Why an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership?
George Sharp, Ed.D.,
Assistant Professor, LEAD Program, School of Education,
As many in the New Jersey community are aware, Stockton University will launch an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program in January 2016. As part of a small team of faculty and staff working on this project for the past four years, I have been asked a number of times: What value will this program offer to leaders in the various organizations in our communities? The above being asked, below are my brief answers and perspective as to the value of the program.
During the last 10 years, research on leadership development reveals a disconnect between the need to prepare leaders with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to lead their respective organizations in the current (as well as future) environment and what actually is delivered to (and learned by) the leader’s in their respective development programs. Current leadership development programs are becoming increasingly mismatched with the realities of the changing environment and with the need to deliver the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for leaders in this landscape. Development programs are also deficient when it comes to transforming leaders’ from a fixed to a growth mindset. In short, current development programs are not adequately preparing leaders to meet the complexity of challenges in our current environment.
Unfortunately, the gap mentioned above continues to widen. Most leadership development programs, whether designed and implemented by human resource departments, consulting organizations, or colleges and universities, are based on a dated assumption that if we show leaders what to do, they will automatically be able to do it. Thus, a focus of many leadership development programs is: What does good leadership look like? Feedback from practitioner leaders in all of the organization types we have included in Stockton’s doctoral program have offered the thought that they don’t need the same degree of emphasis on being shown the “what’s” of good leadership in order to grow as leaders. Instead, they need development with a different focus, and a different question emerges: How do I lead in an environment with an ever-accelerating pace of change, increased complexity of challenges, amplified levels of interconnectedness, and the dissolving of traditional organizational boundaries? Leaders from different organization types have also expressed the concern that they have not adequately, if at all, been taught how to grow the mindset necessary to transition from one stage of leadership to a higher level of development. Most leadership development programs have rarely considered or addressed this as a need. So, we are not surprised that 85% of the leaders in all organization types, nationally and internationally, get stuck, or trapped, at the lowest level of leadership development – dependence and conformance. The program we have developed at Stockton focuses on the “how” of good leadership, or stated differently, how to do it, or apply it, in the organizational setting as well as the stage of development in which the leader is applying it.
The Stockton program is interdisciplinary and designed for the leader practitioner in any organizational type. It is not a program that will lodge itself in leadership theory and research although the entire scope of the program is based upon current research and theory. We just won’t dwell too long on it, instead focusing everyone’s time and effort on applying the understandings directly into the respective organizations, and at an elevated level of growth and development.
The purpose of this program is to facilitate the growth of leaders so that they, in turn, are prepared to facilitate the growth and continued improvement of their respective organizations. Thus, the program is designed to be a leadership development program within a doctoral program as opposed to being a doctoral program about leadership. This is an important distinction.
One benefit that we expect follows: All of the organization types included in this program exist in our communities. Leaders from the various organization types are guiding their respective organizations in addressing issues and solving problems in our communities. Quite often, the different organizations are addressing the same issues and problems, but much of the work they are doing remains in a silo. Inter-organizational communication and collaboration that lead to a deep understanding of the issues and problems in our community as well as an integrated approach to a solution are more uncommon, than one would hope or expect. We believe that by having leaders from the different organization types in the same setting at the same time, and by facilitating an atmosphere of communication and collaboration, we truly expect to create a culture of interdisciplinary networking that will carry-over and extend beyond the three years of this program.
We also expect to facilitate development of a growth mindset, necessary for any leader to have the chance to transition from one level of leadership stage development to another. Lastly, we expect to make a difference in the way leaders understand and lead, which will benefit their respective organizations as well as their long-term personal and professional growth.
In many respects, we believe that we will contribute to leadership growth, one leader at a time. (Well, maybe contribute to leadership growth with one small group of leaders at a time is more accurate.) While we will incorporate some online experiences, this is primarily a face-to-face program as we believe that so much of high quality leadership is based upon human skills and relationships, integrated into the program as leadership understandings and essential habits.
More information on Stockton’s Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership can be found at http://www.stockton.edu/edd.