Complementary Skills are Key to Team Success for MBA Students, Grads

MBA soft skills

More than a fifth of MBAs feel that half of the teams in which they’ve worked have not succeeded due to a lack of complementary skills, ground-breaking research from the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and The GC Index® has found.

The first global study of its kind, surveying 865 MBA students and graduates, found that MBAs are diverse when it comes to the contribution they make to team dynamics, despite gaining the same business qualification. The study looked at the ideas of influence within collaborative teams as well as leadership, conflict and defining the individual strengths that lead to shared success.

The GC Index doesn’t measure personality type or leadership qualities; instead, it focuses on an individual‘s preferred contribution style to a role or a company. The GC Index has identified five roles that contribute to team success:

  • The implementers
  • The game changers
  • The strategists
  • The polishers
  • The play makers

In terms of self-identification:

  • 27% of MBAs believe themselves to be ‘implementers’ (moving into action to get things done)
  • 22% of MBAs perceive themselves to be ‘game changers’ (bringing original ideas to people)
  • 21% of MBAs say they are ‘strategists’ (setting a direction for others to follow)
  • 18% of MBAs identify as ‘polishers’ (improving other people’s ideas and raising quality standards)
  • 12% of MBAs say they are ‘play makers’ (getting everyone to work together)
The study shines a light on key issues affecting team performance in the workplace, namely having a combination of skills and clarity around how these skills complement each other.

Participants were asked to state how often they felt their teams had the right make-up for success. Just three in 10 believed that their teams had the right make-up for success more than three-quarters of the time.

Almost half of the participants said their teams had the skills and individuals to succeed between 50% and 75% of the time. Meanwhile, 22% of respondents said that less than half of the teams in which they’d been a part of had the right personality and skills dynamics to succeed.

‘This research shows that student and graduate MBAs see themselves as having different styles of leadership,” said Will Dawes, Research and Insight Manager at AMBA. “This indicates that Business Schools enroll future leaders onto MBAs who may have varying approaches as leaders, or that MBA programmes influence students to think about themselves in different ways.”

Dr John Mervyn-Smith, Chief Psychologist at The GC Index, explained it this way: “The key to achieving long-term success is to transform individual action into collective power. In order to do this effectively, you need to not only understand how you can best contribute and make an impact but also how other team members make their impact – only then will you be able to place them in the right roles and right environments.”

“The GC Index shows we all have a role to play at some point in successful teams, whether we are an Implementer, Strategist, Play Maker, Game Changer or Polisher. We just need to know when and how to make a contribution.”

Photo Credit: Solent Creatives (CC BY 2.0)
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