What is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership is a cross-disciplinary field that examines the psychology of leadership and its applications to organizations. This integrated discipline includes topics such as effective leadership and leadership styles, how to motivate employees, communication, operating in diverse functions and industries, and change implementation and management.

An In-Demand Field

A lack of organizational leadership is a global issue that cuts across all industries, according to a study from the World Economic Forum on the Global Outlook for 2015, which identified the lack of leadership as the third-highest organizational challenge over the next year and a half. In the survey, 86 percent of the nearly 2000 respondents agree there is a world leadership crisis.

This global issue is represented in the U.S. as well; according to the Conference Board’s Developing Leaders for 2014 report, only one-third of U.S. companies believe they are effective at identifying future leaders.

Skills Developed in an Organizational Leadership Education

Although strong leadership is often attributed to possessing certain traits, leaders can also improve their effectiveness by studying the science of leadership and how to use psychological principles to influence the human element of management. By taking a closer look at the leader, the follower and situation, organizational leadership covers the knowledge needed to navigate all components of the leadership process.

A recent Forbes article lists the qualities companies seek in new employees. Industry knowledge, analytics, using computer software are surprisingly far down on the list. The top three are:

  1. The ability to work in a team
  2. The ability to make decisions and solve problems
  3. The ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

These soft skills closely align with an Organizational Leadership degree, as strong leaders must be able to demonstrate all three of these abilities and inspire others to follow their lead.

Organizational leadership education looks to develop agile leaders that can adapt to quickly changing business needs across different units and sectors. It places a priority on being able to compete in a global business environment, and being able to motivate others who have different worldviews, values, attitudes, beliefs and expectations.

MAOL students will quickly learn that there’s no one road to effective leadership. Different styles must be employed to achieve different goals. Organizational leadership considers classic leadership styles in addition to newly emerging practices, such as transformational leadership and authentic leadership.

Organizational Leadership Careers

An MAOL degree prepares students for roles in a variety of functions, including:

  • Consulting: An organizational leadership graduate is prepared to analyze management activities and advise companies on their leadership strategies and capabilities. This path might appeal to entrepreneurial-minded students, who can begin their own consulting companies, but there are opportunities to provide these services as part of a larger organization.
  • Human resources: Organizational leadership graduates will have the skills necessary to lead large teams of people with different backgrounds, working styles and expectations. Leadership professionals will also have the ability to handle conflict management and resolution.
  • Training and development: To make sure everyone in the organization is on the same page, it’s critical to ensure everyone has the knowledge to get the work done properly and a strong understanding of shared goals and responsibilities. Training and development leaders head up the process of designing and disseminating that information.
  • Education: Organizational leadership graduates can play an important role in helping students improve. Principals with strong leadership skills are required in elementary, middle and high schools. At the university level, leadership learned in an MAOL program can apply to admissions, financial aid, academics, research and student services.

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