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What is Organizational Leadership?

Business leadership starts at the lowest levels of industry and extends up to the C-suites. Even among entry-level workers, leaders start to emerge. Then, when an opening arises, one of these leaders moves up into management. In a leadership position, professionals need to be able to make the most of their staff's potential, while also maintaining an eye on the bottom line. In fact, the best leaders know how to foster growth in their employees while simultaneously creating profit and growth for their firm.

To become a leader in business it is therefore vital to have a deep understanding of business fundamentals. That includes everything from inventory control and supply chain efficiencies to sales data and even Big Data. All the while, the best leaders understand how to get the best out of their workers.

This all begins in a college or university degree program that instills knowledge of business and leadership in a seamless curriculum. With the right degrees and experience, a businessperson can rise through the ranks of management all the way into the C-suites. Thus, no matter if you are an accountant, marketing professional, information systems expert, or sales manager, you can rise to the top.

The Arkansas business environment includes representation from nearly every sort of industry. The state is a leader in areas such as Manufacturing, Professional and Business Services, Meat Processing, and Petroleum Refining. It also supports vigorous activity in Healthcare and Agriculture. For each of these, the state needs strong leaders from the business community to ensure that the state economy thrives.

Below we discuss the various ways to achieve a position of leadership through academic achievements but also the specific industries and careers where your talents can flourish. They say that great leaders are made, not born. With that in mind, it's vital to find the best business education that you can so that your innate talents can develop and grow.

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Online Organizational Leadership Education in Arkansas

Online Associate Degree in Leadership (AS)

If you are eager to start your career you can earn a two-year associate degree in leadership from an Arkansas community college. Since this is somewhat of a rare degree, you may also look for leadership degrees offered through online programs across the nation. If your local community college doesn't offer a degree in leadership or organizational leadership, you might first start with an associate degree in business administration or management.

There are other ways to start building a leadership resume, however. You could major in entrepreneurship and start your own enterprise. Another way is to join clubs or associations that provide leadership opportunities. This way you can start building a record of leadership experience that will not only help with your resume, but with your application to a full four-year degree program.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Leadership (BS)

Increasingly, four-year business degree programs are offering a bachelors in organizational leadership. When you complete a full four-year undergraduate degree in business with a leadership concentration you will find many employment opportunities in companies that need managers and management trainees. You might even focus your leadership skills on work in government or for non-profit organizations. Keep in mind that you can likely defer your student loans if you work in government or for a non-profit.

If your college or university doesn't offer a leadership degree, you might be able to craft a course of study that will help you achieve your goals. For instance, you might take courses in Organizational Psychology, Business Management, and Communications. Your school may also offer coursework in Educational Leadership. Discuss these options with your academic adviser and discover what is possible. If you are able to create your own major or a minor to complement your management degree, that alone will speak volumes in an interview.

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Online Master's Degree in Leadership (MS)

Once you have completed a bachelor’s degree in leadership, organizational leadership, or even educational leadership you might want to continue onward and enroll in a graduate organizational leadership degree program. Perhaps the best way to pursue leadership positions is to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Leadership. This degree may also be called an MBA in Organizational Leadership. Regardless, when you combine the technical business curriculum with leadership, you'll be prepared for a spot in the C-suites.

You can find MBA Leadership programs throughout Arkansas, but also online. There are also Executive MBA programs that offer leadership concentrations. These programs are typically structured to help accommodate working executives. Thus, they conduct classes at night, on weekends, and online. Frequently, Executive MBA programs offer multiple solutions for their busy students.

Online PhD Degree in Leadership (PhD)

If you already have an MBA in a non-leadership subject, such as Finance or Marketing, you might consider a PhD in Leadership. These programs allow you to focus clearly on leadership as a subject unto itself. In fact, you will find leadership doctoral degrees that focus on Education, Business, Social Justice, Politics, and more.

There are leadership doctoral programs popping up all over the nation, including Arkansas. You might even find an Arkansas leadership program that offers a hybrid solution so you can attend to your business while achieving a top degree. Keep in mind that this topic might be included in management degree programs and is surely an inherent part of any strong business curriculum.

Become a Leadership Professional in Arkansas

If you want to become a leadership professional in Arkansas, you will want to complete a bachelor’s degree, at a minimum. However, your long-term success will find better support with an MBA in Leadership. That degree will provide you with fundamental business knowledge on a graduate level that surpasses any undergraduate degree. The program will then add a year (or so) of courses that focus on leadership. Thus, when you graduate, you'll have the skills you need to rise into upper-level management or even into the C-suites.

An Arkansas leadership degree can help you excel in a wide range of industries, organizations, and even government. Leaders are needed throughout the range of businesses and Arkansas organizations. Your leadership skills and academic degree will come in handy in construction management, retail management, healthcare systems, education, politics, government, finance, real estate, and more. During your years in school, you may want to target up to three areas that interest you the most. Try to make this a diverse bunch and include either a non-profit sector or government. This way you'll have insights that can lead your career towards what is your top priority. Furthermore, the diverse knowledge base can help inform your decisions regardless of where you make your career.

When you combine your training in leadership with a fundamental educational background in business, you will find it easy to join any sort of organization you like. People with leadership degrees are found throughout the non-profit sector, government, business, and healthcare. Naturally, if you have a specific focus in mind when you enter a program, you can tailor your degree to ease your transition into that special area, but that is not necessary.

This is not to say that all businesses or organizations are the same. They certainly all have their different attributes and those should be honored. However, if you are dedicated to leading people to be their best, that fundamental motivation will shine through. If you are changing into a new or unfamiliar industry you can take time to learn what makes it unique. After all, isn't this sort of willingness to learn and change a vital part of leadership? In fact, even a move to a new Arkansas organization in your industry will require that you learn their corporate culture so that your leadership skills can take root.

Top College Programs in Arkansas for Leadership

Only some of Arkansas’ leading schools offer students the opportunity to specialize in organizational leadership through their business degree programs. Some of the available programs in the state can be seen below.

  • University of Arkansas – Fort Smith:
    The University of Arkansas campus at Fort Smith is a mid-size campus of the public state university that is located in Fort Smith, a small city that sits right on the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma. This campus awarded an incredible 118 organizational leadership certificates and bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership in 2021. Over 100 of these were bachelor’s degrees, so this is an excellent option for those looking to earn this degree. It is the second most popular major option among business program options after general business administration.
  • Arkansas Tech University:
    Arkansas Tech University is a mid-size, public university offering primarily associate degrees in Russellville, Arkansas, which is known for providing a variety of business majors options, also offers a bachelor’s degree and undergraduate certificate in organizational leadership. This program awarded 9 bachelor’s degrees and 35 undergraduate certificates in the field in 2021, suggesting that more students come here to improve their resumes in this area rather than for their primary degrees.
  • University of Arkansas:
    The University of Arkansas is a large, public university situated in the small city of Fayetteville, Arkansas with a good-sized business management program that awarded 194 bachelor’s degrees and 94 master’s degrees in 2021. This program offers a concentration in organizational leadership that students can take advantage of to gain the education they desire. The university’s finance and logistics and supply chain management majors are the most popular of its business degree offerings.
  • John Brown University:
    This small, private, not-for-profit university located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas offers an organizational leadership program that graduated around 30 students out of around 160 total business graduates in 2021. The school offers a number of excellent business degrees in business admin and management, international business, marketing, and more at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

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Careers for Leadership Graduates

  • Operations Team Leader/Manager:
    Your leadership skills will come in handy every single day when you lead an operations team. You'll need to have a firm grasp on the product you are creating as well as the team you are leading. However, an Arkansas leadership degree will certainly prepare you for a long career full of success.
  • Supply Chain Manager:
    Logistics is increasingly important in today's global economy. You will first need to be a first-rate logistician, but then you'll also need to have the leadership skills necessary to keep a team on task and performing to maximum efficiency.
  • Non-Profit Manager:
    Though there are special issues that impact non-profit organizations in particular, they are nevertheless human enterprises that need strong, wise, and capable leaders. Whether you come from the non-profit sector or private enterprise, your leadership skills will help your team achieve its goals, no matter what its mission.
  • Project Manager (Construction/IT/etc.):
    When you undertake this leadership position you will need to not only manage and lead your team of professionals, but you'll likely need to coordinate with clients as well. Most project managers are found working in consultancies where the aim is to serve specific clients. Thus, you must be able to switch your communication style from that of a team manager to that of a sales representative who is meeting client expectations.
  • Team Lead (Sales, Customer Service, etc.):
    In this position you will likely have sales goals and other metrics that your team must meet in order to achieve success. Your business acumen will come in handy as you must strategize to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of your entire team.
  • School Administrator:
    For this position, you should start your career as a licensed teacher in Arkansas. As your career progresses you will want to move up with a degree in educational leadership. If you combine this degree with an MBA, for instance, you might even be able to become the Superintendent of Schools.
  • Construction Management:
    To attain a leadership role in construction, you might first need to be a manager of a smaller crew, such as a team of electricians, plumbers, or carpenters. If you are working for a large development corporation, you could even rotate between these before you move into a position where you manage an entire development project.
  • Real Estate Broker:
    After you have spent several years selling real estate in Arkansas’ housing or commercial market, you may wish to take over your own real estate office. Brokers frequently motivate and train real estate agents to become their very best. They also have the sales knowledge and experience to help close deals when things get rough.
  • Hospitality Management:
    The hospitality industry has faced many disruptions lately, but it continues to adapt and grow. This is thanks to its leadership in management. You might manage all or part of a property in the tropics or a chic downtown hotel in a major metropolis. Nevertheless, your ability to lead everyone from the cleaning crew to the concierge will ensure long-term success at your hotel.

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