Les Stein, PhD and assistant teaching professor in Northeastern’s Master of Science in Leadership program, shares how an advanced leadership degree can make the difference between a good career and a great one.
The Great Man Theory of Leadership, first introduced during the 19th Century, argues that leaders are born, not made—that one either possesses natural leadership skills or they do not. At Northeastern University, we take exception to this theory. We also take exception to the idea that leadership applies only to men. The evidence clearly shows that everyone is equally capable of acquiring and applying leadership skills.
Several recent studies have made it clear that organizations of all sizes and in every part of the world are experiencing a leadership gap. More than 80 percent of surveyed executives argue that strengthening their pool of leaders is a top priority at all levels of their organizations. It is also interesting to note that more than half of millennials in professional positions believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed. These numbers are important because they highlight the need for leadership and that leaders are a prime commodity in today’s global marketplace. At Northeastern, we believe that leadership is a force multiplier within any organization.
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Leadership Development at Northeastern
Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Leadership program begins with the assumption that everyone has the potential to lead. We start by evaluating our students’ leadership skills and helping them gain an appreciation for the many underlying leadership traits they may already possess, such as empathy, emotional and social intelligence, vision, and purpose. Our goal is to empower students to refine these skills and understand what areas need to be further developed. We are not surprised when our alumni tell us that earning a master’s degree in leadership has made them more competitive for promotion and has provided them with a significant advantage when looking for a new job.
The students in our graduate leadership program come from all professions, including healthcare, engineering, project management, education, law, and many others. They feel comfortable with their technical skills, but they want to better appreciate how to work with and bring out the best in others. John Maxwell said it best when he emphasized that, “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”
Understanding the Fundamental Principles of Leadership
Unfortunately, this is far easier said than done. If you don’t understand fundamental leadership principles, you will probably not be effective at influencing others. One of these fundamental areas of knowledge is the understanding of leadership styles and their impacts.
For instance, have you noticed that some leaders work best by negotiating with the employees who report to them? These individuals are comfortable using a transactional leadership style. What about leaders at your organization who focus on motivating their employees and creating excitement when their company develops a new product or seeks to improve sales? These individuals exemplify a transformational leadership style—one that focuses on creating a strong culture of success. Or, maybe you have seen leaders who switch from one style to another, and you wondered why they do this. One month, for instance, they are directive and maybe even authoritarian. A few weeks later, after completing the planning for a big project with tight deadlines, they seek their employees’ participation in implementing the project. One reason for doing this is that work environments often change rapidly, and some people are best served by a situational leadership style.
Knowing which leadership style can best support you and your organization will help you stand out among your peers, but it is only the beginning of your leadership journey.
Advancing as a Leader
A Master of Science in Leadership degree will also teach you how to think strategically and innovatively by putting you in the shoes of corporate executives who must act as change agents in a global work environment. It will help you learn how to communicate more effectively and gain a full appreciation for the leader’s role in coaching and mentoring employees who are pursuing professional excellence. Additionally, you will have multiple opportunities to investigate and study the role of ethics in every facet of leadership.
Today, when leadership is at a premium among global organizations, a Master of Science in Leadership from Northeastern University can make the difference between a good career and a great one. To learn more about effective leadership strategies for today’s leaders, download our ebook below.