What Makes Leadership in Business So Important?

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Business executive leads meeting to discuss with his colleagues

A leader’s influence reverberates throughout an entire organization. This influence can contribute to a clear vision and sense of purpose among employees — or to cynicism and a lack of direction regarding company objectives. Good leadership can powerfully foster camaraderie and teamwork, while poor leadership can encourage undercutting behavior that runs counter to the greater good of an organization’s bottom line and corporate culture. Great leaders inspire trust because they value others’ talents and abilities, create an environment of open communication and cultivate a shared vision for their companies through collaboration. This in turn leads to creativity, cooperation and retention within a business. The significance of good leadership in business, therefore, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Management vs. Leadership

The outdated authoritarian view of leadership no longer suffices in today’s workplace. In the past, the most common management style centered on a single person assigning tasks, then evaluating them with limited input from others during the process. The concern for a team’s level of trust and morale didn’t factor in considerably either. As Liz Ryan explains in her Forbes article “Management vs. Leadership: Five Ways They Are Different,” instead managers treated team members like machine parts to manipulate in the process of accomplishing a task. Managers expected team members to simply fill a preset role. When employees accepted a new position, they were expected to perform their job duties exactly the same as the people they were replacing. The drawback was that new employees might have had exceptional skills to offer if managers paid more attention to each team member’s value, but these skills were ignored.

Times have changed. Many companies have learned that good leadership requires a different approach to communication and work designation. Most recognize the value of leaders who trust their employees to share ideas and contribute to the organization of projects — not simply receive and carry out instructions. The best leaders nurture environments that encourage and reward initiative, as well as those that value self-reflection. Good leaders aren’t afraid to accept feedback or admit to a mistake, and they create workplaces where employees don’t fear these things either.

Opportunities for Leadership in Business

Strong leaders are an asset wherever they go. With the right education and training they have a great range of options for where and how to make their mark. Rider University offers a comprehensive online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, designed to build the skills that define excellent leadership. In addition to honing communication and management skills, the degree program provides hands-on opportunities that allow for the practical application of the theories taught. Graduates can potentially move into any number of fields, build work experience and take on leadership roles. The following are six specific jobs for business leaders:

  • Human Resources Manager

Businesses need to recruit the best talent, and they need a solid link between management and employees. Human resources (HR) managers fill this vital role. They seek out and hire new staff, coordinate with upper management on strategic planning, organize employees so individual talents are best used and supervise employee benefit programs, among other responsibilities. HR managers need strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as interpersonal skills, to deal with staffing issues, conduct interviews and effectively consult with executives. The extensive coordination that their job demands means that HR managers must have superior organizational and decision-making skills.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% job growth for HR managers between 2016 and 2026. Those holding a master’s degree will likely find more job prospects in a competitive market. HR managers earned a median annual salary of $113,300 in 2018, according to wage data from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

  • Corporate Trainer

Companies rely on effective corporate trainers to keep their employees up to date on subjects relevant to the business and develop valuable skills the company needs. Corporate trainers plan and deliver meaningful training by building a comprehensive understanding of a company’s services, products and needs. Their training programs teach relevant material and assess participant learning. This requires trainers to know various teaching methods and techniques, as well as tools to evaluate trainees’ needs. To effectively design any training program, corporate trainers must first have industry expertise. They must also possess excellent organizational and collaboration skills to design meaningful sessions, as well as strong presentation and communication skills to effectively deliver the training.

The median annual salary for corporate trainers was $111,340 in 2018, according to the BLS, which projects 10% job growth between 2016 and 2026. Companies always need to train employees, making the job prospects for corporate trainers promising.

  • Financial Controller

Financial controllers use their extensive accounting knowledge to help organizations better understand and forecast their financial futures. They usually work with chief financial officers to set up cost control measures and participate in decisions about revenue. Financial controller duties revolve around conducting internal audit controls and formulating strategies for the finance team’s daily operations. Their duties also entail overseeing payroll, receivables, payables and communication between departments. The ability to examine financial data and extract insights from it requires advanced analytical and research skills as well as technical knowledge. As leaders who must supervise and effectively communicate, financial controllers must have interpersonal and project management skills.

Financial controllers are considered top executives. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for top executives was $104,980 in 2018. The financial controller position is competitive due to its prestige and high salary. The BLS projects 8% job growth between 2016 and 2026.

  • Health Services Manager

Health services managers supervise the finances of their workplaces, which involves creating budgets. The health care sector is tied to layers of laws and regulations that can shift, and health service managers must ensure their facilities conform accordingly. They also strategize how to make a company’s health care delivery system more efficient and effective. To make such improvements, health services managers need problem-solving and analytical skills. To effectively coordinate a staff and adhere to the complexities of health care laws and regulations, health services managers must be highly detail oriented and have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for health services managers was $99,730 in 2018 and forecasts an impressive 20% growth in these jobs from 2016 to 2026, suggesting great job prospects for those entering the field.

  • Nonprofit Director

Nonprofit organizations need leaders with executive skills and backgrounds relevant to the nonprofit’s purpose and mission. Nonprofit directors serve in a similar capacity as CEOs and are liaisons between nonprofits and boards of directors. They manage different departments, providing strategic guidance to department heads, as well as taking responsibility for the nonprofit’s finances. This often requires attending fundraising and public relations (PR) events. Nonprofit directors must possess strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as decision-making and problem-solving skills. Regular interaction with staff and the board of directors along with maintaining excellent PR for the nonprofit require superior interpersonal skills.

The nonprofit sector can’t compete with for-profit sector salaries because nonprofit funding sources, often private contributions and government grants, are relatively limited. According to PayScale, at the time of writing, nonprofit directors earned a median annual salary of $65,230. The BLS doesn’t list specific statistics for nonprofit directors. However, it projects 10% job growth between 2016 and 2026 for PR and fundraising managers.

  • Chief Executive Officer

CEOs are the strategists and policymakers in an organization. Their responsibilities can vary depending on the organization size, but in general, they direct the policies they develop, as well as manage company plans to achieve set objectives. CEOs oversee organizations’ budgets and finances and make decisions regarding contracts and appointments to other executive positions. Their duties require excellent decision-making, problem-solving and time management skills. Their work also demands superior verbal and written communication skills.

The prestige and financial compensation associated with CEOs makes the position highly coveted and therefore competitive. CEOs earned a median annual salary of $189,600 in 2018, according to the BLS, which projects 8% job growth between 2016 and 2026.

Learn More

Leadership in business requires the right preparation. An excellent place to begin is with an advanced degree in business. If you’ve ever imagined yourself in the C-suite or running a nonprofit that fights for a cause you’re passionate about, it might be time to enroll in an MBA program to pursue that dream. Discover Rider University’s online MBA program, and find out how to develop the skills the most elite business leaders possess.


Economic Policy Institute, “CEO Compensation Surged in 2017”

Forbes, “Good Leaders Are Invaluable to a Company. Bad Leaders Will Destroy It.”

Forbes, “Management vs. Leadership: Five Ways They Are Different”

Houston Chronicle, “A List of Qualifications for Health Care Management”

Houston Chronicle, “Qualities of a Corporate Trainer”

Houston Chronicle, “The Importance of Leadership in Business”

Houston Chronicle, “The Role of an Executive Director of a Nonprofit Organization”

Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Nonprofit Executive Director?”

Investopedia, “Controller: Career Path and Qualifications”

PayScale, Average Executive Director, Non-Profit Organization Salary

Rider University, Master of Business Administration

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Training and Development Managers