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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Organizational Leadership?

May 10, 2024
4 min Read

What is organizational leadership? Organizational leadership uses an understanding of building meaningful relationships to better facilitate common goals, conflict resolution and engaging communication to bring together people of different perspectives, backgrounds and talents.

But how do you get people to trust and follow you? Whether you’re a business manager, sports coach, leading a volunteer group or something in between, a degree in organizational leadership is one way to develop those skills

We spoke with Gretchen Oltman, JD, PhD, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program chair at Creighton University, to find out what makes a good organizational leader and what you can do with this degree.

What makes a good organizational leader?

“When people think of the word leader, they often think of someone who is just an expert in their field,” says Oltman. People may assume a leader in information technology, for example, is in that position solely due to their knowledge of and expertise in the software and applications applicable to their role. But being a great organizational leader is more than that.

“There’s a balance between being a technical expert and understanding the human element,” she says. “If you’re a technical expert but can’t raise others to follow you toward achieving a goal, it can be very difficult to succeed as a leader.”

That balance requires soft skills, which many employers are looking for, according to an article in the journal Heliyon. Those soft skills include:

  • Ethical thinking and behavior
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Problem solving

The Center for Creative Leadership takes this even further, listing the 12 essential leadership qualities as being:

  • Self-awareness
  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Learning agility
  • Collaboration
  • Influence
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Gratitude
  • Resilience

“Compassion is really important and something we teach here at Creighton,” says Oltman. “To be a good leader, you have to be caring and compassionate.”

Being a compassionate leader can help reduce your team’s stress as well as help them develop self-compassion, according to an article in Frontiers in Psychology. The authors describe self-compassion as involving “a loving, non-judgmental understanding of one’s own shortcomings, placing the perception of one’s suffering and difficulties into a larger perspective of what it means to be human.” Helping your team develop self-compassion can have a positive impact on job performance and satisfaction as well as improving team communication, according to the article.

“The more that we recognize that employees are people who have their own lives and goals, the more valued they feel and the more invested they are in the organization,” says Oltman.

Besides these soft skills, a good organizational leader also needs to believe in the idea of developing others. This means helping your team see the potential in themselves and giving them the tools and opportunities to excel in their role. It may lead to some team members either getting promoted out of their roles or leaving the company for new opportunities, but that just means you’ve done your job right.

“Sometimes we see leaders who want to keep people where they are because it's comforting, and it allows us to maintain our stability in our own lives,” Oltman says. “A good leader sees what other people are trying to do—what their hopes and dreams are, what their talents are—and really focuses on helping them hone those talents and achieve those dreams.”

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What you can do with a master’s in organizational leadership

Earning a master’s degree in organizational leadership won’t necessarily lead to a specific career. It is for individuals who wish to lead positive change in their workplace and community. This includes responsibilities such as inspiring and motivating employees or team members; anticipating and responding to internal and external challenges; and handling challenges quickly and assuredly.

“The skills that you leave with won't necessarily bucket you into one role,” says Oltman. “They can, however, open the door to opportunities beyond what you imagine.”

Earning this degree could help you move into leadership roles in a variety of organizations and businesses, including:

  • Nonprofits
  • Higher education
  • Training and development
  • Athletic departments
  • Healthcare
  • Public health
  • Government

“Many graduates stay in their current roles—whether that’s a public or private entity—and are promoted due to leadership capacity and a demonstrated understanding of others,” says Oltman. “Other students have found a new purpose.”

For example, one graduate worked in the trucking industry but found a passion for teaching while in the degree program. While he is still in trucking, he has started teaching as well. In another example, a graduate who worked in higher education started her own consulting firm to help communities in need. There were also former college athletes who graduated from the program and went on to become assistant coaches for college sports teams.

The bottom line: No matter what career path you’re on, a master’s in organizational leadership could help you move up or move on to new horizons.

Earn your master’s in organizational leadership

If you’re a lifelong learner, willing to be introspective and committed to professional and personal growth, you could be a great fit for a master’s in organizational leadership.

“Our students come from backgrounds of having grown up on a family farm, serving in the military or working in a variety of fields like marketing, insurance or education,” says Oltman. “Our students see a bigger purpose to their lives and that their identity is not all about a title and role. They know they can make a difference wherever they are, and they spend time in our courses learning and practicing how to do just that.”

If you’re interested in growing your leadership skills, learn more about Creighton’s online master’s in organizational leadership or reach out for more information.

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