In any organization, however big or small, there must be someone responsible for directing the team. Such a person is often referred to as an organizational leader. Organizational leadership is a management approach whereby an organizational leader sets goals and motivates team members to use their skills to achieve them. Successful organizational leadership allows companies to hire and retain the best talent, and get those employees working together toward the same goal.
Organizational leaders combine business and leadership skills gained from completing an organizational leadership program. An organizational leadership degree trains students on how to lead teams in the public and private sectors.
The good news is that some of the best schools that offer organizational leadership degree programs offer both online and on-campus learning systems.
Fields of Study Included in Organizational Leadership
To deliver effectively as an organizational leader, you’ll need to incorporate other fields of study that harmonize with your organizational leadership degree. These fields may be undertaken separately or as part of your bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, there are some big questions you’ll need to ask yourself if you are looking to have strong management alongside effective leadership.
Things to Learn in an Organizational Leadership Program
Organizational leadership requires a combination of several skills to perform effectively. Some of the organizational leadership skills you’ll learn in higher education include:
1. Interpersonal Communication
This is an important skill for students to learn in as part of an organizational leadership major. Good interpersonal communication in an organizational leadership role helps keep employees motivated, satisfied, and collaborative – which in turn boosts productivity. Some of the key benefits of proper interpersonal communication in a leadership role are:
- Promotes easier problem solving
- Helps align business goals
- Build trust among all staff
- Promotes employee recognition
- Enhances personal relationships
2. Team Building
Effective organizational leadership means working with teams. Some of the expected outcomes in a team-building course are:
- Teaching the best tactics of communication with other team members
- Offer a practical outline of team dynamics
- Help participants on self-discovery and how to strike candid conversations
- Identify trigger phrases and words
At the end of the program, students can:
- Explain how to manage the four behavioral basic styles
- Illustrate effective listening skills
- Rephrase poor word choice into easy to understand communication
- Identify team-building models
- Define team-building processes like performing, storming, norming, forming
- Identify team strengths, weakness, and areas for improvement
3. Leadership Development
Leadership development entails activities that improve confidence, skills, abilities, and confidence in leaders. The programs are different depending on the cost, style of teaching, and complexity. The two main forms of leadership development are mentoring and coaching. However, leader development and leadership development should not be confused. The former focuses on an individual while the latter refers to development programs that focus on an organization’s collective leadership.
Organizational leadership students learn how to shift responsibility and authority for specific tasks and functions among other staff members. “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating work works too.” Robert Half. That statement shows how in learning about delegation, organizational leaders should not simply tell people what to do, rather it involves explaining the expected results. The other members are then expected to work on the steps involved in realizing the set targets.
5. Human Resources Leadership Development
Organizational leadership students are equipped with HR skills that align with an organizational leadership role. For organizational leaders who are already employed, this program is always taken in a workshop whereby participants are first required to detail a ‘SWOT’ analysis for their respective organization’s HR functions. The participants then identify areas that may need competencies and skills to enable them to strengthen their departmental human resource leadership skills.
6. Cultural Intelligence
Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a critical field an organizational leader gives keen attention to. This discipline helps a student cultivate global leadership skills where you can work and relate with people from different cultural backgrounds. Cultural intelligence will enable a leader to learn how to come up with innovative solutions when dealing with workers from varying cultures.
Other areas that cultural intelligence (CQ) predicts in an organizational leadership role include:
- Leadership and negotiation effectiveness
- Informed decision making and proper judgment
- Adaptability and personal adjustment
- Cost-savings and profitability
- Idea sharing, trust, and innovation.
Organizations rely on leadership decision-making (LDM) as an essential skill that organizational leaders use to assert into other people a pre-decided goal and have it achieved. Organizational leadership students are also taught how to support and empower their teams to think and act in line with the strategic plans aimed at accomplishing set goals. These leaders know that they carry full responsibility for their decisions regardless of whether the decisions work or not.
The best leaders are versatile. This automatically translates to a high-performing and engaged workforce. Organizational leaders learn how to avoid being disrupted by gaining a competitive advantage on how to disrupt first. Leaders are also taught how to study and temporarily adjust other employees’ behaviors and make them pull in the same direction with their colleagues in meeting the set goals. It may, however, be a challenge since versatility may also mean making everyone else comfortable with each other even at a personal expense. Certification in psychology is always a great addition here.
9. Strategic Business Planning
Leadership students learn how to steer a company in the right direction, and also how to deal with roadblocks along the journey. Organizational leaders without strategic plans are likely to wreck the companies and organizations they lead.
10. Organizational Behavior
Organizational behavior incorporates research dedicated to job performance improvement, job satisfaction increment, leadership encouragement, and promotion of innovation. Each category has its recommended action plan including modifying compensation structures, group reorganization, or restructuring performance evaluation processes.
Qualifications for Organizational Leadership
Organizational leadership is the backbone of any organization determined for business success. Organizational leaders are thus tasked with several responsibilities such as taking the lead in training initiatives, negotiating contracts, planning and updating new programs to foster deeper engagement levels geared towards realizing the set success goals. All these require a professional background along with academic qualifications attained after years of studies.
Qualities of an Organizational Leader
Apart from the required academic qualifications, an organizational leader needs certain soft skills to realize success at any leadership level. The good thing is that most of them can be developed in volunteer activities, at work, school, or job training programs.
Here we’ll go into a little detail on some of these soft skills.
Empathy is closely related to job performance and is a vital part of leadership effectiveness and emotional intelligence. Research by the Creative Center of Leadership states that leaders who show empathy towards direct reports are considered better performers by their bosses. Empathy is a quality that organizational leaders can cultivate to improve their effectiveness and those they lead.
To improve the effectiveness of an organizational leader, treating everyone equally and with deserved respect is key. This helps ease tension among workers and also creates trust. As a skillful leader, you can show respect to every employee irrespective of their rank without the feel of stooping lower. Learn ways to cultivate a climate of respect at the workplace as a leader.
Now that you are a leader does not mean you’ll have automatic courage to voice anything you feel should be relayed across to other staff. These may involve giving a direct report, communicating changes, voicing an idea, or even flagging someone in a senior rank than you. It might be intimidating but you have to do it for the good of the organization you are employed to serve. Though not something you are born with, courage is something that can be cultivated. An organizational leader would rather take the bull by the horns than be lenient to issues affecting an organization and let them escalate at the expense of productivity and general well-being.
A good organizational leader will always encourage everyone to voice the truth irrespective of the repercussions.
Gratitude is a proven way of improving self-esteem, reducing anxiety and depression, and boosting sleep quality. These are all ways to enhance your effectiveness as an organizational leader. A word of ‘thank you’ to the smallest tasks leaves an employee motivated and willing to go overboard. Organizational leaders should make ‘thank you’ part of daily vocabulary as a way of pushing employees to maximize output.
Some people may have a negative view of influential people as either being too pushy or dictatorial. However, for a well-trained organizational leader, this skill can be used mildly by logically and emotionally convincing other staff members to embrace an idea or work cooperatively without feeling compromised. Influence, when exercised by an organizational leader, does not feel like manipulation, rather a good leader makes it come out as transparent and authentic as possible. It may require greater use of one’s emotional intelligence to achieve this. Explore more on key ways to influence others.
6. Learning Agility
Learning agility is yet another skill that sets an effective organizational leader apart from an ordinary leader. The ability to think on your feet and still offer meaningful arguments may require time and extensive exploration of organizational processes to foster. Effort and years of experience will make an organizational leader agile to situations affecting an organization. Patience is key for leaders seeking to improve learning agility.
Educational Requirements for a Career in Organizational Leadership
Apart from the qualities such as soft skills as we’ve seen above, an aspiring organizational leader must as well meet the educational requirements for the position. These may be as low as acquiring a graduate certificate which requires a shorter period to complete and is also cheaper compared to an online master’s degree.
A certificate program will take 12 to 24 credit hours for a student to acquire specific knowledge in the target study field. Another great thing about undertaking a certificate graduate program is the ability to remain employed while learning.
Experience Required for Organizational Leadership
Pursuing an organizational leadership degree program is an essential requirement towards realizing your dream as an effective organizational leader. While it is true that organizational change has greatly impacted leadership programs offered at the university, leadership theory has remained among the key determinants of effective leadership and the reason some people make better leaders than others.
These theories include:
- Trait theory
- Contingency theory
- Great man theory
- Situational theory
- Behavioral theory
All the above theories combined with academic qualifications and years of experience working in organizational settings qualify a potential organizational leader to take on any organizational leadership role.
Types of Organizational Leadership Jobs
There are a variety of job opportunities within organizations that successful leadership candidates can assume in a leadership capacity. Some of these roles combine both prior leadership and managerial experience and include positions such as:
1. Plant Supervisor
Plant supervisors lead, plan and coordinate plant operations in the teams they lead. They also monitor activities and plant operation processes. Regardless of the industry, plant supervisors are always required to have strong managerial skills and experience.
2. Production Manager
The primary duty of a production manager is to keep organized records on employment issues and business finance for various organizations and industries. Production managers may supervise budget expenditures to make sure they remain within the set budget constraints.
3. Department Supervisor
Department supervisor tasks vary depending on the business or industry setting. Some of the most common tasks carried out by department supervisors include carrying performance reviews, delegating tasks to other team members, and organizing schedules. Department supervisors may also help new employees develop skills by offering them mentorship and coaching as required.
4. Brand Manager
Brand managers are actively involved in marketing, promoting, advertising, and making sure both existing and potential customers are aware of available business products and services. Brand managers may also assess and monitor market trends, analyze market data and develop proper strategies that will keep an organization’s products and services on top of other competitors.
5. Director of Operations
The Director of operations may have closely related responsibilities to those of an operations manager. However, they may be involved in evaluating and monitoring more operational activities within an organization or business away from their departments. For example, most directors lead sales and marketing departments plus other business development strategies. You’ll also find directors of operations supervising a variety of departments that are led by the operations managers.
6. Business Manager
Business managers are typically tasked with evaluating and monitoring operations and employees in an organization. Business managers may from time to time act as leaders and influence the employees by keeping them motivated with an aim of realizing company goals.
7. Plant Manager
Plant managers supervise and maintain all the operations and processes of production and manufacturing plants in an organization. Plant managers are also leaders actively involved in managing employees by monitoring their performance and productivity to make sure they are in line with business goals. Plant managers also lead in educating and mentoring employees on safety measures to make sure they adhere to safety protocols and procedures.
8. Project Manager
Project managers are responsible for the supervision of the whole process of acquiring a project to making sure it is completed. A project manager may supervise the development, planning, and implementation of a variety of projects depending on the industry. These may include adhering to deadlines and keeping budgetary standards. Project managers also act as team leaders whereby they influence and motivate employees in a bid to achieve an organizations’ development goals.
9. Executive Director
Executive directors take up the responsibility of the strategy development and administrative roles in an organization depending on the industry. These leaders also manage the planning, finance, and marketing roles.
10. Operations Manager
The leadership responsibilities of an operations manager depend on the industry they work in. Among the tasks they might involve in include:
- Supervision of quality assurance
- Monitoring and evaluation processes
- Strategy development
Operation managers may also assist in the hiring and training processes of new workers. These leaders may also assume the responsibility of motivating team members in a bid to maximize productivity in their respective departments.
How to Advance Yourself in Organizational Leadership
Assuming a leadership role can be both exciting and challenging, whether you are coming in as a seasoned executive or a new supervisor. To advance quickly and find your ground as a capable organizational leader, you must be ready to tell your story through a series of actions like direct reports and a first-day sticky evaluation based on your conversation.
Degrees and Certificates That Qualify You for Organizational Leadership
Organizational leadership is broad and correlates with business managerial experience to offer a variety of leadership roles in many organizations as we’ve seen in the previous sections. For instance, an associate degree in small business management would be enough for a leadership role in an organization. Other certifications include a graduate certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership.
Benefits of a Degree in Organizational Leadership
Pursuing a degree in organizational leadership comes with a myriad of benefits apart from the vast job openings one will be eligible for. Both knowledge and work experience working in organizational leadership roles will have lasting satisfaction in your social life even after leaving the employment market. The skills learned during studies will apply across many sectors of your life.
Here are some benefits you’ll get to enjoy with a degree in organizational leadership:
- Higher remunerations rates across most job positions
- Improved social life in the community
- Lots of job opportunities across many different sectors
- Sense of satisfaction when organizational goals are achieved
- Improved self-esteem that comes with a leadership role.
How a Degree in Organizational Leadership Can Give You Flexibility in the Job Market
There are many cases whereby people pursue a degree in the university up to a bachelor’s or master’s degree level with a keen interest in a particular job in mind. However, once they get absorbed in these dream jobs, it barely takes a few years or even months before they realize it is not what they had hoped for. Unfortunately, most degrees are rigid and will always tie you to a particular industry without any options of switching unless you go back to the university.
That is not always the case with a degree in organizational leadership. The most important work for those hoping to pursue a degree in organizational leadership is investing time to understand the dynamics surrounding a career in organizational leadership.
Those who pursue a degree in organizational leadership can be confident to find a job in almost every sector in todays’ job market. Not only will they be able to work in a leadership position but can also take on organizational management roles.
Here are some of the sectors where either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s one in organizational leadership may be useful and the positions a graduate degree holder can expect to get.
A school set-up comprises a larger group of people that look up to a leader to realize both individual goals and those of the school. Apart from the capability to work as a school administrator, an organizational leadership degree is also directly applicable for a leadership position. Some of the roles of a leader in a school setting include:
- Offering leadership through teaching and learning
- Promoting change that drives results in students performance
- Working and engaging with the diverse community that also include parents and carers
- Driving school management that includes other staff and school resources.
To shape any organizational culture, leadership takes the central role and the healthcare environment. Here, you may work as a Hospital Executive tasked with emphasizing high-quality, compassionate, and safe healthcare services. Some of these necessary cultural elements as may be implemented by a hospital executive include:
- Inspiring operationalized visions at all levels
- Promoting practical teamwork
- Aligning objectives for the staff teams, individuals, and departments
- Enabling and supporting staff management and high-level people management
3. Police and Armed Forces
Police and armed forces leadership is one sector where a leadership role may tend to take a slightly different style, but it still demands an effective leader. Although leadership roles here might be somewhat authoritative, most aspiring law enforcement leaders today discern the need to have the necessary skill set to take on police leadership roles.
Conceptual police leadership styles include:
- Authoritative Police Leadership: This is a strictly rules-based and military-like approach where leaders exert full control and orders must be followed by all other team members.
- Transformational Police Leadership: Transformational leadership here is a more ‘people-centered approach’ that aims to motivate, inspire, and empower other team members in the police force. Transformational leadership is more inclusive and considerate of other peoples’ unique needs, motivation, and skills.
- Transactional Police Leadership: This is more of authoritative leadership with the only distinction being the motivation of the subordinates through its reward-based system. Here, subordinates are either punished or rewarded based on their adherence to the rules and general performance.
4. Consulting Firms
A degree in organizational leadership will allow you to work as a leadership consultant in a consulting firm or start and manage your consulting firm. Some of the services you will offer as a leadership consultant include working with business owners to help them assess the needs and goals of their organizations, help businesses if more information might be needed about individuals or teams to help organizations move with their strategic plans, and also work with you in defining strategies and objectives specific to your team
5. Private Enterprises
Private enterprises are on the constant look-out for competent individuals to take on roles in human resource management, business administration, operations management, and many more. An organizational leadership graduate is the single most competent person to take on most of these roles without the need for an extra certification. More open options in private enterprises also include working as organizational development manager, office manager, management analyst, administrative director, and more.
6. Manufacturing Firms
An organizational leadership student looking to work in a manufacturing firm has the opportunity to assume a leadership role such as a production manager, plant manager, or even an operations manager. Such positions may incorporate both leadership and managerial elements.
Leadership roles in any of the above sectors will require the completion of an organizational leadership program at the university. The good news is that most of the degrees, whether an online bachelor’s degree or a graduate certificate, are becoming mainstream. Anyone interested in transitioning to a leadership career can undertake online courses while they continue working.