How A Master’s Degree in Leadership Prepares Graduates For 21st Century Challenges

Those who take on jobs in administrative, managerial, and executive roles aren’t automatically qualified as great leaders. An understanding of the skills needed to drive innovation, foster motivation and achieve goals are all necessary for successful leadership. Learning those skills comes partly from experience. Professionals in the workforce pick up valuable habits and techniques from peers. However, many decide to enter graduate-level leadership programs that can improve their skills in a number of critical areas. Leadership programs are available in many different disciplines. For example, Concordia-University Chicago offers both master’s degrees and doctorates in organizational leadership and higher education leadership.

Why Business Needs Great Leaders

Quality leadership is a key component of successful businesses. In the 21st century, leaders face more challenges than ever before. Many may feel overwhelmed because in the modern workplace the “tempo is quicker, and the dynamics more complex,” according to a survey done by McKinsey & Company. In that same survey, current chief executives said a global perspective and an ability to adapt strategies in a changing environment are key to leadership success.  For example, Josef Ackermann, formerly of Deutsche Bank, said in the 1980s, 80% of the bank’s revenue came from inside Germany. That dropped to 70% in the 1990s and is now about 38%. Also, good leaders set the standard for conduct for all employees. They provide stable and consistent guidance on overall company goals. The Harvard Business Review reports that the top leadership competencies that employees value in leaders include:

  • High ethical and moral standards
  • Ability to provide goals and objectives with loose guidelines/direction
  • Clear communication of expectations
  • Flexibility to change opinions
  • Creating a feeling of succeeding and failing together
  • Create an environment of safety for trial and error

That’s a demanding list. The preparation to take on these goals is supported with the skills and knowledge offered in a graduate leadership program.

Why Earn a MA in Leadership?

The preparation to take on the responsibilities of leadership is supported with the skills and knowledge offered in a graduate program. Using the Concordia University-Chicago programs as an example, these are some of the skills a graduate student will learn.

Organizational Leadership

Graduates from this program develop expertise in managing change and fostering innovation, two key qualities in good leaders. Specific student outcomes include:

  • High-level skills in strategic leadership and planning
  • Strong ethical and social leadership
  • Expertise in sustaining success by cultivating leaders within an organization
  • Communication and decision-making
  • Managing organizational change while effectively, ethically and efficiently delivering products and services to a diverse customer base

Higher Education Leadership

The student outcomes above also apply to the MA in Higher Education Leadership. However, higher education presents unique challenges. This degree offers a good example of how leadership specialization can best prepare graduates for their chosen careers. Student outcomes in the higher education leadership concentration include expertise in:

  • Institutional advancement and development in higher education
  • How historical and societal issues have impacted higher education
  • The unique fiscal and social responsibilities for leaders in higher education
  • Expertise in both governance and leadership in a higher education setting

These programs offer examples of how earning a graduate degree in leadership better prepares students for taking on the challenges of modern organizations. Coupled with experience and a passion for becoming a great leader, a master’s in leadership can prepare graduates for jobs where they will have a substantial impact on an organization’s future.

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