Over the course of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, you will learn a lot about how to become a better leader. Before you can determine how to become a better leader, however, you must know what a good leader is. Executive consultant S. Chris Edmonds recommends first using experience to search out examples of leadership in your past. After all, he writes, we all have had lousy bosses, good bosses and a few great bosses. So, search your memory for that great boss from your past and determine what made you file that boss under leader in your mind. For Edmonds, his past great boss had a number of qualities.

She clearly communicated goals and values

Employees look to great leaders for direction and purpose. Often, employees are so focused on their immediate tasks that they may not understand the larger picture of what they are working for. It’s up to good leaders to provide purpose to their employees’ work. Business professor/consultant Dave Ulrich and psychologist Wendy Ulrich brought their two disciplines together to explore how to become a better leader. In their book The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win, they stress the importance of creating a strong organizational purpose and identity that create value for customers, investors and employees alike. Good leaders facilitate that process.

She listened

Great leaders understand that a workplace is not a hierarchy, but a network. Communication must flow both ways. Psychology expert Kendra Cherry insists that a good leader should express sincere care and concern for the members of their group both verbally and nonverbally.

She held employees accountable

Leaders must ensure that every action at work aligns with company goals, values and strategies. Accountability means that employees are recognized for their contributions to those goals and values. As Edmonds recalls, his favorite boss kept us laughing through the hectic times and praised us daily for our efforts as well as our accomplishments. That accountability fosters community.

There are many more aspects you can learn to become a better leader, but most take time and reflection. An effective shortcut, though, is to think of the qualities that made a previous boss a great leader and emulate those.

Learn more about the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi online MBA program.