Educational Leadership Skills Can Make You an Agent of Change

Smiling woman sitting with colleague using transformational leadership skills in the workplace

There are many ways to improve yourself, your organization, or your community, but attaining a doctorate in education might be one of the most overlooked. Leadership is a valuable trait in any sector and the unique adaptability of a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) has been attracting the attention of educators, healthcare officials, public servants, and human resource professionals alike. We’ve seen transportation consultants advancing access to basic services in rural areas, principals looking to undercover alternative pathways to success for students, and a rising number of workforce developers looking to enact more effective training courses. What makes an Ed.D. attractive to a diverse group of students, and how does an Ed.D. enable students to make an impact on their communities?

What is educational leadership, and how might it apply to my industry?

Educational leadership is the ability to identify, inspire, and guide improvement in people, systems, and policies. These improvements may affect departments, individuals, budgets, laws and other standards, or training programs.

When you think about it, every industry has an organizational structure, training or onboarding components, or policies put in place that someone with transformational leadership skills can address and improve. In healthcare, this may be an R.N. creating a mentoring system to bridge younger nursing staff into higher-responsibility roles. In a corporate setting, this may be a workforce developer redesigning the new employee onboarding process from the ground up, or in a school, this may be a director of technology figuring out how to identify and address a lack of technical skills, and so on.

Everywhere you look, educational leadership is a foundational characteristic that prepares and propels game-changers to bring out the best aspects of themselves, their community members, and their organizations.


How will an Ed.D. help me develop educational leadership skills?

In general, doctoral programs direct their students to uncover issues and propose research-based solutions. An Ed.D. encourages its students to then work to enact those solutions as their organization needs. Successfully navigating such changes takes a leader that knows how to transform instruction and education by pinpointing areas of growth, applying organizational theory, and even influencing their institution’s culture.

When seeking a terminal degree, there is a likely chance that your motivations are a combination of personal, professional, and community-based. Let’s break these down to see how an Ed.D. program will develop your transformational leadership skills and help you achieve your goals:

Personal development: We’ve mentioned the career-enhancing aspects of a leadership degree before in terms of the personal characteristics that the curriculum can strengthen. But the best leadership degree programs include transformational aspects such as networking, mentorship, and a diverse faculty and student body, all of which can broaden and amplify your knowledge and experience. These vital program elements will give you the perspective to see where educational improvements can be made in your community and a variety of approaches to bring those changes about.

Career advancement: Educational leadership skills give you a competitive advantage because they allow you to demonstrate the ability to shape and optimize an institution at every level. Positions that look for such skills may include:

  • educational consultants
  • corporate trainers
  • textbook publishers
  • program directors (such as human resources, research and development, etc.)
  • registered nurses or nurse practitioners
  • state representatives
  • and many more.

Becoming an agent of change: Not only does an Ed.D. help students develop high-level analytic and decision-making skills, but it also requires a dissertation that inspires students to hone in on an aspect of the larger world in which they can effect change. (For instance, one of our students chose to pursue her Ed.D. to enable her to better defend the ESL community!) And there’s no need for dissertation anxiety: when your coursework encourages you to start topic exploration from the very first class, realizing your potential to make a local or even global impact quickly becomes ingrained.

Read more: What Can You Do With an Ed.D.?

Why might an Ed.D. not be right for me?

While educational leadership skills are incredibly versatile, there are certainly occasions you may want to hold off on earning your Ed.D. Such scenarios might include:

  • If you want to dive deep into a niche subject that isn’t related to education or leadership
  • If your career would be better serviced by networking at local industry events rather than earning a graduate degree
  • If you’d rather initiate change by joining or starting up a volunteer group, charity, or other business
  • If you’re looking to earn your Principal or Building Administrator certification; in that case, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) program would be the best option for you!

Whether or not an Ed.D. is right for you comes down to your passion, commitment, and how educational leadership best fits your life and aspirations. At the end of the day, these skills are just like any other tool: anyone can learn the basics, but only those with the right preparation and experience will know how to apply them to transform themselves and their communities. To us, that’s what makes an Ed.D. worth it.

Have you earned an educational doctorate? We’d love to hear your story in the comments, especially the unique ways you apply educational leadership skills to your job! If you’re still considering your options, we welcome you to learn more about UNE Online’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) by downloading our program guide:


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