What Is Organizational Leadership?

These last few years have proven to be difficult for organizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted every industry, with some still feeling the effects today. On top of that, companies have had to endure job hopping, return-to-office pushback, supply chain issues, and rising inflation. Now, with rapid digital transformation—led by artificial intelligence (AI)—and increasingly difficult economic times, businesses are again hurled into a period of struggle and unknown.

It’s times like this where organizational leadership proves why it’s so crucial.

Defining Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership is the practice of guiding and managing individuals and/or teams to implement strategic plans for an organization. It involves setting a vision, defining strategies, and making decisions to propel the organization forward. In other words, organizational leaders are expected to provide direction, inspire and motivate employees, and cultivate a positive work culture.

Effective organizational leadership encompasses various leadership styles and ideas to fit a team’s unique needs, goals, and challenges. Successful leadership will positively shape culture, foster innovation, and ensure efficient business operations.

Why Is Organizational Leadership Important?

Think of organizational leadership as a GPS. It sets the destination, guides the way, and recalculates the route when obstacles appear. Without a GPS, a vehicle will struggle.

Similarly, without leadership, an organization will struggle. Organizational leadership is responsible for:

  • Providing a clear vision
  • Making critical decisions
  • Managing change and crisis
  • Motivating teams
  • Allocating resources efficiently
  • Enhancing productivity and engagement
  • Encouraging innovation
  • Supporting talent development
  • Succession planning
  • Representing the organization
  • Maintaining accountability
  • Ensuring long-term sustainability and success

Negative Trends Indicate Org. Leadership Isn’t as Valued Today

However, despite being so critical, organizational leadership is trending in the wrong direction. When analyzing recent leadership statistics, the future doesn’t appear too bright for organizations. According to TeamStage, almost 80% of companies report having a leadership gap and only 5% have a leadership development program implemented at all levels.

What this means is that there’s a split between the leadership skills an organization requires for success and the skills possessed by its current or potential leaders for the majority of companies. And, only a slim amount of those organizations have constructed the proper training to bolster leadership development. Because of this (among other reasons), many business experts and organization leaders fear this leadership gap will linger for at least the next five years.

This is a large part of why organizational leadership is so important today: too many companies aren’t practicing or fostering leadership growth. As a result, organizations aren’t well managed, and that can unravel into bigger issues, because:

  • “70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager” (Gallup)
  • “Companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable” (Haiilo)
  • “51% of Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to have quit a job because of a bad manager” (Udemy)

Simply put, poor organizational leadership leads to poor employee engagement—which can lead to decreased profitability and/or higher turnover.

What Is Organizational Leadership Graphic

How to Develop in Organizational Leadership

The good news is that organizational leadership can be taught, implemented, and refined.

Popular learning methods include college programs (such as UC Online’s Organizational Leadership degree), professional coaching, or workshops and seminars. Then, leadership students can take what they learn and apply it in the workplace and in other personal relationships—thus, continuously refining their skills.

Organizational leadership education focuses on:

  • Leadership theories
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Strategic thinking
  • Team building
  • Change management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Motivation and employee engagement
  • Ethical leadership
  • Organizational culture
  • And more

Another great characteristic of organizational leadership education is that it’s applicable to virtually everyone. Unlike other fields that are more technical or specific (such as accounting or information systems), organizational leadership extends beyond traditional, official management roles. It can be used in various aspects of life, including community engagement, entrepreneurship and innovation, parenting and family dynamics, and more.

For this reason and more, organizational leadership is quickly becoming one of the most popular and relevant standardized learning programs.

Examples of Effective Leadership Skills

It takes an intentional leader to manage people, resources, and operations. So, being successful requires a blend of hard skills (specific, quantifiable abilities) and soft skills (interpersonal, non-technical abilities).

These are some of the most common leadership skills it takes to be an effective organizational leader:

Leadership Hard Skills

  • Strategic planning: Leaders need to be able to formulate and execute long-term strategies.
  • Financial management: It’s up to an organization’s leader to budget and allocate resources correctly.
  • Process improvement: Finding inefficiencies and streamlining work processes can increase productivity, save money, and improve employee engagement.
  • Data analysis: In 2024, there’s more data than ever previously imagined; it’s up to strategic leaders to identify the meaningful data and interpret the metrics to make informed decisions.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Additionally, legal and regulatory compliance is becoming more and more complicated as the digital age evolves.

Leadership Soft Skills

  • Communication: Great leaders listen actively, speak effectively, and write clearly to convey their or their team’s ideas.
  • Emotional intelligence: Another growing trend of effective leadership is the ability to recognize and manage one’s emotions as well as others’ emotions.
  • Adaptability: If COVID-19, remote work, AI, and other recent business developments have taught us anything it’s that leaders must be willing and eager to embrace change and uncertainty.
  • Time management: It’s no secret that leaders (particularly managers) have a lot on their plate; therefore, they need to possess strong time management skills to prioritize tasks, set goals, and improve the organization.
  • Team building: Finally, organizational leadership includes productive team building to nurture a high-performing group.

While organizational leadership education is the start of developing these skills, they’re all refined through continuous application, feedback, reflection, and reimplementation. This continual learning aspect is what separates good leaders from great ones.

Why Choose Organizational Leadership?

Intentionally learning organizational leadership can open doors both professionally and personally. It positions you to advance within your organization, expands other career opportunities, and increases earning potential. Personally, org. leadership education can foster personal development, leadership in everyday life, positive influence, and more.

“Organizational leadership is a versatile degree,” explains Dr. Megan Church-Nally, an Associate Professor in UC’s Department of Psychology. “It incorporates a social science and interdisciplinary orientation that makes one competitive in any industry as a traditional student or a seasoned professional. With courses focused on developing critical thinking skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, leadership skills, teamwork skills, and global awareness skills, students are equipped with a unique perspective that organizations crave in their leaders.”

An organizational leadership degree, education, and career are focused on the whole person. It’s not something to prioritize just from 9 to 5, but rather it bleeds into all aspects of someone’s life. It’s a multifaceted field that’ll make anyone a better and more sought-after leader.

Hear from UC faulty about why more students are choosing Organizational Leadership to advance their career:

Potential Org. Leadership Careers

Because an organizational leadership degree is so flexible, it can be applied to a wide range of careers. Yet, there are certain fields and jobs that tend to include more org. leadership graduates. For instance, 6 departments that benefit from organizational leadership expertise include:

  • Talent Development (TD)
  • Learning & Development (L&D)
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Operations
  • Organizational Development (OD)

From these 6 departments, the most common organizational leadership careers are:

  • Management Analyst
      • Median annual wage: $95,290
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 9% or higher
  • Marketing Managers
      • Median annual wage: $140,040
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 5-8%
  • Human Resource Managers
      • Median annual wage: $130,000
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 5-8%
  • Training and Development Managers
      • Median annual wage: $120,000
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 5-8%
  • Fundraising Managers
      • Median annual wage: $107,390
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 5-8%
  • Project Coordinator
      • Median annual wage: $95,370
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 5-8%
  • Sales Managers
      • Median annual wage: $130,600
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 2-4%
  • Industrial Production Manager
      • Median annual wage: $107,560
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 2-4%
  • Loan Officers
      • Median annual wage: $65,740
      • Projected growth (2022-2032): 2-4%
  • Chief Executive
    • Median annual wage: $189,520
    • Projected growth (2022-2032): -2% or lower

Note: Salary and growth information from O*NET Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

You Can Easily Learn Org. Leadership Online

Today’s digital and fast-paced world calls for learning on your schedule. With the University of Cincinnati Online’s asynchronous classes, you can earn your organizational leadership degree 100% online without having to miss a beat in your current professional life or personal life.

Whether you’re a mid-career professional looking for a way to advance your career, an individual seeking professional development, a full-time parent eager to get back to school, or any stage in between, UC Online is here for you. Our programs give you the flexible education you need today to revolutionize your future.

Take the First Step Toward Transforming Your Career (and Life) with an Organizational Leadership Degree

If you’re ready to learn more about UC Online’s renowned BA in Organizational Leadership program, get in touch with us. Your own personal Enrollment Services Advisor is eager to help you.

Contact us through our online form, email, or phone at (833) 347-5495.

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