Your Guide to Organizational Leadership Degrees with a Focus in Performance Management

Written by Scott Wilson

performance management meeting

Performance. That’s what it all comes down to in any kind of organization.

You can have the best strategic plans in the business. You can train your staff to the razor’s edge of expertise in their fields. You can have communications skills that would make Lincoln look like a bumbler. Your organization can have the best support, the greatest resources, the largest market advantages.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

But at the end of the day, you have to be able to bring it all together. Your team has to perform to their potential to get the job done. And that makes every leader a performance manager by default.

This fact isn’t lost in the shuffle at colleges that train the leaders of tomorrow. So you can improve your own performance in this all-important leadership skill by pursuing an organizational leadership degree with a performance management focus.

Performance Management Skills Make or Break Your Leadership Results

Performance management is the leadership skill that ensures that everything you’ve positioned your organization to accomplish actually happens. It takes the form of processes, guidance, and incentives that ensure each employee and every department is meeting expectations and constantly improving how they work.

Maximizing performance has been a clear piece of the leadership puzzle in every organization in every era, but it’s only in more modern times that it’s been studied as its own unique discipline.

Organizational leadership studies in performance management take in both the individual human element and the aspects of organizational performance as a unit. Since leaders are responsible for managing performance at every level, the holistic perspective is one they must embrace.

In a sense, performance management work is the ultimate in coaching jobs. Understanding the individuals on your team and how to guide and motivate them requires training in psychological principles and cultural factors. Developing the right processes to guide them means honing both industry expertise and operational mastery.

Put it all together, and you’ll be a leader with the knowledge and skills to get the absolute best out of both your team and your organization. But don’t expect to learn it all without investing in the right college degree.

Finding an Organizational Leadership Degree in Performance Management To Fit Your Needs and Experience

business people meeting in officeBy its nature, organizational leadership is a discipline that is practiced most by senior managers and executives. So you won’t find universities offering it below the bachelor’s degree level. And performance management itself is such an advanced specialization even within leadership ranks that most degrees that offer it as a concentration will be found at the graduate level.

But there are programs that can fit your focus and your level of experience and needs at every level. Plotting out how to earn your leadership skills can run through any of these programs.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership Performance Management

With four years to complete these entry-level degree programs, you have plenty of time to both explore the aspects of performance management that excite you the most and to expand your skill in the discipline. Bachelor’s programs also require a broad base of general knowledge and liberal arts courses that expand your critical thinking and build key knowledge about culture and society that will fuel your understanding of what leads to peak performance.

Programs like a Bachelor of Business Administration in Performance Management offer an excellent introduction to performance management in an organizational leadership context, and are a great way for junior leaders to build up their skills to prepare for promotion or more advanced studies.

Master’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership Performance Management

Master’s degrees are where you can really dive into a specialization as focused as performance management. These programs only last a year or two, but that time is filled with in-depth, cutting-edge studies in the latest performance management theories and techniques. Additionally, master’s programs often involve original research, pitting your personal ideas and interests against real-world examples.

Degree programs such as a Master of Education in Leadership and Organizational Performance can help you apply your studies in specific industries or fields as well as in general leadership skills development. On the other hand, a Master of Arts in Organizational Training and Performance Management blends performance analytics and measurement with the techniques needed to boost performance in individual team members, while a Master of Science in Organizational Performance offers holistic methods for raising your organization as a whole.

arrows hitting target

Doctoral Degrees in Organizational Leadership Performance Management

Organizational leadership studies at the doctoral level are almost entirely aimed at developing students for academic or research positions. With between four and five years of intensive study and research, they give you all the time you need to acquire the highest level of expertise in the subject. And with tremendous flexibility in your course of study and area of interest, you can tailor them specifically to the aspects of performance management that hold your interests.

With expert guidance and assistance, you’ll pick and pursue your own topic of study for your doctoral dissertation. That opens up a chance for you to make a significant impact in the original thinking and ideas in the area of performance management, changing not just the arc of your career but also contributing to the field of organizational leadership overall.

Certificate Programs in Organizational Leadership Performance Management

For something as specialized as honing performance management skills, a certificate program is one of the most popular choices. By setting aside any general education requirements and cutting out all the organizational leadership skills you’ve already mastered, a certificate gets right to the heart of performance management. And since they typically take only a few months to complete and cost a fraction of a full degree, certificates are easy for practicing professionals to fit in.

You can find organizational leadership certificates at the post-secondary, graduate, and post-graduate levels to match your current level of experience. A variety of those programs specialize in performance management. Something like a Performance Leadership Certificate Program or High Performance Management Certificate will get you off on the right track.

Online Degree Programs Help Manage Your Own Performance in College

No matter what level of education you think best fits your performance management skill needs, you can find it available online today. A sea change has washed remote learning right up the beaches of university education and into the mainstream. And that’s a great thing for leadership students at every level.

woman studying on a computer at homeOnline studies offer you the choice of pursuing degrees offered by colleges around the country, without ever leaving your home. That opens up a new spectrum of options when it comes to highly specialized programs like performance management. You don’t have to settle for what’s available down the street when you can just as easily apply to the top school across the country.

Online degrees also fit your current career and lifestyle much better than traditional programs. You don’t have to show up for class at any particular time or in any special place. If the family dinner table after you get the kids to bed works for you, that’s when you stream your latest lecture. If you have time on the bus to work in the morning at your current position, you can catch up on class postings from the night before while you rumble down the road.

It’s an easy call for just about any leadership degree today, and it’s one that can take your performance management skills to the next level without impacting your performance right now.

A Curriculum in Performance Management for Organizational Leaders Turns You Into a Coach and Cheerleader at the Same Time

Any degree you pursue in organizational leadership, at any level, is going to come with the full cocktail of interdisciplinary studies that real leaders need:

And all of those courses are also important in performance management studies.

But performance management specializations deliver additional, and deeper, studies in the skills and knowledge that discipline requires. You’ll find classes such as:

Business Innovation and Efficiency

Managing performance requires understanding exactly what performance is… how the most efficient and effective path to your goals is defined. Coursework in efficiency and innovation helps you understand how to establish the right benchmarks and measurements to develop performance standards for both individuals and the organization as a whole.

Process Management and Scenario Planning

Much of the business of leadership comes down to initiating structure or developing and teaching the processes by which actual work is accomplished in the organization. Scoping out different scenarios that may occur in the course of performing that work and developing processes that are easy to implement, follow, and improve is important to managing team performance, then. This coursework offers the cumulative wisdom of business knowledge and contingency-planning that go into developing effective and efficient processes.

planning meeting

Performance Improvement

Every good leader recognizes that no matter how visionary their plans are or how prepared their teams are, there is always room for improvement. These courses teach the subtle knack of observing process dynamics and implementing systems that build in continuous performance improvement in the structures of the organization and individual job goals.

Analytics and Business Intelligence

It’s a truism in the leadership business that there is no improvement without observation. That’s why modern analytical techniques and business intelligence software and systems have been a boon in performance management. You’ll learn how they are used and how to use some of the most popular systems.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Motivation and Performance Psychology

Understanding how things are and how they need to be for ultimate efficiency are the first steps in performance management. Actually making the changes in your team that bring those things into alignment is the ultimate goal. So expect to spend time in classes that dive into both individual and social psychology, learning what motivates different individuals and how to provide it. With powerful principles like intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in your toolbox, you can elevate your organization to the next level.

Many degrees in organizational leadership performance management also offer a shot at internship or practicum placements in actual, working organizations in your field. You have a chance to both observe and to put some of your new knowledge of performance management concepts into practice. And you do it all with the active mentorship and guidance of experienced leaders with years of experience in getting the best out of their teams.

You’ll need a full slate of leadership skills to take your place at the top levels of your organization. But with a high level of performance management training and expertise, you’ll climb that ladder faster and help your team reach their goals with a clear edge over the competition.