What Is Organizational Leadership?

A leader of a large organization
A leader of a large organization

Droves of CEOs are leaving their posts. More than 830 CEOs stepped down between January and July 2022—the most during the first seven months of a year since 2019.

Leaders move on for numerous reasons. For some, adapting to increasingly complex leadership roles proves to be challenging. For example, today’s CEO is not only responsible for profitability but also effectively navigating rapid economic, social and political change.

More than ever, it takes strong organizational leadership skills to lead organizations and communities through transformation. But what is organizational leadership exactly, and why is it important?

Keep reading to learn the fundamentals of organizational leadership and how an Ed.D. can help leaders foster organizational leadership skills to become change agents capable of leading their organization through critical times successfully.


What Is Meant by Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership is a management philosophy. Unlike other leadership styles, it empowers individuals to achieve a common goal or mission.

Organizational leaders are:

  • Encouraging. Through communicating belief and trust, they inspire people to use creativity, experiment, and learn from mistakes.
  • Change agents. They are comfortable with transformation and encourage it as a path to collective success.
  • Effective leaders in every industry. Organizational leaders are school principals, business owners, policy makers and beyond.

Organizational leadership helps organizations and communities flourish.


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What Is the Difference Between Organizational Leadership and Traditional Management?

Traditional management has been the prevailing leadership style for years. It involves developing and translating strategy into specific steps, assigning responsibilities and ensuring accountability.

Over the past two centuries, traditional management has scaled organizations into global enterprises. But according to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, it’s reaching its limits.

In 2022, just 40% of leaders rated their company’s leadership quality as “very good” or “excellent.” That’s the lowest level since 2014.

Leaders must employ different leadership styles to help organizations and stakeholders thrive in today’s unprecedented marketplace. Organizational leadership can help accomplish precisely that.

By developing organizational leadership skills, leaders can initiate change and re-engage people to work together toward achieving a common goal.


What Does Strong Organizational Leadership Look Like?

Strong organizational leadership brings people together through trust and inspiration to affect change. Leaders must be adaptable, communicative, influential, creative, and organized.

The following are just a few of the organizational leadership skills that effective leaders have in common:

  • Managing Change: Today's leaders must contend with ever-evolving change brought on by factors like the coronavirus pandemic, artificial intelligence, geopolitics and more. Working outside the comfort zone and inspiring others to do the same is critical to progress towards shared goals. Strong organizational leaders know how to address and drive change.
  • Influencing Others: In a recent survey, executives said relational skills and leading others are the top two capabilities they wish they had developed 10 years ago to be more effective. This is for a good reason—influencing others is critical to progress. Strong organizational leaders can inspire, motivate and unite people to achieve short- and long-term goals.
  • Problem-solving: A problem-solving mindset helps leaders serve as change agents. It involves innovation, creativity and critical thinking. Strong organizational leaders are comfortable identifying problems and developing and assessing solutions to make the most informed decision. By doing so, they can introduce and drive change that helps meet objectives.
  • Decision-making: Organizational leaders must make countless sound decisions in the best interests of internal and external stakeholders. They are adept at prioritizing decisions, evaluating the options and choosing the one that supports progress toward shared goals. Taking accountability for the outcome is also important. Accountable organizational leaders earn trust and drive continuous improvement.
  • Communicating Effectively: Another sign of sound organizational leadership is conveying information clearly and persuasively. Organizational leaders are experts at listening, negotiating and building relationships. Effective communication ensures progress and has the potential to reduce employee burnout.


What Are the Benefits of Strong Organizational Leadership?

Strong organizational leadership offers three key benefits: positive transformation, stakeholder engagement and improved performance. Leaders with organizational leadership skills can drive significant change by building trust with people. This trust leads to higher levels of commitment and better outcomes.



Leaders with strong organizational leadership skills can function as change agents in communities or organizations seeking to make significant transformations. They are prepared to generate, transform and apply leadership practices that lead to actionable change. As a result, organizational leaders can make a broad and lasting impact—in schools, communities, government, healthcare and public and private organizations.


Employee Engagement

Organizational leadership skills create effective leaders who can build trust with stakeholders, including employees. According to Gallup, employees are four times as likely to be engaged when they trust their leadership. Trust improves employees’ emotional commitment to the organization and its goals.


Employee Performance

Another benefit of strong organizational leadership is increased employee performance. Research shows that organizational leaders who trust, encourage and develop employees help improve their performance. Engaged employees tend to produce better outcomes.


How Do You Develop Organizational Leadership Skills?

For working professionals who wish to grow influence and confidence, earning an Ed.D. has the distinct benefit of developing organizational leadership skills.

Ed.D., which stands for Doctor of Education, is a practitioner-focused doctoral degree. Ed.D. students are nonprofit leaders, business leaders, educators, and higher education administrators. As graduates, they are prepared with the organizational leadership skills to drive meaningful change in their work environment, with their colleagues, or in the community.

Marymount University offers a premiere online Ed.D. program in Leadership and Organizational Innovation that empowers students as change agents ready to initiate and inspire. The degree can be applied to various industries, from policymaking to education and beyond.

The online Ed.D. program at Marymount University is highly personalized. Every student identifies an issue impacting their organization and, with faculty support, creates innovative solutions through research, theory and guided practice.

Alicia Hunter is pursuing Marymount’s online Ed.D. to influence the federal and state governance of public school information. She said, “My research at Marymount will shift public discourse about the available public school data published by state departments of education, local school districts and third-party sites.”

Do you want to make a meaningful impact in your field and lead into the future? If so, the Marymount online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation could be right for you.


Become a Change Agent through Marymount University’s Online Ed.D. Program

Wherever you want to make a difference, Marymount’s online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation will empower you to lead positive change as an organizational leader.

With practical courses like Global Leadership Perspectives and Crisis Management and projects that enact change to real-world problems of practice, this online Ed.D. program equips professionals with the tools to create innovative solutions that propel transformation.

The online Ed.D. program at Marymount is built for working professionals like Johnathan Harris, an educator and the founder of an independent high school.

“Marymount is innovative and not afraid to be bold and brave,” Johnathan said. “That’s what also attracted me to Marymount University. The Ed.D. program was and is 100% as advertised.”

The flexible program offers superior support from expert faculty and the fully online coursework is specifically designed to help students engage with the complexities of modern leadership while developing the skills to elevate their current level of performance.

You, too, can graduate from Marymount University’s online Ed.D. program with a completed dissertation and with advanced real-world leadership skills that create meaningful change. Connect with an enrollment advisor to get started.


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