With a master’s degree in organizational leadership, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, you can rise to high-level roles in leadership and management. It’s difficult to imagine a leadership role that a master’s degree in organizational leadership wouldn’t help you attain. However, graduates of these programs are perhaps best-suited for roles that involve C-suite general leadership, people-focused roles like human resources manager or corporate trainer and jobs outside the corporate world, such as school principal.
C-Suite Roles With a Master’s in Organizational Leadership
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The distinction between leadership and management is a subtle one, but having a master’s degree in leadership puts you in a great position to become Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company. In this role, you would serve as the top-ranking executive director of a company, leading its overarching direction and goals, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A CEO role takes more than excellence in the daily duties of managing a company’s operations. The CEO is the one who shapes a company’s vision, mission and internal structure and policies. Navigating changes and establishing big-picture goals and the steps to meeting them requires true leadership skills.
While a candidate with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) background is also a strong competitor for a CEO role, their skills may actually be a better fit for other C-suite roles, like Chief Financial Officer (CFO) due to the emphasis on finances over people.
Human Resources Manager
It’s difficult to think of a leadership role that focuses more on people and relationships within the organization than human resources manager. Human resources, personnel psychology and conflict negotiation are among the subjects that commonly make up the curriculum of an organizational leadership master’s degree program. HR managers are the ones who oversee the recruitment, training, and development of the organization’s workers. Human resources directors may take a high-level view of recruitment and workforce development needs and practices, while HR managers at lower levels may have more hands-on job duties, such as interviewing job applicants and planning training and development programs.
Human resources managers enjoy a $121,220 median annual salary and a faster than average rate of job growth as of 2019, according to the BLS.
Great leaders also inspire workers in an organization to learn and grow their skills. That’s why many organizational leaders go on to become corporate trainers, a type of training and development specialist. You could also work toward a training and development manager role for an added boost to your earning potential, seniority and responsibilities. Corporate trainers in specialist-level roles have more of a hands-on part in developing the skills of the workforce, while training and development managers perform more of the administrative duties of overseeing training staff and coordinating the implementation of training programs.
The BLS reported a $62,700 median wage for training and development specialists and a $115,640 median wage for training and development managers.
One benefit of studying organizational leadership is that you gain the skills to lead all kinds of organizations, not just corporations. This degree path is one possible way to prepare for the role of a school principal while still keeping your career options open. Although many school principals come from more specialized degree programs, like a master’s in educational leadership, that focus isn’t necessary, especially if you already have a background in teaching. School principals handle the high-level daily operations and the overall direction of a school at the kindergarten through twelfth-grade level.
School principals make a median wage of $98,490 per year, according to the BLS.
Using an Organizational Leadership Degree to Succeed in Traditional Management Roles
You can also leverage the skills you gain through an organizational leadership program to become managers in less people-focused capacities if you like. For example, you might seek other management roles like sales and industrial production. These roles might focus on more management-oriented tasks like meeting sales or production quotas. However, your background in organizational leadership can help you better connect with sales personnel and manufacturing plant workers and determine how to lead your department with strategies that build relationships and bring out the best in workers.
Even in more specialized management roles, candidates with a background in organizational leadership, as opposed to business administration and management, tend to work in more people-focused capacities. For example, you might work as a health services manager, overseeing the work of healthcare professionals, instead of a role like hospital administrator, which aligns more with the perspective of an MBA and places more focus on coordinating medical services and boosting productivity and efficiency.
Some graduates of organizational leadership master’s programs pivot to non-management roles like management analyst, in which they act in a role similar to consulting and collaborate with managers to improve a company’s operations.
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