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What Is Organizational Leadership?

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Organizational change may be necessary for any number of conceivable reasons—advancements in technology, changes in laws and regulations or shifting beliefs about an organization’s responsibility to its employees or the greater community. For this reason, strong organizational leadership skills can be of great benefit to managers trying to bring about or navigate change.

What Is Organizational Leadership, and Why Is it Important?

Organizational leadership is more than just management. Management generally refers to tasks like supervising employees or ensuring that certain quotas are met. Organizational leadership, however, refers to the ability to guide or motivate people within an organization to work toward accomplishing a strategic goal.

A true leader can help build a strong organizational culture. Strong organizational culture and leadership are important because without them, an organization—whether it be a small business, large corporation, or non-profit organization—may struggle to harness the strengths of its workers and achieve its vision or objectives.

Organizational Leadership Jobs and Potential Career Paths

Because all types of organizations need to set strategic goals and motivate their employees to work to accomplish them, organizational leadership jobs—or at least roles that have organizational leadership aspects to them—can be found everywhere.

Though organizational leadership career paths are not specifically addressed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the BLS does collect information on various management occupations—and managers often utilize organizational leadership skills. For instance, a human resources manager might consult with company executives regarding strategic planning and talent management, helping to identify ways to maximize employee value and ensure their efficient utilization.1 Meanwhile, a medical and health services manager might develop a goal to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction and then hire, train and motivate staff to meet this goal.2

Organizational Leadership Salary and Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for management occupations was $102,450 in May 2021—the highest wage of all the major occupational groups. They project employment growth of 8 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is expected to result in approximately 883,900 new jobs over the decade.3

Organizational Leadership Degree Programs

While master’s in organizational leadership and doctorate in organizational leadership programs are offered at some schools, it’s also common to find graduate-level management degree programs that offer an organizational leadership degree concentration.

Colorado Technical University’s Master of Science in Management—Organizational Leadership and Change degree program is designed to help you grow your organizational and change management skills and knowledge. Whether you manage or lead a small group or large organization, the curriculum—which is grounded in different management theories—focuses on practical knowledge and skills-building. Courses in the organizational leadership degree concentration include:

  • Introduction to Organizational Leadership and Change
  • Strategic Change Management
  • Foundation of Organizational Design
  • Leadership and Organizational Power
  • Management Capstone

CTU’s Doctor of Management—Organizational Development and Change degree program offers an opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills in working with human systems to achieve change goals. You can study how to respond to unanticipated change as well as how to progress from the status quo to a desired state. The organizational development doctorate concentration includes courses on:

  • Organizational Strategy & Design
  • Current Topics in Organizational Development
  • Leading and Managing Large Scale Transformation
  • System Thinking and Decision Making
  • Advanced Career Strategies for the Scholar-Practitioner

Organizational Leadership Skills and Traits

There are five generally accepted leadership styles, each with its own pros and cons:

  1. Authoritarian leadership:

    Leaders who employ the authoritarian leadership style make decisions with little to no team input. This style is useful when the decision-maker is an expert, when time is in short supply or when a team needs clear guidelines. However, this style can stifle a team’s creativity and collaboration.

  2. Participative leadership:

    A participative leadership style encourages team participation and input in the decision-making process. This style can boost employee engagement and satisfaction and lead to higher productivity, but it can also be time-consuming, result in poor decisions and cause miscommunications.

  3. Delegative leadership:

    This leadership style results in handing off responsibilities or initiatives to team members. If the members are competent and enjoy the responsibility, a positive work environment in which team members feel their innovation and experience are valued can result. A loosely defined or undefined chain of command and internal disagreements are potential downsides.

  4. Transactional leadership:

    The transactional leadership style is essentially a give-and-take approach. The leader sets specific achievable goals, and team members are motivated to meet those goals by the promise of a reward or punishment. While this leadership style is easy to carry out and understand, it doesn’t promote individual thinking or help employees develop their own leadership skills.

  5. Transformational leadership

    The transformational leadership style encourages and inspires team members to achieve a particular vision. Transformational leadership values corporate vision and places great emphasis on employee relationship and engagement.

Understanding when to use each style is a skill that can be developed.

Organizational leaders also need to think strategically. Essential strategic leadership skills include the ability to:4

  • Anticipate threats and opportunities
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Interpret all available information to see the big picture and find new insight
  • Make decisions based on a deliberate decision-making process
  • Align various stakeholders in support of a decision, even when those stakeholders are not initially in agreement
  • Learn from successes and failures

A business program that focuses on organizational management could help you increase your managerial self-awareness and understanding of different leadership styles and strategic change management.

Interested in learning how to more effectively lead, motivate and bring about strategic change? Check out CTU’s online Master’s in Management—Organizational Leadership and Change and Doctorate in Management—Organizational Development and Change degree programs.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Human Resources Managers,” (visited 1/5/2023).
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Medical and Health Services Managers,” (visited 1/5/2023).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Management Occupations,” (visited 1/5/2023). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
4 Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Steve Krupp, & Samantha Howland, “Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills,” Harvard Business Review (Jan.–Feb. 2013), (visited 1/5/2023).

CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1890106 1/2023

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