Organizational leadership, organizational management and organizational behavior may often be thought of as a single approach and skillset, and the terms used interchangeably. While all three areas deal with organizational and human performance and their impacts on business success, each are in fact different areas of study and expertise with different organizational applications.
Just as “management” doesn’t automatically equal “leadership,” organizational management and organizational leadership are two distinct arenas, and organizational behavior is a third. Here is what makes each unique and what you need to know to excel in all three areas within your organization.
Organizational leadership studies the psychology of leadership, applying that science to facilitate productive change and movement throughout the organization. This field encompasses individual leader development and applies broadly to the organization in full, looking at areas that can drive the mission and goals of the organization, including:
- Developing leadership styles
- Motivating and inspiring others to achieve common goals
- Establishing visions and strategies
- Communicating clear goals and direction
- Aligning people and building teams
- Operating across diverse functions, industries and geography
- Transforming organizations to adapt and thrive
- Using science to inform decision making
- Fostering ethical and inclusive organizational cultures
Organizational leadership establishes the strategy that will achieve organizational goals – and it’s that balance of leadership strategy and execution that helps organizations achieve success. To excel in an organizational leadership role, you’ll want to cultivate seven key elements of leadership:
- Learning from mistakes or failure
“What organizations need right now are folks with leadership skills to help take them to the top, and this degree will provide those skills,” says Katrina Merlini, Assistant Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Program Chair of the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at Florida Tech.
An organizational leadership education prioritizes the ability to compete in a global business environment, motivating teams of professionals who are diverse in values, attitude, beliefs, expectations, and worldview, and equips leaders to adapt to changing business needs with agility.
In understanding the difference between organizational leadership and organizational management, it can be helpful to remember the old saying about the difference between leadership and management: you lead people and manage processes. As Peter G. Northouse discusses in Leadership: Theory and Practice, “[m]anagement is about order and stability; leadership is about seeking adaptive and constructive change” (2019, p. 53).
While organizational leadership establishes the strategy for setting and achieving organizational goals, organizational management sets and oversees the processes, procedures and organizational structure to successfully execute on the strategy. In short, organizational management is everything that ensures the business operates smoothly, from governing resource allocation, to workplace rules and regulations, to setting the very organizational structure and often-referenced org chart that equips the business to function.
When done well, organizational management should create a clear picture of departmental goals, functions, necessary resources and specifically determine what needs to be done to achieve departmental and organizational goals. Managers at every level of the organization should understand their role and responsibility to both their teams and the organization as a whole. When structured correctly, organizational management enables leaders to effectively manage departments, provide clear expectation for employees, and execute and deliver on time and on budget.
Successful organizational management requires a unique mix of organizational intelligence, an analytical mindset and skills in several areas, including:
- Project planning
- Prioritization and organization
- Staff management and motivation
- Decision making
- Patience and flexibility
In establishing or improving the processes, procedures and structure of your organization, an organizational management consultant can help you evolve and grow while maintaining efficiency.
While organizational leadership sets the goals and strategies for achieving organizational success and organizational management establishes the “how”—the processes and structures for executing the strategy, organizational behavior deals with a different “how”—how the individual workers, teams and, in turn, the entire organization functions as a whole and how that impacts performance and success.
To do this, organizational behavior takes an interdisciplinary approach, blending the study of psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science and social psychology to explain how humans work, as individuals and as collective groups or organizations. In a business setting, that means recognizing the direct link between employee engagement, job satisfaction and individual, and therefore team and organizational, performance.
Organizational psychologists, organizational management consultants or commissioning organizational behavior studies can provide guidance on implementing effective organizational behavior. The results can be an environment where employees flourish, and ultimately, are more satisfied and productive. By better understanding behavior patterns of individuals, groups, and organizations, managers can predict what responses will occur from specific actions they may take, ultimately achieving control over the outcome. This can be crucial in times of change when organizational behavior can leverage group dynamics and individual influence to help champion wider acceptance of changes.
Managers are direct influences on employee performance and satisfaction and can implement the science of organizational behavior to build better teams. A manager’s approach and leadership style impacts employees from the start, at hiring and throughout the employee lifecycle.
Integrating All Three Into Your Organization
McKinsey & Company senior partner Scott Keller says for more than 40 years, some core topics and themes have remained central to organizational leadership and management: retaining talent and building teams, decision making and sound organizational design and culture—these last two being hallmarks of organizational behavior.
Making these core themes a part of your organization requires the integration of organizational management, organizational leadership, and organizational behavior, as each plays a vital and complementary part in strengthening your organization and yourself as a capable, well-equipped organizational leader.
Prepare to be that well-equipped organizational leader with the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Florida Tech!