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Humanities Majors Make the Best Managers

December 17th, 2019

Who make the best managers? Not MBAs or STEM professionals, says DDI's Frontline Leader Project. The best leaders are humanities majors.

Frontline leaders college degrees

"Leaders with humanities backgrounds showed the strongest performance in leaderships skills focused on people and interactions," according to the latest study from the global leadership consulting firm. Leaders with degrees in business or STEM were stronger, the research found, "in common business-related skills like judgment, problem analysis, and planning and organizing, but struggled with interaction-based skills."

There's no question good business skills are essential to success. Without equally good people skills, even the most technically able managers will fall short in getting the best performance from their team. While these frontline managers may meet regularly with their team members, those contributors complain "their leaders do not regularly explain why decisions are made (51 percent) and 60 percent are not regularly involved in key decisions affecting their work."

Workers who don’t understand the purpose behind what they’re doing become increasingly more disengaged. When those same managers also lack empathy, fail to recognize the efforts of their team and ignore or pay lip service to concerns, workers quit. The report found almost one-in-six workers have quit a job because of their manager; 14% more than once.

There's no mystery why this happens, DDI says. People are promoted into management based on their performance rather than on their people skills. And then few receive any support during the transition. It's an average of 4 years after being promoted that they first go through leadership development training.

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