A CEO meets with the board of directors.

What Is Organizational Leadership? Courses and Career Outlooks


The definition of a leader is highly debated in the corporate world. Schools of thought differentiate between what is a leader and manager, arguing that leaders inspire employees to follow them while a managers’ authority over staff derives from their role in the hierarchy. In the business community, leaders often are described as those who influence their companies in strategic directions that support long-term goals.

Regardless of their definition, leaders made a significant impact on organizational success. As business practices change and evolve to keep up with technology and the global market, exceptional leaders help their organizations define goals, solve problems, and create a positive working culture.

Programs like an online Master of Science in Leadership can prepare graduates with the skills and knowledge to thrive in a wide range of organizational leadership positions.

What Is Organizational Leadership?

Defining organizational leadership encompasses individuals who determine the strategic vision of an organization, set organizational goals, and resolve challenges. Another important foundational element of leadership is personal; successful leaders possess personal traits—passion, trustworthiness, empathy, and the ability to transparently communicate with employees and peers—that inspire others to perform to the best of their abilities.

A key element of successful leadership is the promotion of ethical practices. By demonstrating a commitment to ethical principles, an organizational leader can create a company culture dedicated to upholding those values, operating with integrity, and treating people with dignity.

Organizational leaders also are visionaries who understand the importance of technical innovations and business trends. Remaining current on new technologies and best practices as well as changing global markets enable leaders to share knowledge with their employees and optimize practices within their organizations.

How Norwich University Can Help Create Leaders

For professionals looking to advance their careers and pursue leadership positions, the online Master of Science in Leadership from Norwich University helps students deepen the skills and competencies associated with effective organizational leadership. Students can complete this advanced degree in as few as 18 months. They can select from among four concentrations including Organizational Leadership, which covers concepts such as organizational behavior and change management to help future leaders develop the skills to create meaningful change in their organizations.

Students in the program participate in core courses that ensure that they gain a firm understanding of key leadership principles and theories, such as:

  • Leadership FundamentalsEthical Leadership and Value-Driven Organizations. Strong ethical convictions are fundamental to leadership positions. This core course explores different theoretical leadership models, with an emphasis on ethical practices.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Leadership Style. Exceptional leaders inspire and motivate their employees through positive relationships. This core course teaches students the behavioral aspects of leading a team and how interpersonal relationships affect the overall success of an organization.
  • Leading Change in Organizations. Leaders understand that corporations must evolve to meet external demands or best practices for ongoing success. This core course provides students with a deep understanding of change management practices and strategic methods that leaders can use to prepare employees and peers for structural change.

Students enrolled in the Organizational Leadership concentration will also take these specialized courses:

  • Strategic Communication and Information Leadership. Senior leaders can communicate clearly and succinctly to different audiences, including employees, fellow leaders, and the public. Coursework helps students identify and fine-tune their communication style. Experiential learning enables students to practice their communication skills in their current jobs and, then, discuss them with their fellow students.
  • Strategic Organizational Behavior. Alignment across an organization in key areas such as strategic outlook, goals, and cultural practices is essential to developing effective organizational behaviors. The curriculum in this course discusses the importance of organizational behavior and how different organizational models can support a leader to create strategic alignment within an organization.
  • Strategic Organizational Leadership and Developing a Learning Organization. Visionary leaders accept that they need to adapt and use creative approaches to succeed in competitive environments. This concentration focuses on the application of change models that help leaders create positive results.

Careers in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leaders are in demand across different sectors, including the government, private, corporate, and non-profit organizations. Some careers that graduates of the online Master of Science in Leadership program at Norwich University have pursued include police chief, director of enrollment services, and CEO.

Police Chief

Typically, the police chief is the senior leader of a municipal police department. They work to reduce crime in their jurisdictions, manage officers, delegate assignments, supervise high-profile criminal cases, and engage with communities. They’re also often responsible for tracking and managing budgets. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary of a police chief is $72,796.

Director of Enrollment Services

Directors of enrollment services lead enrollment departments at academic institutions, working with school administrators and recruiters to improve admissions strategies for student enrollment. According to PayScale data from September 2019, a director of enrollment services earns a median annual salary of $70,625.


CEOs are the top executive leaders in organizations. While the responsibilities of a CEO vary greatly depending on the size of an organization, generally they’re responsible for complete oversight of all company operations. Tasks include directing the organization’s strategic vision and goals, ensuring that financial targets are managed and met, supervising other executive members and department leaders, and representing the organization externally to the media and stakeholders. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chief executives earned a median annual salary of $189,600 in 2018.

Hone Your Leadership Skills

Norwich University has a rich history of educating skilled and effective leaders who make positive changes in their organizations and communities. Discover how the online Master of Science in Leadership program at Norwich University and its Organizational Leadership concentration can help you advance your career and take on leadership challenges. 

Recommended reading

Understanding CEO Leadership Styles
10 Different Types of Leadership Styles
Manager vs. Leader: Understanding How to Lead in a Business Environment


11 Powerful Traits of Successful Leaders, Forbes
About Organizational Leadership, Houston Chronicle
Leadership, Investopedia
How to Be an Ethical Leader: 4 Tips for Success, Business News Daily
Master of Science in Leadership, Norwich University
Average Police Chief Salary, PayScale
Average Director of Enrollment Services Salary, PayScale
Top Executives, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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