Even with the innovations in technology that have revolutionized private business, nonprofits and government agencies, quality leadership continues to be a major issue for companies in all sectors of the economy.

Finding good leadership has proven difficult. According to a recent study by The Rock Center for Corporate Governance and Stanford University, those qualified to become chief executives are among “America’s scarcest resource.” Among the study’s key takeaways is that leaders are hard to find and that company boards face “greater urgency” to develop and retain chief executives.

There’s a need for those who have the qualities to become leaders. Many count on experience within their profession to propel their career higher. That is certainly an important aspect of leadership, but many turn to graduate degree program to hone their leadership skills.

One such program is the Master of Science in Leadership (MSL) from San Diego Christian College, which focuses on detailed analysis of the underlying meaning and concepts of effective leadership styles and practices.

What You Learn in an MSL Program

An MSL program is geared toward working professionals who want to take the next step up in organizational leadership.

Every graduate-level leadership program varies in the details of what it offers. For example, here are some of the student outcomes in the MSL program at San Diego Christian College.

• An understanding of the fundamental leadership principles, including ethics, communication, and vision
• Expertise in applying effective leadership principles to organizational structures that include business, education, government agencies and religious organizations
• The foundations of organizational theory
• Managing conflict and change
• Organizational behavior and development

All these courses provide a foundation upon which graduates can build exceptional leadership skills.

Becoming a Leader, Not a Boss

Many people think of managers and administrators as leaders simply because they have won that position. While that is the case in some situations, in many others managers become too much a “boss” and not enough a leader.

An MSL program prepares leaders, starting with the number one leadership competency found in a recent study done by the Harvard Business Review: high ethical and moral standards. An adherence to values and first principles are what separate a leader from a boss.

Other ways include:

• Leaders lead from ahead, not push from behind
• Leaders know it is more important to listen than to speak
• Leaders don’t rule by fear
• Leaders coach and mentor, not berate and scold

The Demand for Quality Leadership

As noted by both the Rock Center and Harvard studies, quality leadership can prove to be in short supply. And demand continues to grow.

The number of chief executives in the United States is projected to increase 8% by 2026, with more than 193,000 people taking on leadership positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

California employs more chief executives than any other state, according to the BLS. The state also offers some of the highest pay, with a mean annual salary of $222,950.

With demand high and the supply of qualified leaders low, those who want to take on the responsibility and challenges of leadership have a great opportunity. Earning an MSL can help bolster their chances of landing at the top of the organizational chart.