by Sarah K. White

Leadership training: 10 online resources for developing leadership skills

Sep 05, 2017
IT LeadershipIT Skills

Effective management requires strong leadership skills. These 10 online leadership training resources offer professional development for those seeking to strengthen their management skills — and some of them are free.

drexel leadership primary
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Attaining a leadership position requires a balance of hard and soft skills, but until you hit management levels, you might not have considered how important leadership skills can be. Unfortunately, leadership skills don’t always come naturally — whether that’s communication, strategic budgeting, organizational planning or team-building.

But you don’t have to look far to find effective, affordable – and sometimes free – leadership training. In fact, you might find that your alma matter even offers online professional development courses on leadership skills.

If you’re looking to gain more broad leadership skills or hone specific skills, these 10 leadership training resources and certificate programs can help get you started.

MIT OpenCourseWare – Sloan School of Management

You may not know that MIT offers material from more than 150 of its undergraduate and graduate courses for free, giving you access to an MIT education without the tuition. At MIT OpenCourseWare, you can get access to the Sloan School of Management, where you’ll find plenty of undergraduate and graduate courses on all things business, including leadership skills, for free.  


Coursera offers courses from universities and colleges across the country. There are business and leadership courses, but you’ll also find courses on popular IT topics like data science, coding and more. Courses typically run four to six weeks and are priced from $29 to $99; specializations in specific skills take four to six months and range from $39 to $79 per month. You can even complete an accredited master’s degree in one to three years — cost ranges from $15 to $25,000.

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School states that it is the “only top-tier business school able to educate corporate workforces at scale,” with over three million students enrolled in more than 30 online courses. Course options include private group courses with 50 employees or more, customized programs with over 500 employees and online courses that offer a “deep dive in key topics for professionals.”

Villanova University Leadership Training Course

Villanova University offers individual courses, as well as a Master Certificate in Organizational Leadership. To obtain the certificate, you must complete three courses that are professor-led using video and audio, chat rooms and class discussions. Each course takes eight weeks to complete, and altogether the three-course certificate costs $5,095.

Class Central

Class Central is another online depository of courses a wide array of topics — for the business category alone, there are currently 1,243 available courses. You’ll find courses from multiple universities and other educational facilities, and Class Central even aggregates courses offered by other online platforms like Coursera or FutureLearn. You’ll be able to find free and paid courses on nearly any subject from a wide variety of sources.

Universal Class

Universal Class offers comprehensive online programs on nearly any business topic you can think of. Courses are typically under $100 and are self-led with multiple lessons, exams and assignments. Leadership courses include leadership and supervision, team building, and running effective meetings. You can take multiple courses at a time and each course will earn you a certain amount of credits as you work towards completing a full certificate.    

Cornell Online Executive Leadership

Cornell University offers a three-month online Executive Leadership program consisting of eight two-week courses. The website claims that “executive leaders can’t be traditional managers anymore; they need to be effective coaches, creative problem solvers, savvy negotiators and skilled decision makers.” Courses are run through the University’s online learning subsidiary, eCornell, which offers flexible instructor-led courses entirely online. The program costs $4,800, or $650 per month.

Lynda from LinkedIn

Owned by LinkedIn, Lynda features leadership training and tutorials, among other topics. It promises to help you “develop talent and keep skills current with expert-led, on-demand eLearning.” You can complete courses individually, but there’s also an option for businesses to use Lynda to train your organization or specific departments on certain skills. You can try Lynda out for free for 30 days, after that the cost for a basic account starts at $19.99 per month, while a premium account starts at $29.99 per month and offers offline viewing and practice project files.

Master Class Management

Don’t let the slightly outdated website fool you — Master Class Management is a valuable resource for expanding your leadership skills. The website is home to free courses on management and leadership, with the goal to bring affordable professional development to anyone with an internet connection.


MindTools has an entire section dedicated to becoming an “exceptional leader” with over 60 skills and techniques to improve your leadership skills. Your first month of MindTools will only cost $1, but after that it’s $19 per month for a standard membership and $27 per month for a premium membership. The courses contain material “normally taught only in management programs or MBA classes,” and can also be used by companies for widescale training.