June 1, 2022

Leadership. The mere concept has created a $366 billion industry, fostered certificate and degree programs, and inspired countless books, courses, and conferences. Ninety-five percent of organizations value and prioritize leadership training. It is touted far and wide as an essential element of upward career mobility in business management.

And yet, something isn’t working. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, internal and external leadership development programs frequently fail to encompass the full spectrum of challenges leaders face in the 21st century. In fact, 80 percent of those Deloitte surveyed reported that the importance of strategic leadership in the workplace outstrips leadership readiness in most organizations.

The problem clearly isn’t a lack of leadership development programs. There are plenty of those. The issue is the lack of leadership development programs that get results. According to research conducted by global management consulting firm McKinsey, only 7 percent of CEOs believe their businesses develop quality leaders. Just 10 percent believe internal organizational leadership development contributes to success. 

Why the gap between leadership development and successful leadership? While most leadership programs teach fundamental leadership concepts, they leave out two critical components of effective business leadership: self-awareness and reflection. Both are challenging to teach in abbreviated business education programs such as seminars and certificate programs because they take time to master.  

Savvy business people with career goals that involve transitioning into executive leadership roles often seek out MBAs for leadership. Graduate programs that emphasize essential leadership competencies do more than teach strategic management. Leadership MBA programs, such as the online MBA program offered by Butler University’s Lacy School of Business, nurture emerging leaders through hands-on guidance. Butler’s program integrates personalized leadership coaching with International Coaching Federation-certified coaches. Master of Business Administration candidates work with coaches for the duration of the 38-credit-hour program, not just in one or two core courses. 


If you’ve ever had a mentor, you know firsthand how invaluable mentor relationships are in domestic and international business settings. Mentors leverage their personal and work experiences as a framework to guide mentees through challenges. While there’s a limit to the guidance they can provide, the mentorship relationship may last years—if not a lifetime—as both mentor and mentee level up in their careers.

Personalized leadership coaching is similar to mentorship, but certified coaches bring added value to professional relationships. They may draw on their own experiences in business areas such as operations management or project management, but they also have a set of proven tools they can leverage to promote self-reflection, adaptation, and critical thinking in others. Leadership coaches don’t tell emerging leaders what to do; they empower them to think and problem-solve independently.

Simply put, mentors have the answers to your questions, while leadership coaches ask the questions that help you find the answers. This key difference between mentorship and leadership coaching nets quantifiable results. 


How can you hope to understand the people you manage or guide them through organizational change without understanding yourself? Self-awareness is by far the most critical component of effective business leadership. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and how those impact the way you interact with others is crucial to sound decision-making and teamwork.

MBA programs with highly personalized leadership coaching, like the online MBA at Butler University, are relatively uncommon, but it’s worth seeking one out. They teach students how to lead themselves first through both coursework and carefully customized guidance. Butler MBA candidates meet regularly with certified leadership coaches to hone self-leadership skills. They develop skills and qualities that impact leadership effectiveness, including:

  • Balance
  • Coalition-building skills
  • Communication skills
  • Courage
  • Focus
  • Presentation skills
  • Receptivity
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Self-evaluation

Mastering these and related competencies will help you inspire your teams and harness their talents to build a stronger organization.


According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching is a “thought-provoking and creative process that inspires [people] to maximize their personal and professional potential. The coaching process often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.” A good leadership coach doesn’t spoon-feed you knowledge; they empower you to reflect on your experiences and expertise to make your own decisions.

However, coaches are more than guides on a path of sound business practices and ethical decision-making, though that is a vital part of their role. Coaches are also sounding boards prepared to listen to your challenges so they can help you develop an action plan designed to guide your career forward.


Great leaders understand there’s no shame in not knowing something. The strength of strategic leaders lies in their willingness to educate themselves and apply that new learning to business leadership.

The online MBA program at Butler University combines theory and practice in traditional MBA courses and gives students additional opportunities for student-led experiential learning. For example, the MBA program’s day-and-a-half-long Gateway Experience activity that kicks off the first semester is intense and collaborative. Cohorts work together with actual companies to solve real leadership problems and, in the process, meet their leadership coaches, Lacy School of Business faculty, and peers. It’s a great way to hone in on what challenges may lie ahead for each student and create a tentative path toward addressing those challenges over the online MBA program.


In that same vein, effective leadership development programs help leaders refine the competencies that let them visualize solutions to unique organizational challenges. They develop a set of skills related to insight and intuition, and these skills get stronger with practice.

Butler’s online MBA capstone experience lets students put their evolving leadership skills to use with the support of coaches and the MBA program faculty. The semester-long project, centered around a five-year strategic plan crafted by students and presented to the executive committee for feedback, includes integrated advice and direction from leadership coaches. Students demonstrate what they’ve learned throughout the online MBA program and apply theory to practice to find solutions to real-world challenges.


Your leadership development journey is personal, and choosing an MBA for leadership coaching guarantees you’ll develop a broad and robust set of business leadership competencies. While there are several development touchpoints you’ll have to reach in every business school program, enrolling in an outstanding MBA degree program will give you the freedom and flexibility to address your present-day leadership challenges—and teach you to anticipate future ones.

To support ongoing professional development, the leadership coaches at Butler University created a unique Saturday Seminar series covering a wide range of topics. The goal of the series is to share advice and guidance related to challenges you may not have encountered yet. These topics include:

  • Gaining credibility and trust
  • Giving performance feedback
  • Delegating without abdicating
  • Managing managers for the first time

These extra opportunities to learn from coaches are invaluable when it comes to rounding out your leadership skills toolbox.


A Korn/Ferry Institute review of studies looking at the total impact of leadership coaching found that organizations across the board saw performance improvements, increased self-awareness and productivity, and more when their business leaders received this coaching.

  • 96 percent of organizations saw individual performance improvements after coaching.
  • 92 percent saw improvements in leadership and management effectiveness.
  • Close to 75 percent of professionals who underwent leadership coaching reported achieving their goals.

Butler’s leadership-focused online MBA program creates these outcomes through personalized coaching, as well as internships, co-ops, research with faculty mentors, and community engagement projects, while also empowering students in their professional journeys through flexible synchronous and asynchronous courses. The leadership coaching component of Butler’s MBA curriculum isn’t tied to the Leadership course. Instead, coaching is accessible and free for MBA students for the entirety of the program. MBA candidates at Butler are welcome to explore the full potential of this resource—one that few other MBA programs offer. 

If you’re ready to take the next step on your leadership journey, attend an upcoming webinar or apply to earn your MBA online at Butler today.