MA in Organizational Leadership Aims to Develop ‘Adaptive, Agile Leaders’ Across Industries

Florida Tech recently launched a Master’s of Organizational Leadership, a cross-disciplinary program that delves into the principles and theories of leadership from a psychological perspective.

Associate Professor Lisa Steelman, director of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at Florida Tech, helped develop the 100% online MA in Organizational Leadership curriculum. Steelman spoke with us about what students will learn in the new program and how developing their leadership skills can position them for an array of professional paths.

Q. What potential career opportunities will students have upon graduating with an MA in Organizational Leadership (MAOL)?

The MAOL will increase your leadership skills in any industry and organization. Understanding how to lead individuals and teams is a critical competency that organizations evaluate when making promotion decisions in general.

Companies today are fast-paced and often global. They are looking for adaptive, agile leaders who proactively seek opportunities, and who are equipped with the broad knowledge and competencies to lead people to meet strategic priorities and optimize performance. An Organizational Leadership degree can give you skills and abilities that are valued across functions, propel you to higher organizational levels and greater role responsibilities, and provide flexibility across the life of your career.

With the online Master’s in Organizational Leadership you will be prepared to work in diverse sectors and industries. Below is a sample of careers where leadership skills are useful:

  • Team manager
  • Operations manager
  • Management consultant
  • Human resources/talent management
  • Vice president/director/executive officer
  • Medical and health services administrator
  • Education administrator
  • Entrepreneur
  • Training and development
  • Nonprofit leadership
  • Corporate recruiter
  • Sales manager

As you can see, leadership skills are in demand in a number of industries, partly due to the upcoming retirement of a generation of employees.

Q. How can studying Organizational Leadership impact different industries?

A degree in Organizational Leadership teaches students how to become effective leaders, motivate others, implement change and handle the human aspects of management. Florida Tech’s MAOL program is cross-disciplinary, and incorporates psychology and business contexts. Students will learn how to lead in a variety of organizational settings, opening the doors to a variety of career paths.

Not only will the MAOL program provide background in the theory of leadership, but it will also help students build practical skills and experiences that will allow them to get ahead at work.

Q. What leadership theories, styles and scholars do you focus on in your teaching?

Students in the MAOL program will learn about a number of different leadership theories and styles, and learn how they can apply each style in their current situation. The student will learn about classic approaches to leadership, as well as more contemporary approaches such as transformational leadership, authentic leadership, ethical leadership and servant leadership.

As the nature of the workplace evolves, higher-level leadership skills will be required to manage work teams (cross-functional, diverse and virtual) and global organizations, as well as to facilitate and promote necessary organizational change.

Q. Are there any classic case studies that will be reviewed in the curriculum?

Students will view interviews with real leaders and learn how those leaders navigated difficult leadership situations. Students will also work on applied case studies, most reflecting real-world organizational problems.

A couple of classics include Enron and the failure of ethical leadership, and the case of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, who famously led his team of explorers on a survival journey after they became shipwrecked in the Antarctic.

Q. What is the the difference between an MBA and an MAOL?

An MBA is a business administration degree; the coursework covers broad aspects of running a business, including finance, accounting, marketing, human resources and operations/strategy. The MAOL degree focuses on managing the human side of organizations, which is often both the major competitive advantage and the major expense of a business.

The MAOL applies principles of psychology and behavior to understand how to motivate, inspire and lead a company’s valuable human capital.

Q. What are your favorite leadership blogs and videos?



  • Jeffrey Pfeiffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
  • Jim Collins, business consultant, author and lecturer on corporate leadership, growth and sustainability
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