MSOL – Degree Program for Effective Leadership

I wanted to highlight the actual leadership courses I took when I completed my MSOL degree -Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. I began the program in August 2009 and finished in August 2011. This summary catalogs the books I read and shares a summary of my thoughts on each course.

Organizational Leadership Classes and Books

  • Exploring Leadership – MOL 600
    • Books:
      • Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience – Hughes, Ginnett, Curphy
      • Lessons from the Top – Neff and Citrin
      • Leadership: Theory and Practice – Northouse
      • Good to Great – Collins
    • This was a general overview of the many theories of leadership, including:
      • Trait approach, style approach, contingency approach
      • Path-goal theory, situational approach, leadership-member exchange (LMX) theory, expectancy theory
      • Hill’s model for team leadership
      • Transformational leadership
      • French and Ravens Five Sources of Power
      • Principle centered leadership (Covey), servant leadership (Greenleaf), authentic leadership
  • Spirituality of Leadership – RPS 514
    • Books:
      • Business as a Calling – Novak
      • Managing as if Faith Mattered – Alford and Naughton
      • Jesus, CEO – Jones
    • I really like this course. At the very end, after feeling very inspired to be a better leader, I asked, “What do we do differently, day to day?” Our professor responded and summed up the course, “You pray, every day.”
  • Accounting and Financial Decision Making – BUS 600
    • Book – Financial Accounting – Kieso
    • We learned a great deal about balance sheets and credits and debits. Our professor also has very illustrative real-world examples from when he was a CFO of large corporations.
  • Ethical Issues in Organizations – PHI 660
    • This course focused on the moral and ethical decisions leaders must make every day.
    • Books and readings:
      • If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business – Morris
      • The Case for Servant Leadership – Keith
      • The Character of Leadership: Political Realism and Public Virtue in Non-Profit Organizations – Jinkins and Jinkins
      • Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron – Bryce and Ivins
    • The biggest benefit of this course was discussing difficult topics with people of diverse points of view. It was readily apparent that easy answers to difficult situations are hard to come by.
  • Methods of Organizational Research – MOL 605
    • Books:
      • Business Research Methods – Zikmund
      • Elementary Statistics Using Excel – Triola
    • We learned how to do research in our organization that can make a difference.
  • People in Organizations – MGT/ PSY 610
    • Books and readings:
      • Developing Management Skills – Whetten and Cameron
      • Building Your Company’s Vision – Collins and Porras
      • Envisioning Your Future: Imagining Ideal Scenarios – Kouzes and Posner
    • We used many self-evaluations and activities in this course to determine ways we may react to various interpersonal situations. We studied ways to improve our own self-awareness and practiced effective management and group leadership.
  • Organizational Communication – MGT 675
    • Books:
      • Corporate Communication – Argenti
      • Management Communication: Principles and Practice – Hattersley and McJannet
    • We are able to do a live webcast with David Meerman Scott during one of our classes. It was very fascinating! We were also able to visit the Duke Envision Center to see how they use it as a marketing and communications tool.
  • Legal Issues in Organizations – BUS 625
    • Book – Employment Law for Business – Alexander and Hartman
    • Legal issues can make you cringe, but the case study approach in this course was engaging and very worthwhile.
  • Global Economic Awareness – MGT 655
    • International Economics, Globalization, and Policy: A Reader
    • We had just a small group of students but fascinating discussion. The global implications of things we talk about every day became very apparent in this class. Each student was also able to go in-depth on a topic of choice and we learned about the global housing market collapse and derivatives, the rampant problem of counterfeit goods, and the interesting dilemma of the U.S. debt crisis.
  • Reading and Writing and the Culture of Work – HUM 670
    • Books:
      • The Working Poor: Invisible in America
      • Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem – Miller
      • American Salvage – Campbell
      • FieldWorking: Reading and Writing Research – Sunstein
      • Technology and Society – Owings
    • This class was impressive. It was such an interesting look at the social justice issues leaders face. We read great literature which helped create a high level of empathy for what other people might face in their day to day lives. My favorite book of the entire program may have been American Salvage. These were amazing and poignant short stories.
  • Managing Technology – MGT 620
    • Book – Managing Information Technology by Brown, DeHayes, Hoffer, Martin, and Perkins
    • This class focused on very interesting technology case studies. It was also taught by the Chief Information Officer of The College of Mount St. Joseph and he provided a great perspective with plenty of experience to draw from.
  • Culture and Technology – SOC 680
    • Books:
      • Social Issues in Technology: A Format for Investigation – Alcorn
      • Technology and Society – Hjorth
    • This was the only distance learning class I took. We had an initial face-to-face meeting but the rest was online. I found the discussion rarely scratched the surface because it is so hard to convey the appropriate tone in a virtual environment.
  • Integrative Project – MOL 690
    • I read through hundreds of journal articles while doing this research. I focused on distractions and productivity in the workplace. I studied how my organization handled incoming phone calls. I gathered fascinating data about the patterns of calling. Interestingly, Monday was the day with the most phone calls, as measured over a three week period. The calls gradually lessened throughout the week. This corresponds with insights shared with me by someone who develops email strategies for Kroger. He said that early Monday morning is the best day to send emails, as far as open rates are concerned. It might be that people develop a list of things they want to do during the week and start in on them Monday morning.

Summary

That is a total of 27 books over the two year period that I read in pursuit of the master of science degree in organizational leadership. I enjoyed reading most all of them. I actually like textbooks. They often contain very detailed breakdowns of processes and I find that my brain really absorbs things well when presented in that way.

In addition, I read hundreds of articles throughout the program. Many of these were fascinating looks at specific examples of leadership along with interesting research about how to help your organization excel and achieve greatness.

Overall, these thirteen courses enriched me beyond what I initially expected. I am especially thankful for the people I met in the program and the conversations we had throughout the program. As much as I love books, learning from other people’s experiences is a great way to expand your thinking.

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