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Your MBA demeanour can forge a channel to success

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Being nasty is not suitable in any situation, frankly, although we have all certainly been there ourselves. An unpleasant disposition will simply not work effectively for you, or for those around you. It can cost you both in grades and career success. An able and effective MBA student is one who can function well in a group. Being nasty is just not “in”.

World-class MBA programmes have a great deal of group-work embedded into the course curriculum. When I was an MBA student, many of my courses involved group work and collaborative projects. Now, nearly all of those I teach involve a substantial amount of group activity; the go-it-solo MBA course is rarely found. Clearly, with so much group-work, the level of your group skills and your social conduct will most certainly affect your course grades.

However, even well after graduation, your social demeanour throughout your MBA coursework may significantly affect the realised worth of your degree. The relationships you formed during your MBA experience may either fizzle immediately after graduation or possibly last your entire professional career. Whichever outcome you experience greatly depends upon how you conducted yourself socially during the time of earning your degree.

If you socially integrated into your work-groups, bonded with other students, and purposefully cultivated relationships with other students and faculty, you can expect your MBA experience to provide tangible benefits throughout your career. Having a nasty personality, treating classmates abrasively, having poor social skills, or simply ignoring the opportunity to bond with others, likely not only results in lower grades, but also leaves a great deal of MBA benefit on the table after you graduate.

Many graduates refer to their personal access to fellow alumni as an MBA benefit, but this dividend does not come automatically. Access to the graduate network comes only from investing your socially-focused energy during your time on the programme. Essentially, your social conduct is a lever that can transform your MBA investment from providing merely an “education” into becoming your “channel” to greater success.

Dr Terrill L. Frantz

Assistant Professor of Management and Director of Global Development, Peking University

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