In a globally connected world, it is becoming increasingly important for organisation heads to be capable of making fast yet informed decisions. Monash University’s Master of Organisational Leadership programme can be studied through Kaplan in Singapore, and it teaches students how to be responsive and agile leaders while emphasising the importance of the leaders being learners themselves. This is so they can be effective in helping their organisations deal with change.
Dr Fiona Longmuir, lecturer in educational leadership at Monash University, explains: “We understand how important it is for organisations today that people are able to deal with rapidly-changing and complex problems. We are about developing leaders who are able to learn and respond.”
She adds that evidence shows strong leadership is essential for organisations in terms of developing a clear vision and values, as well as having a solid plan to advance the organisation forward, particularly in globalised industries such as the financial services sector.
“What an organisation is doing and why, is often driven by people in a leadership role. But leadership requires more than just one person at the helm, leaders must implement strong practices to align people and direct their focus to the specific goals of the organisation, so that it can be responsive to change,” she says.
The programme is based around helping students gain a core understanding of leadership, with an emphasis on developing an understanding of themselves as leaders and how they work with others. It also considers the importance of understanding and managing change, and considers the practical and ethical consequences of leading organisations through said change.
“We talk through the process of gathering information and making the best decision possible, given internal and external factors,” Longmuir says.
As part of the programme, students review a particular leadership challenge they have faced in the past. They would explore the issues around it and consider how they would have handled it differently, with the knowledge gained during their studies.
“We are always encouraging people to think practically about how they undertake their leadership. That also comes through in our course in terms of how students interact with each other, and how they learn to manage the change process.”
One course focuses on the interpersonal relationships between leaders and other members of the organisation, taking into account the emotional aspects that are sometimes overlooked during decision making, including during staffing decisions.
Students come from a range of backgrounds such as community organisations, schools, and businesses, including the financial services industry. They include people already in organisational leadership positions or leading teams, as well as those aspiring to take on a leadership role.
The programme is taught by faculty from both academic and industry backgrounds, to which Dr Longmuir elaborates that: “We have quite a broad range of people who come to do our programme, particularly those really interested in developing an understanding of the importance of learning within an organisation.”
“Our Faculty of Education is ranked number one in Australia, which means our students have access to Monash’s highly talented staff, who have specialised expertise in the leading learning space and great expertise leading in general.”
Courses are taught using a range of material, with students required to engage with academic-level literature, research and reports, as well as case studies.
Longmuir explains: “We try to have a balance of literature that inspires students to think deeply and differently, as well as introducing practical elements through specific case studies and clear examples that students can relate to.
“The teaching model we have is incredibly collaborative and supportive, and is firmly based on cooperation, with plenty of mutual discussion and learning with each other, as well as from the materials provided.”
She adds that Monash has a strong online learning platform to provide students with resources and to support their progress during their studies.
The university has kept in touch with many of its alumni, noting that the Master of Leadership in Organisational Learning programme has helped their graduates’ individual career progression.
Longmuir points out that studying the Master’s programme is a strong indicator that someone is interested in taking on a leadership position.
However, the programme has benefits beyond that as well. “Evidence shows that our graduates become more confident and knowledgeable leaders, able to form excellent teams and direct their organisation to adapt and respond to the complex challenges it faces,” Longmuir says.