For businesses to succeed, they must be guided by visionary and adaptive leaders who possess the skills to steer their teams through challenging times and seize opportunities.

This article explores the significance of leadership frameworks and models to help guide these leaders now and into the future. We will also delve into the importance of effective leadership in the contemporary business world and the role MBA programs play in cultivating strong leaders.

Can leadership be learned? Using leadership frameworks for success

It’s the eternal question in business — can leadership be learned? The answer is yes, but it takes some practice.

Tom Adam, the founder and creative lead at curiousGrowth, knows leadership takes time to develop. As a former employee of a large organisation, he knows how poor leadership can affect a workforce. “What I have issues with is that if you don’t translate the vision, aims and goals of an organisation down to the working level, people don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Good leaders are effective communicators, understand emotions, can think strategically and know how to build connections. While experience enables leaders to grow, ongoing education also helps sharpen skills. You don’t become a good leader overnight. Leadership skills are learned, evolve and need to be practised. Even the most experienced leaders encounter new challenges.

A leadership framework is a tool that can help all leaders.

What is a leadership framework?

Effective leaders and managers often use a leadership framework as a guide to understand, develop and apply their leadership skills and qualities to their teams. The framework consists of principles that outline the knowledge, skills and actions required of leaders.

In clearly outlining what’s needed, this framework provides consistent standards and practical tools.

Many organisations have developed their own framework models. One such framework consists of three key components. Each component is guided by a set of principles. The three components and their principles are:

  • Leading people: These principles guide the day-to-day management of people and cover aspects such as creating a safe environment, building teams, rewarding hard work and facilitating ongoing improvement.
  • Leading yourself: This component’s principles are about understanding your role and development as a leader, understanding the roles of others and managing internal relationships.
  • Leading the organisation: This is underscored by the principles of designing and overseeing work systems, applying business strategies, managing strategic relationships and building the capability of teams.

As a leader, your framework will be unique to you and your team and might change over time as the organisation and your leadership style grow and evolve.

Why is a leadership framework important?

For leaders and managers, a framework has many benefits, including:

  • providing clarity around their role and the role of others
  • giving them clear direction on who is responsible for what
  • offering understanding on how to build successful work relationships
  • providing clear direction on management issues
  • giving guidance on developing the skills of team members

For the organisation, a framework:

  • provides consistency for leadership teams across the organisation
  • builds a culture of trust
  • provides a common language throughout the entire organisation
  • improves employee engagement and efficiency

How to create a leadership framework

An effective leadership framework is tailor-made for an organisation, so it’s important that the framework isn’t just borrowed from another organisation and that leaders are involved in its creation. Take time to understand why you’re creating a framework and what changes you want to see in your organisation as a result of it. When creating a leadership framework for your organisation, here are some elements worth including:

  • the skills and knowledge leaders are expected to have
  • the different leadership styles they might employ
  • the values leaders are expected to maintain
  • how leaders can set strategic goals and guide their teams towards that vision
  • the importance of adaptability and how leaders can manage change
  • an emphasis on the importance of communication, collaboration and team building
  • problem-solving skills that leaders might employ
  • how leaders should seek feedback and take time for self-reflection
  • activities leaders can undertake such as training and coaching to develop their skills

Creating a framework that works takes time and it can be a challenge. Here are some tips for getting it right. The framework should:

  • be concise and easy to use
  • be written in an accessible way, in plain English
  • contain language or content that is inclusive
  • be as specific as possible
  • be clear about the objectives of each element
  • be comprehensive enough to take in all the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for success
  • be written in a way that ensures competencies are measured fairly
  • cover all skills and deliverables required by all leaders in the organisation

What makes an effective leader?

Effective leaders can successfully implement business strategies, identify and seize opportunities, train other leaders, build a better culture and increase business profits. Employee experience and retention are also inextricably tied to the types of leaders in an organisation. As much as 70 per cent of an employee’s opinion of their work environment is shaped by their leader.

As such, organisations and recruiters are always on the lookout for skilled leaders.

How to learn leadership skills

Effective leadership skills are vital for the success of an organisation, individual teams and the leaders themselves. So, how can current and future leaders equip themselves with the skills they need to be the leaders businesses want and need? Many are turning to MBA courses to help set them on the path to success.

MBAs cultivate leadership skills by offering insights into leadership frameworks, models and strategic approaches. They help you define your leadership learning objectives. Upon graduation, you’ll emerge with a strong theoretical understanding of leadership and well-developed skills in practical leadership and management, critical thinking, strategic decision-making and emotional intelligence.

Adam studied for his executive MBA from 2016 to 2020. He started his studies when he decided to take his martial arts and fitness business full-time. “I wanted to understand how to get my business to a point that was beyond me.”

He says the program gave him an understanding that an organisation’s vision, mission and values are important in leadership. But learning continues, even after you graduate with an MBA. “You need to continue your learning afterwards. Use it to get the right people around you to give you advice so you can apply that thinking going forward.”

Adam found the design thinking unit helped him hone his creative problem-solving skills for his business. He values the development of soft skills such as networking and relationship building. “You have to learn how to articulate things to people with different backgrounds. Those relationships that you form through networking, I see them as longer term. I treat them as my really good friends.”

Develop your leadership with an MBA program

Given the increased pressures on organisations and their leaders, it’s no surprise that recruiters are seeking managers with strong leadership abilities. If you’ve decided an MBA is the best way for you to gain these valuable skills, where to now?

MBA Discovery partners with universities to bring their courses to current and future business leaders, who can study online from anywhere in Australia. What are your ambitions in leadership? Learning outcomes vary, so let’s take a look at several units on offer.

Effective leaders are problem solvers, and as part of RMIT’s MBA, you’ll dive deep into design thinking and how to use it to develop a professional mindset and creatively solve business problems. You’ll also gain an understanding of contemporary management styles to improve organisations, motivate teams and assess your own strengths and areas of growth as a leader.

Using theories from psychology and sociology, the Management and Leadership Skills unit as part of James Cook University’s MBA enables future leaders to confidently analyse leadership concepts and develop leadership frameworks in practical settings. Students are also encouraged to critically examine their own leadership practices and apply a range of approaches to different issues.

Given the uncertainty and change facing business, the Art and Practice of Leadership unit, as part of Victoria University’s MBA, focuses on fostering skills to navigate complex situations and change. This course aims to cultivate a profound understanding of leadership in an increasingly complex world.

As part of The Positive Leader unit in Southern Cross University’s MBA, students will study positive leadership models, differentiate types of leadership and be given the opportunity to apply their new skills in various situations. This course creates career-ready graduates with a varied and future-focused set of skills.

Your leadership career starts here

Ready to be the leader you’ve always aspired to be? An MBA can help you become the visionary leader recruiters are seeking. MBA Discovery’s Student Enrolment Advisors are ready to help you explore the best course for you.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments