Organizational leadership, which happens to be one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, is more than just buzzwords. The theories and practices of organizational leadership emphasize the management of a company or other entity at an organizational level, rather than a departmental level or mid-level management or supervisory capacity. This means taking charge of job duties that have a bigger impact on the organization as a whole, but it also means keeping that view of the company as an organization made up of people, rather than merely a profit-producing machine. In the job roles you might attain with a degree in organizational leadership, some of the tasks you’re likely to do include making major decisions and coming up with strategic plans for progress and improvement.
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Part of working in a management role is making decisions. When you work in an organizational leadership role, the decisions you make tend to be focused on the big picture of the organization’s direction, guiding values and business strategy, not the minute details of daily operations. You might, for example, choose the company’s next moves as it expands business operations, weathers changes like mergers and acquisitions or puts into place new initiatives that affect the internal structure of how the organization operates.
In many, but not all, of the roles you are likely to find in organizational leadership, making the decisions about employees who make up the organization are likely to be part of your job duties. That is, you might be the one to devise policies to make it easier to onboard new workers and determine employee training needs. Again, this would likely be at a high level, in which your role is more to make strategic decisions than to put in the work of fleshing out every detail of these policies and training programs.
Making strategic decisions is such an important aspect of work in organizational leadership that many master’s in organizational leadership programs devote a full course to the subject of decision-making. Good leaders are able to confidently and efficiently make sound decisions based on a careful review of options, an awareness of potential biases and their own critical thinking.
Your exact role in organizational leadership has a lot of influence over what you spend your workdays doing. The higher your level of seniority, the less hands-on your work tends to be. For example, while it’s true that both chief executive officers (CEOs) and human resources managers make decisions related to recruitment, those decisions may be very different. A CEO may identify what kind of workers are needed for a new line of business operations, while a human resources manager may be the one to write the job description and interview candidates – or delegate that work to the HR specialists they supervise.
Making decisions in organizational leadership isn’t a responsibility you should take lightly or one you should seek for selfish reasons like prestige. While prestige does accompany these senior-level roles, leaders need to think of what is best for the organization as a whole.
High-Level Strategic Planning
Good leaders celebrate their organization’s victories and strengths without losing sight of opportunities to do better and work on weaknesses. From their high-level roles in the company, managers with a background in organizational leadership can develop realistic strategies to improve the company. This may mean turning a critical eye on the inefficient procedures and protocols that make a company less productive than it could be or should be. It may also mean putting in the research – or delegating that work to a business analyst, market research analyst or another employee with the skills and aptitude to do so – to look for new opportunities to bring money into the business.
Having a background in organizational leadership helps you keep these plans realistic and consider the human side of plans. A manager who looks only at the bottom line may end up setting goals for productivity or cost-cutting that are unattainable or that ask more than is reasonable out of your workforce. When you approach strategic management planning with a leader’s focus on relationships and workforce development, you’re less likely to lose sight of the reality that your human resources are just that – human.
Realistic expectations matter. Although slashing your workforce or workers’ hours and ramping up productivity may improve the bottom line in the short term, the employee turnover that results from unrealistic expectations is bad for business in the long run.