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11 Places to Learn Leadership Skills That Will Make You a More Confident Leader Without Costing You a Dime

A high-quality education doesn’t have to be expensive thanks to these resources

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BY Larry Kim - 12 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Most people fall into two camps: natural born leaders and the rest of us.

While some people were gifted with the charisma and confidence required to make leading others a breeze, everyone else has to cultivate these skills through time, dedication, and hard work.

But, signing up for long classes that focus on leadership isn't ideal for many, especially if you are focused on building or running a business. Plus, the financial investment required for some courses can leave such training out of reach if you're fighting with a limited budget.

Does that mean you have to put aside your dreams of being the simmering unicorn of leadership wisdom your team needs to succeed? Well, of course not. There are plenty of free resources that can help you increase your competency, often on your own schedule.

These classes let you access high-quality educational resources (some are even from leading universities) without asking for a dime. Here are 11 places that will help you increase your skill level on a rocket-like trajectory.

1. Udemy

While the majority of Udemy's offerings are paid, there is a selection of free leadership courses that anyone can attend.

You can review the descriptions to identify classes that meet your needs and view the ratings provided by other people who have taken the course.

2. Open Learn

Everything available on Open Learn is free to anyone who wants to participate. There is a wide selection of classes focused on management and leadership, so you can choose the options that best suit your needs and available time.

As you proceed, you have the ability to earn badges on the site, giving you proof that you completed the coursework, should you need to demonstrate your credentials.

3. Master Class Management

If you're looking for a free course that covers a wide range of leadership topics in a self-paced format, Master Class Management might be for you.

The site breaks up the class into 10 core lessons that cover critical business areas like communications, marketing, operations management, and hiring. You don't even have to enroll to get started, and can go through the class at a time that works for you.

4. Alison

Multiple free classes are available through Alison, including basic overviews like "Leadership Skills in Business" as well as those targeted to specific niches or industries, such as nursing.

Like Udemy, you can see ratings from previous participants as well as a clear indication regarding the amount of time required to reach completion.

5. MIT Open Courseware

If you want to try your hand at a graduate level course without the traditional price tag, MIT has you covered. The Organizational Leadership and Change class, as well as the Building and Leading Effective Teams course, are both offered through the Sloan School of Management at no cost to you.

You can access the same high-quality course materials and lectures you would receive as an official MIT student, though some of the reading materials do have to be purchased.

But, these classes can be a great experience, especially for those who are considering continuing their formal education at a graduate level and want to test the waters first.

6. University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business Leadership and Management Blog

For superb quality blog posts, check out the blog from the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business. The articles tackle contemporary issues in leadership and business management, and provide some valuable insights that most company owners would appreciate.

7. Bret L. Simmon's Blog

If you're looking for a fearless take on tough topics, Bret L. Simmons doesn't tend to pull any punches. He has a Ph.D. in Management from Oklahoma State University and is currently a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno at the College of Business.

Much of his blog focuses on "positive organizational behavior," including leadership and management techniques for contemporary businesses.

8. Weekly Leader

For those who prefer their material in podcast form, the Weekly Leader has a wide selection to choose from. You can also use the links in the side bar to access a variety of leadership blogs, which is a great bonus.

The site hasn't been updated in quite some time, but the content is still available. And, with 96 podcasts recorded, there is likely to be some gems available.

9. Center for Creative Leadership

Another source of high-quality podcasts is the Center for Creative Leadership. They cover topics ranging from "the essentials of true leadership" to "tips for dealing with the stress of leadership," all in a highly portable format that you can enjoy while on the go.

10. Integral Coaches

More of a resource center than a formal educational opportunity, Integral Coaches does have a focus on coaching, but much of the information pertains to leadership in general as well.

You can access a few PDF downloads and audio files for free through the site, though the majority of the content is paid.

11. Skills Converged

If you're looking for a combination of written materials and hands-on exercises you can work through with your team, then Skills Converged has you covered.

Most of the resources are designed to get you thinking, helping you improve your leadership skills through self-reflection and analysis. The rest give you a chance to participate in team building exercises that can not only benefit you but others in your company as well.