Every successful business needs an effective leader and upper management team at its helm. Spending a few years working in business allows you to distinguish some of those qualities of effective leadership, helping you understand what you hope to mirror in both your current position and future career. However, some of those qualities may be hard to pinpoint at first; it might seem like a person is just a naturally-born, good leader. Maybe their presence commands a room with ease, their delegation skills offer clear directives, or they are a likable person who earns the respect of colleagues and employees. All the while, it seems hard to believe that all of the successful organizations globally – businesses, nonprofits, governmental institutions, higher education, and more – have found themselves that perfect, natural leader. There’s just no way!
Organizational leadership is, indeed, a skill that can be learned. It is passion, a love for people, and a good deal of education and experience that can create a positive leader… like you.
How can you model your career into something that both makes you proud, and contributes to a healthy and growing business environment? That is where a secondary, specific degree in leadership comes in, such as the Master’s in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) offered at Goodwin College. Let’s take a look at some of the most important organizational leadership skills you’ll adopt in our MSOL program:
- Communication skills. Leadership is the art of managing your most valuable resource: your team! With a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, you’ll learn motivational techniques, how to address risks and respond to problems, and methods of helping each individual develop their best, most productive workplace. You’ll learn how to keep communication professional, yet also how to lead with compassion and ignite inspiration in others (because again, a business is nothing without its employees).
- Encouraging teamwork. The Forbes article, “10 Unique Perspectives on What Makes a Great Leader” expresses some illuminating points of view from today’s top leaders. Randy Soderman, Founder of Soderman Marketing, says that successful leaders know that people are their key to success. That is why successful leaders not only cultivate a competent and confident team, but also are able to define and explain short and long-term goals effectively and engage employees’ character, rather than using their position of authority as a motivator towards common efforts. Through these methods, leaders ultimately develop other leaders. Knowing the team, identifying each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and addressing them in a positive way makes you not only a good leader, but also a good listener and a better visionary in developing your best resource: the people on your team.
- Big-picture team management. Good leaders are not fearful of making difficult choices such as firing and hiring, and do so with fairness. Considering the team as a machine that benefits the organization means that every part – every nut, bolt, and piston – is necessary for the machine to do its job. Learning organizational leadership skills in a Master’s program will allow you to adjust those parts effectively. Team evaluation and attention to each individual’s job will help you to identify which parts are superfluous or could be substituted for a more efficient design, and which are working overtime with commitment to the vision of the business or organization. Which pieces do you think you’ll keep? Good leaders hire and fire respectfully, and in the best interests of the business in order to cultivate the team’s total skill set. At the same time, they identify opportunities among existing employees to cultivate their skills, boost morale, build team confidence, and in turn contribute to overall efficiency. As one executive explains to Forbes, “Ultimately, leadership is not about who is in charge. It’s about making sure your team stays focused on the goals, keeping the motivated and helping them to be the best they can be to achieve those goals.”
- Change management. The Harvard Business Review stresses that change management needs to be encouraged from both the top-down and the bottom-up in organizations. Beginning with employees, leaders need to be able to understand fears related to change, as well as the type and amount of stake that these constituents have with the organization. Streamlining the path to change, and motivating by discussion in order to help employees remove those mental blocks and transform a culture of “no” into a culture of “maybe” and possibly “yes!”, is the job of good leaders.
At the same time, top-down change management asks executives to clarify their desired, specific results from change, and requires that all members of upper management agree on the direction. With a clear goal for change, “high potential team members” can be identified to foster leadership on all levels of the organization. And with structure, accountability, and support, these team leaders will help drive the process of change. It has to happen both from the bottom, as well as the top, so that the complete organization is engaged in the process.
- Crunching metrics. Change management also needs to be backed by measurable outcomes. In order to identify possibilities, leaders must crunch metrics to shape the path. In an Organizational Leadership Master’s program, you’ll learn just this. Goodwin’s MSOL curriculum offers courses on analysis and data-driven decision-making.
Business and employee evaluation is standardized in some ways, and in other ways, metrics may be flexible given the organization’s business. However, as Forbes reports, financial metrics are important in all organizations — such as sales, overhead, profit margin line, and inventory, as well as customer or constituent metrics, such as loyalty, retention, and acquisition, not to mention staff productivity. Setting numbers to these measures is part of leadership’s job.
As the Journal of Entrepreneurship reports, businesses seek leaders with passion, self-confidence, and the ability to make tough and sound decisions. In order to inspire people to follow, leaders need to command respect, but also show humility, such as admitting when they make a mistake and moving forward. Leaders are steadfast in developing protocol and policy standards, and sticking to them.
An Organizational Leadership Master’s program not only prepares individuals for executive-level leadership jobs, but also paves a fulfilling career path for compassionate and driven people. Learn more about Goodwin’s MSOL program today by calling 800-889-3282 or visiting www.goodwin.edu/majors/msol/.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.