focus. The act provides $280 billion in government support for “reshoring” chip manufacturing (moving it back to the U.S. from foreign countries), investing in research and development, and strengthening software and hardware supply chains. Every business leader should investigate any opportunities the act creates for their business.

Engaging Employees

In an era of “quiet quitting” (doing just enough to accomplish the job) and difficulties retaining talented workers, business leaders do well to focus on engaging their employees. A recent Gallup poll highlights the significance of employee engagement. According to the survey, the ratio of engaged to disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade. Gallup concluded that “quiet quitters” comprise about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The Value of Leadership During Economic Transitions

Inspired leadership is more critical than ever amid these challenges. The skills learned in an MBA program prepare graduates for the issues and evolving demographics in the modern workplace.

One of the biggest management trends facing leaders is managing younger workers who no longer feel satisfied with only earning a good paycheck. They want an opportunity to feel engaged and involved. “That may sound self-indulgent to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers,” writes Todd Hirsch on LinkedIn, “but it’s the reality of the 21st century.”

Strategic leadership can make a difference. According to Forbes, more leaders than ever understand that 100 percent focus on short-term results is no longer an intelligent strategy. They must look at the long-term implication of today’s decisions, especially in vital areas like employee engagement, sustainability, and innovative technology.

NMU’s Online MBA Program

NMU Online offers an MBA program that supports business leaders as they prepare to take on these challenges. The NMU program features asynchronous and synchronous online courses designed for working professionals, with accelerated courses and seven different start dates throughout the year.

Graduate students learn strategic management for the modern workplace. Core courses in the MBA program also cover organizational structures, marketing strategy, managerial accounting, and financial analysis and management. Students also can choose from the following elective courses:

  • Managerial Communications
  • Business Law and Ethics
  • Management Information Systems
  • Business Statistics
  • Quantitative Decision-Making

During an economic transition like the one the world is currently experiencing, MBA graduates are better prepared than their peers to provide effective leadership. That makes them in demand in businesses and organizations across all sectors.