Organizational Leadership Degree

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What is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational Leadership is a multidisciplinary field of study in business focused on leadership within an organizational context.  Organizational Leadership studies have roots in psychology, anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, education, leadership, neuroscience, organizational design, and business to name a few disciplines.  As an academic practice, Organizational Leadership has been a study of keen interest from a wide variety of professionals in every sector of the job market.   Leadership studies has been noted as one of the fastest growing areas of study within higher education from the undergraduate level to doctoral studies.  As the study of Organizational Leadership grows, it has migrated from a unidisciplinary academic arena to a multidisciplinary specialty to help expound on current leadership philosophies, definitions, styles, theories, competencies, functions, and training methodologies around the globe.

What are the Five Pillars of Leadership?

It also provides an understanding that each individual within any level of an organization can be empowered to lead.  The five pillars of organizational leadership include the following:

1)     Leadership – Leaders add value to an organization in relation to their ability to understand, articulate, and inspire others.  It is important to understand that management and leadership are not the same.  Leaders understand the strategic emphasis of an organization and help carry out that vision through effective and often customized communication.   Theories of leadership include a variety of approaches including Douglas McGregor’s Theory X & Theory Y, Clawson’s Three Level Leadership, Trait, Continencies, Encouraging, Situational, Transactional, Empowering, Relational, Influence, and Behavioral.

2)     Communication – Verbal and nonverbal communication is a basic human interface used to convey an idea, thought, and information.  Communication can be one-to-one, with a small group, or large groups of people.  Methods of communication can include face-to-face, text, email, phone, fax, etc.  Conveying information is much different than effectively communicating.  Effective communication requires an understanding of the audience in terms of their expectations, beliefs, values, and assumptions.

3)     Perspective – Understanding your own worldview and the perspective of others is key for any leader.  Perspective-taking involves a composite understanding of your audience’s lens.  From tangible to intangible beliefs, a person’s perspective can include an interplay between beliefs, attitudes, and beliefs coupled with external forces on each lens.  Organizational leadership requires an accurate representation of the company’s worldview and mapping that with an audience in an effective means.

4)     Ethics – Effective leadership requires telling the truth, being fair, keeping promises, and respecting others.  Ethics is the guiding light that allows leaders to balance various forces such as: individual and organizational, justice and mercy, loyalty and truth, & long-term and short-term.  Ethics is a lens that can be employed to look at any issue or problem to seek a viable solution.

5)     Understanding – Leadership in any organization requires leaders to look at the company and its individuals carefully.  Creating a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) will help leaders understand others within the context of an organization and capitalize on individual & collective strengths.  Building blocks of any strength can be attributed to a set of knowledge, skills, and talent.  Understanding these components and enhancing them to get the best out of each member helps leaders in any organization get the most out of its collective resources.

Top Leadership Degrees

Degree and certificate programs in organizational leadership can span from undergraduate to graduate.  Accredited universities across the country offer a number of rigorous leadership programs to consider.  To determine which program is best for you, invest the time to review the degree summaries below in relationship to your personal priorities and career goals.  Our guide will help you create a set of priorities that will help streamline your decision-making process along the way.

Organizational Leadership Certificate Programs

Certificates in leadership will be offered online or in class by colleges for either undergraduates or graduates.  Undergraduate certificate programs will emphasize the foundational elements of leadership such as effective communication, vision planning, setting expectations, and human psychology.  Earning an undergraduate certificate in leadership may help students land their first job or set them up to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.  Graduate certificates in leadership move beyond the basics to teach specific, actionable skills via case studies, lectures, and real-world learning opportunities.   A certificate at the graduate level will generally be used by students and working professionals to gain greater competence, upskill, prepare for a job change, or remain competitive within a given industry.

Organizational Leadership Bachelor Degrees

Online bachelor degrees in leadership and the traditional classroom equivalent degree can be earned from many schools around the country.  Bachelor degrees in organization leadership can be conferred as either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) depending on the design of the program.  Students can expect to take a combination of liberal arts classes in addition to core courses.  General education classes may include creative writing, psychology, philosophy, English composition, communications, and sociology.  The intent of blending liberal arts with core leadership classes is to provide a well-rounded education with a developed set of holistic thinking skills.

Core classes that may be found in an organizational leadership program will not be identical from school to school.  That being said, many core aspects of the program will be similar regardless of the institution.  You may find the following classes in an OL degree program:

  • Leadership and Followership
  • Personal and Interpersonal Leadership Skills
  • New Product Development
  • Leading Innovation in Companies
  • Global Technology Leadership
  • Organizational Design
  • Leadership and Communication
  • Diversity and Multicultural Organizations
  • Ethics and Leadership
  • Collaboration and Teams
  • Sustainability and Leadership
  • Leading Virtual Teams
  • Design Thinking
  • Technology Strategy
  • Business Principles for Organizational Leadership
  • Leading Change in Organizations
  • Leadership as a Competitive Advantage

Organizational Leadership Master Degrees

Master degree programs in organizational leadership provide students with the opportunity to perform deep analysis of people, businesses, and individuals within the nexus of the business.  Qualified student will have successfully completed all lower-level courses and all other academic requirements.  Graduate students will learn how institutions are managed, how to manage others within the context of an organization or industry, and help companies meet their overall goals.  Leaders of all levels are required to understand business variables along with individual variations.  In other words, becoming an expert at accounting, taxation, economics, and finance are not enough to lead.  Leaders must take their knowledge of an industry or business and effectively work with people.  Individual differences to consider include team member’s education, political views, culture, religion, family constructs, community involvement, and similar factors.  By understanding your team and your business, a leadership stratagem can be employed and communicated more effectively.

Graduate students will typically follow one of two master degree paths.  The first is a degree path that allows students to customize their classes through a variety of core classes and electives.  By selecting courses that are most relevant, student engagement and retention can be heightened.  Alternatively, students may choose to enroll in a graduate program that provides a clear set of courses in the degree program.  In either case, students will learn strategies and theories to help tackle conflict resolution, critical thinking, ethics, negotiation, analyzing human behavior, managing technology, and various aspects of leadership.

Skills & Abilities Required in Organizational Leadership

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Active Listening
  3. Writing
  4. Speech Clarity
  5. Speaking
  6. Instructing
  7. Oral Expression
  8. Oral Comprehension
  9. Speech Recognition
  10. Written Comprehension

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Employment Information & Leadership Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in Organizational Leadership, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from managers, leaders, directors, project specialists, human resources, teachers, and business administration in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.

Organizational Leadership Career Options

Careers in the organizational leadership domain can span virtually any sector of the economy in any size of a company.   A sampling of job title that may be found in this area of study include:  supervisor, training manager, adult instructor, retail manager, safety director, career counselor, communications officer, community outreach coordinator, consultant, office manager, operations manager, corporate trainer, customer service manager, employee relations representative, program manager, marketing assistant, organizational behavior specialist, project leader, employment counselor, events coordinator, health care administrator, human resource manager, job coach, personnel manager, recruiter, analyst, sales manager, training specialist, vocational counselor, or professor.

Job Growth & Career Outlook for Leaders

The job growth in the greater Organizational Leadership domain are well above average.  For example, the rate of job growth for administrative service managers is expected to rise 8% through 2024 and for development managers a 7% growth rate is expected during the same period.  Given the broad nature of the Organizational Leadership degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location.  Related fields include teaching, investing, managing, leading, directing, writing, and producing.

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Career Summary: Organizational leadership Major




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