Fourth Estate/Allison Alberty

Professors share the importance of leadership and management skills for student success.


Mason professors and advisors highly encourage students to start building strong leadership and management skills during their time at Mason. Students looking to enhance their resumes and professional profiles could use these skills in preparation for their future careers. There are clubs and organizations at Mason where students can get involved and potentially build their leadership and management skills before they venture out into the professional world. 

According to Amanda Ganus, Academic Advisor at the School of Business, having open and clear communication is an important skill in leadership and management careers. “Even if you are not in a leadership role, the types of skills that you need to develop as a leader are applicable at any level…figure out your own style of leadership and management and be able to adapt that as you go through your career,” said Ganus.

During their time at Mason, students can start practicing their management skills by learning how to balance their classes, workload, jobs, and other obligations—while also giving themselves time for mental breaks— and “think of them as practice for after graduation,” said Ganus. “Take your classes and experiences as a student as practice for application outside of school,” said Ganus. 

“Communications to me is one of the most important elements of leadership in any field,” said Marty Abruzzo, Student Services Coordinator at the School of Integrative Studies. A good manager and leader can communicate well with their team and bring their team together. “People want to be part of something, and a good manager recognizes that,” said Abruzzo.

Abruzzo believes that building networks is a crucial step toward being a strong leader and manager. There are programs at Mason where you can be a peer leader and “that’s a great way to get a mentorship, learn from current faculty advisors, keep contacts, and build networks,” said Abruzzo. Resources such as Mason 360 help students learn about events and clubs that are available on campus. “There’s so much good that comes from connecting with like-minded students that you can all share information and connect, so take a leap and get involved,” said Abruzzo. 

Dr. Nick Lennon, Director of Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) and Adjunct Professor at the School of Integrative Studies, values specific leadership skills such as communicating across differences, conflict management, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and ethical decision-making.

“Employers are definitely looking for students who are able to both manage and lead. A friend who works for an engineering company told me that their company used to only hire students with the very highest GPAs, but they expanded the range of who they were hiring to make sure to include those with more leadership and teamwork skills, including emotional intelligence,” said Lennon.  

 According to Lennon, a strong leader also needs to be open-minded and a good listener. “One of the most important things to do as a leader is to ask good open-ended questions and to listen to others, including those with very different beliefs than your own. This is often missed because people assume that leaders are supposed to be commanding and ‘in-charge.’ In reality, the best leaders seek out different viewpoints, empower others, and make ethical decisions for the common good,” said Lennon.

“I can’t emphasize enough, for students specifically, to take opportunities in student organizations and activities here at Mason to further develop their leadership potential and leadership skills,” said Dr. Katie Rosenbusch, Associate Professor of Management at the School of Business.

“Coming from an HR program, one of the things, when I am interviewing potential candidates, that I look for is leadership and management skills. I am always looking for people that can work as a team, have good communication skills, are able to think critically, but then decipher how to be innovative and creative— and a lot of that comes from a leadership standpoint,” said Rosenbusch. 

Rosenbusch indicated that learning and applying leadership skills is not easy. “One of my kinds of philosophies is that you don’t really know leadership until you practice it. In theory, it sounds really easy. But when you actually have to execute it and have followers, and have the followers execute a goal or strategy, it can be very difficult. So, you can only gain those skills by practicing them,” said Rosenbusch.

Students can utilize their time at Mason to get involved in organizations and activities on campus that can help in building their professional skills, according to Abruzzo. “I would encourage all students to find anything that they are interested in… All the resources you need are here. If the students can just see that, sign up for something and try it, more school spirit would come around,” said Abruzzo.