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The Top 4 Careers in Leadership


More than ever, domestic and globally positioned organizations are looking for ambitious individuals who understand the dynamics of successful, effective leadership. These individuals recognize and develop the skills needed to drive progress, establish collaborative organizational goals, and motivate others to strive for success. To help prepare for a career in leadership, students and working professionals can enroll in graduate programs to sharpen their core skills, advance their emotional intelligence, hone their ability to communicate and deepen their understanding of organizational strategies and leadership theories. With an advanced degree in leadership, graduates possess the education and skills necessary to pursue careers in the following four high-level leadership positions.

Director of Operations

An organization’s director of operations is responsible for developing and implementing all operational policies and procedures, planning and managing budgets for daily operations and ongoing projects, making investment decisions, delegating tasks to departmental personnel, and overseeing projects. Furthermore, they are often called upon to work in a hands-on capacity when and if an organization becomes understaffed during periods of heightened productivity, transition or crisis. Directors of operations are also expected to successfully implement training programs and strategies to educate managers and employees across their organizations.

The position of director of operations requires accountability, a willingness to work long hours when necessary, and advanced leadership skills. Directors of operations are required to lead by example, and the success of the organization hinges on their interpersonal skills and organizational abilities. As part of a leadership team, directors or operations must possess finely-honed core skills that allow them to maintain the delicate balance between leading subordinates, collaborating with other members of the leadership team, and answering to the board of executives. As the demands of this career continue to grow, individuals who have gained the communication and leadership skills characteristic of a graduate-level degree, such as a Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Leadership, are highly sought after. The outlook for efficient directors of operations continues to grow as competition intensifies in many industries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2016, the average annual salary for directors of operations was $139,102. Averages varied by industry, with directors of operations of professional companies making around $159,220, and those working in tech-related industries earning around $164,970. Average salaries were even higher for individuals working in financial services and insurance sectors.

Corporate Recruiter

Corporate recruiters work within human resource departments to search for qualified, talented individuals whose skills and experience best fit an organization’s available positions. Corporate recruiters often take a position of leadership while helping organizations translate their staffing needs into clearly outlined job roles that will attract quality candidates. To remain cost-effective, recruiters make use of recruiting tools and techniques that allow them to access candidates whose skills closely match those in the job description; subsequently, recruiters communicate with hiring personnel to determine top candidates before reaching out to them to schedule interviews. In order to successfully evaluate candidates, corporate recruiters must be strong leaders who possess excellent judgment and the ability to discern character, integrity and professionalism in others. Recruiters should leverage these skills when interviewing candidates, speaking with prospects at recruitment events, or corresponding through emails and other digital communications.

Compensation for corporate recruiters can vary based on industry and location, but the average salary in the United States can be estimated at $58,000 annually. Those working in government, or science and technology-related organizations, tend to receive a higher salary. Organizations looking to hire these professionals seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree in either human resources or business management. Those who obtain an MBA or Master of Science in Leadership degree are certain to stand out, as some organizations require a graduate-level degree for employment given the importance that strong leadership plays in recruiting new talent.

Vice President of Human Resources

The overarching role of human resources encompasses a range of duties that help keep an organization running smoothly by making sure staffing requirements are being met. These individuals are also responsible for leading a positive organizational culture, guiding employees through organizational changes, initiating reward programs and enacting organizational policies. Managing employee relations is a primary function of the vice president of HR and includes a range of responsibilities, from conflict resolution, remediation and termination to negotiating compensation and work-related benefits. Aside from employee relations, this role also entails remaining vigilant about company compliance with labor laws, staying current regarding frequent changes to regulations, and educating others across the organization about these rules.

Individuals looking to be considered for the position of vice president of HR will find a Master of Science in Leadership degree particularly useful, as it can help synthesize the knowledge and skills needed for leading and influencing employees at all levels of an organization. Having the proper level of education is important for facing the challenges of the position, and can also result in lucrative salaries; on average, the vice president of human resources can earn anywhere from $85,000 to $200,000 annually.

Social Entrepreneur

Social entrepreneurship is a unique career defined by talented, ambitious individuals who are passionate about creating positive social change. This progressive ideology entails applying effective, business-like approaches to addressing problems that exist in society. Success as a social entrepreneur requires the power and determination to lead and influence others while focusing on leading cultural change that impacts entire communities and eventually, the world at large.

Many social entrepreneurs launch nonprofit organizations aimed at addressing a range of issues, or start for-profit companies in service of lofty social goals. Not only must they be strong influential leaders, but they must also be creative innovators who can channel a great deal of energy into new approaches to solving systemic problems. With manifold issues impacting modern society, from environmental concerns to social unrest surrounding poverty and violence, social entrepreneurs are taking it upon themselves to lead the change that is needed in our world while simultaneously creating jobs along the way.

Helping organizations become or remain successful requires strong leadership skills and the ability to inspire change. In order to prosper in an increasingly fast-paced corporate world, individuals must have the leadership skills necessary to stand head and shoulders above the competition; pursuing an advanced degree in leadership can help equip individuals to face the imminent challenges that accompany these leadership positions.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Leadership program is designed to help you demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to lead teams and inspire progress, while also growing your career. The program is practical and pertinent, allowing students to apply leadership concepts immediately to their careers.

Recommended Readings
6 Ways Leaders Can Improve Team Productivity
Director of Compliance: Building a Culture of Compliance Through Leadership
8 Great Government Leaders of the Past Century


What is social entrepreneurship?, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Chief Executives, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), PayScale

Vice President (VP), Human Resources (HR), PayScale

Human Resources Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Entrepreneurship and the U.S. Economy, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Director, Operations, Society for Human Resource Management

Corporate Recruiter, Recruiter.com

Vice President, HR, Society for Human Resource Management

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