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What is Organizational Leadership?

As a popular business sub-field, many colleges and universities offer a business degree or organizational leadership program. An organizational leadership major helps students develop a wide variety of knowledge and skills that can be applied in many different settings. Graduates tend to be highly versatile professionals capable of working in organizational leadership roles for companies and organizations in most industries. While outcomes vary, individuals who possess organizational leadership degrees commonly enjoy high-paying management careers.

There are many different kinds of organizational leader. In fact, businesses of all types hire these professionals to perform a wide variety of tasks. As a result, it’s important that those interested in this profession review job standards and expectations carefully prior to submitting applications.

In most cases, organizational leadership professionals help companies and organizations operate more successfully. They are often instrumental in ensuring that overall business goals are met. As they can work in almost industry, it’s important to realize that their daily duties can vary significantly from job to job. In most cases, however, they are responsible for determining how even small decisions will impact overall efficiency, productivity, and staff morale. These professionals may also be expected to oversee the work of others. This often entails promoting productive workspaces, as well as verifying that tasks are completed correctly and in a timely manner. Organizational leadership frequently works to ensure staff members feel supported by their employers.

With so many different responsibilities, organizational leadership professionals must possess many skills. The most successful individuals in this field are often highly proficient in communication, problem-solving, strategy, creative thinking, and management. They also tend to benefit from extensive knowledge in business. Notably, work settings generally depend on the type of position obtained and the industry selected. Many professionals in this field are employed by nonprofits, large corporations, small businesses, and the government.

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Online Organizational Leadership Education in Kentucky

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for organizational leadership or management occupations is projected to grow 8% from 2021 to 2031. This is faster than the average for all professions and will result in an increase of about 883,900 new jobs over the decade. Including the replacement of workers who retire or change career fields, approximately 1.1 million management openings are expected each year.

Organizational leadership graduates may also qualify to apply for employment in many business and finance professions. Growth for these occupations is comparable, with an expected 7% increase from 2021 to 2031. This will result in an additional 980,200 applicable job openings each year.

Prospective professionals should realize that employment prospects vary by occupation, with some professions performing better than others even in organizational leadership roles. While industrial production manager employment rates are projected to grow by only 2% by 2031, job available for computer and information systems managers is expected to increase by 16% in the same timeframe. Medical and health services managers are projected to do even better, with an anticipated growth rate of 28% over the next decade. This is much faster than average for all occupations.

Professional and business services is the fourth largest industry in Kentucky, accounting for $17.9 billion in revenue each year. As a result, it’s likely that organizational leadership professionals will be able to find plenty of employment opportunities in the state. This is especially true because many companies and organizations are eager to hire candidates with strong organizational leadership skills. Organizational leadership jobs may also be available in manufacturing, real estate, educational services, healthcare, wholesale, retail, finance, transportation, construction, and entertainment.

Based on data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 101,520 organizational leadership and management professionals were employed in Kentucky as of May 2021. The annual mean wage for these jobs was $97,120, which is significantly above the state’s annual mean wage of $48,170 for all occupations in the state. Kentucky also employed 79,310 business and financial operations professionals with an annual mean wage of $70,620.

Many colleges and universities offer degrees in organizational leadership and other related topics. While slightly less popular than general business programs, there are still plenty of opportunities to pursue higher education in organizational leadership. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that institutional location matters. Specifically, those who plan to pursue employment in Kentucky may want to give preference to institutions offering organizational leadership degrees within the state. The curriculums offered at these colleges and universities will be much more geographically relevant, as they are likely to incorporate the standards and expectations for prospective employers in the area.

Employment requirements for organizational leadership professionals vary, but most employers in Kentucky expect candidates to have some kind of higher education degrees. Most colleges and universities offer programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, though an organizational leadership program is a bit harder to find at lower levels.

While it is possible to find entry-level jobs with limited academic experience, it’s important to realize that the professionals with more advanced degrees are likely to have the best prospects. Bachelor’s degrees are generally considered the standard for most management, business, and finance occupations. Those seeking supervisory roles, on the other hand, will have greater success with master’s and doctorate degrees.

Online Associate Degree in Leadership (AS)

Associate degrees in organizational leadership generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. These are undergraduate programs, which mean they incorporate both general liberal arts education and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but will likely cover topics in communication, mathematics, and science, as well as human resource management, employment law, organizational development, and business communications.

This type of degree can lead to entry-level employment as account managers, community relations managers, training directors, diversity specialists, and executive assistant positions. It’s important to realize, however, that opportunities may be limited. Most companies and organizations prefer to hire professionals with more education and/or experience.

While it may be possible to find employment after graduation, associate degrees in organizational leadership are better used as a means of preparing for further learning. Students tend to gain strong academic foundations, making them perfect candidates for a bachelor’s organizational leadership program.

Notably, it’s often possible to transfer academic credit earned at the associate level to bachelor’s degrees. Most colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 undergraduate credit hours from other accredited institutions. Utilizing credits previously earned can drastically decrease the number of major and elective courses needed to graduate with a more advanced degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Leadership (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. These are undergraduate programs, which mean they incorporate both general liberal arts education and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but will likely cover general education courses and topics in communication, mathematics, and science, and other foundational knowledge, as well as the leadership process, organizational environment, organizational development, communication strategies for leaders, assessment in organizations, social conflict, human relations, and negotiation. Some concentrations might require elective courses that can help expand your professional leadership capacities.

Capstone projects are frequently required, as well as practicums and/or internships with nearby businesses and organizations. It may also be possible to select concentrations in related sub-fields at this level.

Some options commonly available include:

  • Human Resource Management
  • Finance
  • Project Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management and Supervision
  • International Business

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum education requirement for management, business, and financial occupations. Graduates often qualify for a wide variety of jobs across numerous industries onec they earn a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership or other business degree. Some common opportunities include training and development managers, management analysts, sales managers, human resource managers, and industrial production managers.

Many graduates with bachelor’s degrees still desire to continue their education by enrolling in graduate school. Those interested in earning master’s degrees should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by gaining institutions.

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Online Master's Degree in Leadership (MS)

Graduate programs and master’s degrees in organizational leadership generally range from 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. General education courses are no longer incorporated into the curriculum at this academic level. It’s important to check prerequisite requirements prior to applying, however, as many programs expect candidates to already possess certain knowledge and skills, as well as providing their official transcripts of college credit hours from prior learning and resume during the admission process. A completely online program offers flexibility while still giving students access to the same outcome of a degree in organizational leadership.

While every institution is different, students can typically expect to take classes that focus specifically on topics relevant to the field. Instruction in organizational leadership theory, organizational behavior, human relations, human resource management, and marketing is common. Those enrolled may also learn about organizational sustainability, digital media and marketing, political science, and diversity and conflict in the workplace through elective courses. All of these are aimed at improving your professional leadership capacities.

Capstone projects may be necessary and students are often encouraged to participate in internships with nearby businesses and organizations. Many colleges and universities allow those enrolled to differentiate their academic experiences by selecting concentrations in related subfields.

Options commonly available include:

  • Global Business
  • Human Resources Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Social Entrepreneurship

An organizational leadership degree at this level is ideal for those seeking to enhance their current position or looking for employment as business executives, management consultants, school principals, human resources managers, training and development managers, and administrative services managers. Graduates are typically considered qualified to pursue leadership and management positions in both the public and private sectors. In most cases, possessing a master’s degree will make candidates much more competitive, which can lead to more employment opportunities and higher pay. Individuals who plan to pursue certain professional certifications will also benefit from completing graduate school programs.

Online PhD Degree in Leadership (PhD)

A PhD or doctorate in organizational leadership generally consists of between 60 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. These are high-level, terminal degrees that are frequently academically intensive. While every curriculum is different, most programs start by requiring students to study various topics in organizational design, education law, finance, strategic management of non-profit organizations, collaborative leadership and partnership, global perspectives in leadership, and leadership theory and practice. In addition to classroom instruction, those enrolled should also anticipate conducting independent study and research. These degrees typically culminate with the defense of a written dissertation before a board of professors.

This type of organizational leadership degree is ideal for those seeking employment as training and development managers, postsecondary teachers, top executives, organizational development consultants, and organizational developmental directors. Graduates often possess the knowledge and skills needed to secure extremely successful careers in leadership and business.

Become a Leadership Professional in Kentucky

As previously mentioned, a degree in organizational leadership can actually lead to a wide variety of career opportunities. However, every occupation is unique, with different qualifications and responsibilities. As a result, it’s important to consider your professional options carefully when determining which jobs align best with your ultimate goals. Identifying your preferred profession early has many benefits. Not only can you research industry standards and requirements, but you will be better prepared to select the most appropriate degree program as well. Additionally, you will know which elective courses, minor areas of study, extracurricular activities, and/or internships are most likely to impress prospective employers when your focus is on organizational leadership.

Once you earn the necessary degree(s) needed to qualify for your intended profession, you will be ready to begin applying for organizational leadership positions in Kentucky. There are, however, a couple ways to distinguish yourself from others in the field. For example, it’s often beneficial to obtain one or more relevant professional certifications. While these are rarely required for employment, these credentials can demonstrate general competence, as well as specialized knowledge and skills in relevant sub-fields.

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There are many certifications to choose from, whether you are focusing your certification on organizational leadership or not, but the Certified Business Manager (CBM) credential is particularly popular among organizational leadership professionals. Individuals who achieve this designation are known to possess elite operational management skills, which are highly valued in most workplaces. In fact, demand for this certification is so high that many Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs incorporate it into their curriculums.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) oversees another prominent certification: Project Management Professional (PMP). Many organizational leadership professionals pursue this credential to demonstrate the ability to successfully manage projects of varying types and sizes.

It’s also common for organizational leaders to join professional organizations and associations relevant to the field. Becoming a member of a prominent body is often very beneficial. While every membership is different, most offer discounts for developmental opportunities, access to related academic journals, invitations to networking events, and much more.

There are many options available, but three of the most popular groups for professionals include:

  • Institute of Management Consultants (IMC)
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)

Potential Careers for Leadership Graduates

  • Business Administrator
    Administrative services managers help companies and organizations coordinate office personnel and services in order to improve overall efficiency. They are often in charge of various administrative aspects in the office, including the supervision of staff members. They may also be expected to distribute mail, ensure office machines are properly maintained, keep records, conduct office supply inventories, order needed items, and schedule interviews. According to PayScale, administrative services managers make an average base salary of $63,629 per year.
  • Business Consultant
    Business consultants provide companies and organizations with optimized plans to improve overall efficiency and address various issues. They often teach existing employees how to utilize various techniques and software to enhance productivity. Notably, they are most frequently hired to provide assistance and expertise during the start-up process for businesses, although they may be brought in to address specific aspects for struggling companies, as well. According to PayScale, business consultants make an average base salary of $77,610 per year.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
    Chief executive officers (CEOs) oversee entire organizations. They are typically responsible for making most business-related decisions, as well as supervising the performance of other high-ranking individuals under their employ. Duties vary, but more are expected to provide good leadership, guidance, and management as they formulate and enforce various strategic plans for staff members. According to PayScale, chief executive officers make an average base salary of $156,359 per year.
  • Community Organizer
    Community organizers are hired by companies and organizations to coordinate and manage group members in order to achieve various desirable outcomes. They often create and promote targeted public awareness campaigns but may also work to secure support from leadership. They sometimes procure resource access for other employees, as well as recruiting, screening, and training new team members. In some cases, community organizers are tasked with giving dynamic presentations on pertinent topics. According to PayScale, community organizers make an average base salary of $54,328 per year.
  • Healthcare Administrator
    Healthcare administrators oversee the performance of nurses and nursing assistants in hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and primary-care medical practices. These professionals frequently coordinate staff training and conduct performance reviews for subordinates. They may also be tasked with ensuring that their assigned area maintains proper accreditation. According to PayScale, healthcare administrators make an average base salary of $74,452 per year.
  • Information Systems (IS) Manager
    Information systems (IS) managers are often placed in charge of one or more IT departments. These professionals are responsible for overseeing numerous tasks, including hiring, reviewing, and firing non-management employees. They may also be expected to plan, direct, and coordinate various developmental opportunities. It’s common for them to implement and deploy information systems and technical solutions as needed. According to PayScale, information systems managers make an average base salary of $87,257 per year.
  • Training and Development Manager
    Training and development managers are hired by companies and organizations in order to improve overall internal effectiveness. They provide recommendations regarding various training and professional development opportunities for employees. They may also be tasked with conducting one-on-one meetings with workers, as well as leading and/or organizing relevant workshops. It’s not uncommon for managers of this type to facilitate team-building exercises as well. According to PayScale, training and develop managers make an average base salary of $79,040 per year.
  • Management Analyst
    Management analysts are hired by companies and organizations to conduct organizational studies and evaluations. They generally perform work simplification and measurement studies and design various systems and procedures to be applied. They may also be expected to teach other employees how to use new forms and/or procedures, and prepare manuals to help increase efficiency and effectiveness in the future. According to PayScale, management analysts make an average base salary of $69,019 per year.

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