Two key traits of great business leaders are an open mind and a thirst for new knowledge and insight. In addition to learning as much as they can about their respective fields and the markets they work in, business leaders should also look for ways to improve their leadership skills. Excellent leaders remain engaged with leadership learning through a wide range of different forums, from reading new books about businesses to following popular blogs.
However, in today’s increasing web-based world, more business leaders are turning to various websites for free coursework on a wide variety of topics related to leadership. Many of these resources are run by top researchers and leading universities, and they come with the benefit of being self-paced, so they can fit into even the busiest of schedules. Some of the top resources for business leaders to check out include the following:
Harvard University makes its incredible curriculum available to people across the globe through a variety of massive open online courses (MOOCs). The classes are offered free of charge, although individuals who complete them can receive a certificate for a small fee. With HarvardX, business leaders and entrepreneurs alike will find invaluable classes for keeping competitive in the current marketplace and becoming a more effective manager.
Dedicated to making its classes available online for a number of years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now provides many undergraduate- and graduate-level classes (taught by some of the institution’s top professors) on its OpenCourseWare platform. People can search through core classes as well as electives to find the subjects they are most interested in. For many business leaders, these may include classes about marketplace ethics, organizational behavior, and managerial communication. One of the courses that comes highly recommended is Organizational Leadership and Change.
A great resource for business leaders is MasterClassManagement.com, which provides free lessons on a wide range of different topics. Each of these lessons is divided into clear subpoints, with quizzes at the end of each section that check for understanding and absorption. Some of the topics covered include hiring and retaining talented employees, dealing with conflict in the workplace, business communication and persuasion, and the difference between management and leadership. This resource is a great way for business leaders to get some quick tips on a pressing problem and boost their confidence before dealing with the issue.
Unlike many of the other resources on this list, Udemy has a very clear focus. The resource helps leaders set clear, achievable goals and develop the right strategies for meeting them. Individuals who struggle to define goals will learn about a wide range of strategies and tools for creating a structure vision and even some guiding principles that they can put into practice immediately. In addition, Udemy helps individuals think critically about the strategies they have developed to make sure that they are working toward feasible goals.
University System of Georgia
The University System of Georgia offers coursework on Six Sigma through Coursera. Six Sigma remains an extremely popular topic in business, and business leaders should have some degree of familiarity with the principles behind it. Focusing on efficiency in management, Six Sigma can help business leaders transform their organizations. Many different online Six Sigma classes exist, but the University System of Georgia has proven a favorite, especially because its coursework goes beyond the principles of Six Sigma to include implementation strategies at the organizational level.
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Currently offering about 100 on-demand courses, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania provides several classes that would interest business leaders, from operations and management to business planning. Coursework also deals with strategic planning and gaining valuable market insight. All of the classes offered through this resource are free.
Less of an academic resource and more of a reference site, MindTools.com lists dozen skills and techniques that define excellent leadership and then offers a roadmap for how to develop each one. The website encourages people to join and pay a monthly membership fee, but much of the content is available for free. This resource is perfect for those who want some insight on a particular topic or need some help with a specific leadership skill. Much of the content focuses on the softer side of leadership, such as cultivating emotional intelligence and creating different leadership personas depending on the situation.
With about 10 million users, Coursera is a massive resource that coordinates with more than 100 education partners to make free courses available online. Coursera is a great place to start for coursework on very niche topics because it collects offerings from so many different universities. For example, individuals can find classwork on clinical research data management offered by Vanderbilt University or a course on the lifecycle of innovation from the University of Maryland. The vast selection of courses alone makes Coursera worth exploring. Business leaders may find some extremely unique learning opportunities here.