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Organizational Leadership Student
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June 16, 2021 |
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Organizational Leadership Student Achieves Career Success

Matt Tooman will earn his BA in Organizational Leadership & Human Skills Development in August ’21, but he’s already applied new skills at work to promote teamwork and engagement during Covid.

By Jenny McKeel
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If you ask undergraduate student Matt Tooman, a BA in Organizational Leadership is the degree to get.

“Organizational Leadership will help you learn everything you need to know about managing other people effectively,” he said.

Matt works at the UCSF Medical Center as an operations manager, where he is responsible for ensuring the hospital is prepared and trained to respond to any type of emergency or disaster. His career goal is to assume a leadership role within the hospital administration and ultimately he’d like to work for the Department of State within the foreign service. When he decided to go back to school, he chose the BA in Organizational Leadership & Human Skills Development (OLHSD) to learn more about leading teams.

Promoting Employee Engagement

In his employee engagement class, Matt learned how to work collaboratively and gain buy-in from team members.

“Some of the skills and techniques I learned in the class I was able to use at work to get engagement from departments where prior to that I didn’t have any idea how to get the engagement,” said Matt.

All hospitals are required to report Covid-related data to local, state, and federal agencies. When Matt reached out to another department to ask for help with this large effort, he used what he learned about gaining buy-in.

“Instead of saying if you don’t do this you will get punished, I said with your help we will be able to stay compliant and help the organization achieve its goal of providing patient-care services,” explained Matt.

In response, the department was willing to assist, and loaned Matt five team members to help report the data.

Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development

“Our organizational leadership courses help people lead effectively regardless of their position in their organization,” explained Jeffrey Yergler, professor of Management and department chair. “These highly practical courses train students to influence organizations and build momentum. Our students are learning the importance of communicating value and dignity to employees, and how to ensure that team members’ work has purpose and makes a difference in terms of the overall organizational effort.”

Jeffrey designed the OLHSD degree and developed 9 core courses that address employers’ need for leaders who know how to manage teams, resolve conflict, and build employee engagement.

In survey after survey, employers say the most valuable skills that are also the hardest to find are unrelated to technical skills but are rather known as “noncognitive” or “soft” skills such as communication, critical thinking, team orientation, diligence, and integrity.

“I’m seeing this rising tide of concern about how we build, sustain, and measure employee engagement,” said Jeffrey. “Those kind of things are becoming much more important, and the need for these skills has been escalated by the pandemic.”

Virtual Team Building

Matt has also used what he’s learning about promoting team cohesiveness and resolving conflict at work. To maintain cohesion while his team is remote, Matt runs regular check-in meetings where he sets expectations, acknowledges team successes, and helps team members remain encouraged and motivated when obstacles arise.

Jeffrey is delighted to see students like Matt benefit from Organizational Leadership coursework and apply new skills in remote workplaces.

“In a virtual environment it becomes that much more important to influence your team and also communicate how are you doing with your well-being, how are you thriving,” explained Jeffrey. “That’s something you do now that you didn’t have to do necessarily pre-pandemic.”

Matt agreed.

“I’m glad I chose this program because I can see the skills I’m gaining used by senior leadership. I recognize it right away and it’s shown me this is a very important and useful education to get.”

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On his 93rd birthday, we still face the same injustices that Reverend King fought tirelessly to correct, reminding us that we must always fight for justice.

Today, we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy with an official campus holiday. #MLK

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