A Student in Leadership

Last September I started a new chapter in my lifelong learning journey: graduate school. I selected to enroll in a Master’s of Organizational Leadership (MOL) at the school I work at (as of July 1, 2013 University of Northwestern St. Paul). Some call the MOL degree a “MBA with heart”; and it’s fairly accurate. I would say the distinctive factors of the MOL degree, especially at Northwestern, are threefold: leadership theory, business practice, and faith integration. This degree leads not to a CFO role, but I would content that it certainly can lead into a CEO role.

The MOL program is a great fit for me. I find leadership theory fascinating (especially its psychological roots) and already have spent 8 years reading leadership books and blogs, attending leadership conferences and seminars, and listening to leadership podcasts and lectures. The practical arm of business practice, or the “so-what” I have come to call it, is the silver lining of the program. It takes these theoretical’s batted in the classroom, boardroom, and office and gives it mobility. In the short months since beginning the program I have seen a noticeable increase of my influence in the workplace–awesome! Lastly, the gold mine of this program is the faith integration. As a Christian, how do I approach these topics? How do I lead intentionally? Ethically? Responsibly? How does authentic, servant leadership play into today’s world? The journey to answer to these is the highlight of the program! This is the MOL in 148 words, and the springboard into my future writing.

Nine months into the program now, and I start applying my half-degree to my blog and writing….one of the last areas for me examine. A brief look at my original intentions for a blog revealed that it was to process ideas in dialogical medium; the downside to my original intent was too broadly defined–it could be anything and everything. I found it hard to write, process, and post. Based on the data (I love data), people enjoyed posts which I don’t like writing. But yet I felt bound to write these; I withdrew my voice.

So like Tom Cruise in the film Jerry Maguire I wrote a Vision and Mission statement. This has helped shaped how I think about writing and engaging in discussions about what I am passionate about: leadership, productivity, and faith. Non-coincidentally these mirror the three distinctions of the MOL program and closely resemble what I am passionate about, what I am good at, and what I can do.

At the end of the day I will have spent 18 months of my life and thousands of dollars earning this degree. But my life will be changed. And hopefully, I will be a stronger leader in the kingdom of God as a result. For the final half of this graduate school journey I am on, I will write what I have learned. The big takeaways. The rough spots. The hard stances. Hopefully, and my intent, is to engage with you on these things and in the end, be mutually edified.

Road Map of things to come:

  • Self-Leadership
  • Leadership Development Plan
  • Leadership Styles and Theories
  • The Idea of Followership
  • My Working Definition of Leadership
  • Top Leadership Book Choices
  • Strategy and Leadership
  • Communication
  • …More to be identified!


  1. Ryan I am so proud of you! I am grateful I can learn and grow from all you are learning! Can’t wait to read what’s next! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Julia! I plan to write on the idea of Self-Leadership next! A key concept to leading yourself well before you can lead followers. Stay tuned!

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