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Where to Learn Free Leadership Skills Online

There are many free resources online for those wanting to learn valuable management skills. Here are some of the best websites that offer university-level seminars and classes to aspiring leaders.

MindTools.com
MindTools is an easily navigable website offering everything from essays to YouTube videos on leadership skills in various contexts. They also provide courses on related subjects including stress management, decision making, and communication skills.

Level 5 Leadership
The concept of Level 5 Leadership was coined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. His website contains an hour-long lecture on ambition and leadership as well as several shorter videos and articles.

Latitude Learning
Effectively managing others is an important aspect of being an exceptional leader. Latitude Learning’s course “Supervising Difficult Behaviors” teaches users how to handle troublesome employees and workplace conflicts.

Coursera
Coursera is an established website offering hundreds of free courses on everything from product management to emotional intelligence. Users can complete courses on their own terms, making it perfect for people with a hectic schedule.

The Open University
The Open University offers a choice between undergraduate and postgraduate courses on business management, teamwork, business psychology, and more. Users can choose introductory-level or more advanced courses.

Alison.com
Alison.com contains hundreds of topics for every aspect of leadership in business. Users can participate in courses like “Leadership Skills in Business” or “Intro to Communication Skills” to learn hours worth of free information to increase their skill sets.

MIT Online
Plenty of universities offer free online courses, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is no exception. They offer “Organizational Leadership and Change,” which is a graduate-level course exploring leadership qualities and the skills needed for future success. “Building and Leading Effective Teams” informs users how to manage and communicate as a group leader properly.

Master Class Management
Master Class Management displays an organized list of topics all relating to leadership. Users can easily pick from titles like “How to Delegate Confidently, “Holding a Meeting,” and “Dealing with Conflict” to improve weak points and gain confidence in their management abilities. Each section includes a story, a presentation, and a short test at the end.

These free resources make it possible to be a great leader without investing thousands of dollars.

Best Podcasts to Improve Leadership Skills

Leaders have the role of leading their organization to success. While effective leadership is heavily dependent on one’s personal qualities, a lot of these qualities can be learned or improved with intentional training. Leaders looking to grow in their roles should look into the following podcasts for personal and professional development.

 

Dov Baron: Leadership and Loyalty

Dov Baron focuses on inspiring leaders that want to find more purpose in their lives. Dov hosts speakers and leaders from different industries to talk about a leadership model that engenders loyalty in leaders as well as their followers.

 

Strickland Bonner and Doug Sandler: The Nice Guys on Business

Stickland and Doug’s podcast invites leaders to participate in conversations on how founders can grow their business based on ethics and values. The podcast highlights the importance of trust, integrity, and professional relationships to modern businesses.

 

Dave Stachowiak: Coaching for Leaders

According to Dave, no one is born knowing how to be an effective leader. This is why he focuses on teaching leaders the essentials of leadership, including how to lead by example, how to draw the best qualities out of others, and more.

 

Richard Rierson: Dose of Leadership

Dose of Leadership is a series of interviews between Richard and leaders from various industries and areas in life including business, military, and religious organizations. Listeners can expect to learn how to better themselves and how to improve the organization that they are responsible for leading.

 

Jesse Lahey: Engaging Leader

Jesse Lahey’s show teaches that communication is one of the most important aspects of modern leadership. Jesse invites his interviewees to discuss different tactics that help to foster better communication among teams.

 

Andy Paul: Accelerate

Andy started his career working in sales. Though he wasn’t initially successful, he found his bearings as a leader. In his podcast. Andy shares his life experience to help listeners find their own success and grow successful teams in their organizations.

 

It is up to leaders to work on their own personal development. Anyone hoping to reach their full potential as a leader should be sure to take a listen to these six podcasts to gain better insight into what makes a successful leader.

How to Deal With Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace is always tricky. At its worst, it can practically ruin careers, and even minor strife can make going to work every day feel like a serious chore. If you find yourself at odds with a coworker or even a supervisor, here are a few things that might help you work through it.

 

Communicate

Many workplace conflicts arise from poor communication. A co-worker might misunderstand something you did or said, or they might lack a key piece of information that either one of you might need to do your jobs. Situations like this are always easy to clear up, but you need to communicate to make that happen. Speak to the other person to find out if there is any misunderstanding, and go from there. As long as you both act like professionals and agree to work together to clear up any misconceptions, things will be just fine.

 

Don’t Get Emotional

Of course, it’s going to be harder to clear the air with someone if either of you gets too emotional. People tend to say and do rash things when they’re upset, but you cannot let this happen at your workplace. That’s the kind of thing that can cost people their jobs and ruin careers. If you or the other person are too upset to talk, take some time to cool off or talk to someone else who can act as a mediator. Once both of you can remain calm, you can address your conflict rationally.

 

Prevent Conflict Whenever You Can

Conflict can’t always be avoided, but you can address any potential issues before they turn anyone against each other. If you feel that there is a potential conflict between you and another person or between two other coworkers, address it and come up with some solutions before things get ugly.

 

Pick Your Battles

Even though issues will come up whenever people spend any amount of time with each other, you cannot start fights over every minor disagreement. Some things are worth arguing about, but you would be surprised at how much you can just ignore. If you’re going to spend about 40 hours a week with people, you cannot make enemies out of them simply because of your personalities. As long as neither of you isn’t doing anything that creates a hostile work environment, you can learn to accept and get along with just about anybody.

How to Identify your Leadership Blindspots

In leadership, you need to always be seeking ways to get better. This takes the right plan and massive action. One of the key things to understand is where you have blind spots. So use these tips to identify yours and avoid missing out on opportunities for growth:

 

Ask Your Family

Your family are the people who know you the best out of anyone in this world. Therefore, they are the first people you should ask when you are trying to find out what kind of blind spots you might have. They can often give you answers that you didn’t even think about or have taken for granted.

 

Ask Your Friends

Your family knows you best, but your friends know a different side of you more than your family. After all, you act differently around friends than family, even if only a tiny bit. They can share their views on what you are great at and what you could use some work on.

 

Survey Customers

Blind spots don’t just exist in your own mind and behaviors. They also come out in the form of how you run your business. For instance, each customer has a unique desire that they want to be fulfilled. The better you understand this and eliminate your blindspots regarding their wishes, you can serve them better. The results speak for themselves in terms of profit and even referrals.

 

Watch Market Trends

There are some tools available today to figure out trends in your market. You might not be able to predict them on your own, but when you use data to tell a story, you can get ahead of the curve. That way you are not caught off guard when you need it the most.

 

Test Your Marketing

Numbers do not lie in marketing. You might think that a certain product will outperform the rest. However, the true test is what people are responding to and buying. So A/B test your ads to find out what really sells.

 

When it comes to being a leader, no one ever said it was easy. But no one said you had to do it in the dark, either. You can clear up your blind spots and have more opportunities by merely using the tips above. Then, you’ll enjoy more clarity and better results than ever before.

Four Ways to Apply Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Emotional intelligence allows us to be more aware of our feelings and behaviors and those of others. Because of this, it’s an essential trait of strong leaders. Here are four ways emotional intelligence is an asset in the workplace.

 

Know Yourself

While the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the term “emotional intelligence” may have to do with the ability to understand and empathize with others, it is critical first and foremost that you know yourself. A lack of self-awareness translates to a lack of capacity for growth; you must be conscious of your own strengths and worth as well as your own mistakes, flaws, and shortcomings. This will not only help you to understand which areas require your focus regarding growth but will affect how you navigate communicating and negotiating with others by being cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses.

 

Every Word Counts

People with emotional intelligence can use their intuition and what they know of their relationships with others to determine how they should approach different subjects with different individuals. Emotional intelligence allows for a gauge of different responses and how to calmly and effectively handle these responses. Besides knowing how to respond, people with emotional intelligence also know how to listen.

 

Control Your Emotions or They Will Control You

There’s much truth to be found in the timeless proverb, “Control your emotions, or they will control you.” This is especially true when conducting oneself as a leader. Once you can properly identify your emotions and standard responses to certain stimuli, you need to practice regulating them to prevent an accidental explosion. Being able to remain stoic and calm in a tense situation is important, but just as important is being able to process and release any negative emotions in a healthy way to avoid buildup.

 

Walk in Another Man’s Shoes

Emotionally intelligent people can pick up on cues, both verbal and nonverbal, that help them to understand how to interact with different people in different environments effectively. They can consider multiple perspectives and are thus skilled in authentically sympathizing. They have also learned to focus more on understanding than on hasty judgment. Because they understand viewpoints aside from their own, they can give more objective feedback. While ‘walking in another man’s shoes’ may not be possible in the literal sense, leaders who possess this tenet of emotional intelligence are valued for their abilities to listen and respond genuinely.

Five Types of Leaders in the Workplace

No two leaders are the same. With so many different kinds of employees, there needs to be different kinds of leaders suited to their needs. Certain styles of leadership will work for one person, but not another. It’s up to a good leader to determine the style that works best for their team and stick with that. Here are five of the most common types of leaders you’ll see in the workplace.

 

Transactional

A transactional leader is one who rewards their employees when they reach a certain goal. This type of leader will set goals with their team and use a carrot-and-stick approach to get those goals accomplished. With rewards for good behavior, there are often punishments for bad practices. This style can be effective in the short-term, but most employees won’t feel they can reach their full potential under this rule.

 

Laissez-faire

Originally an economics term, laissez-faire literally translates to “let them do.” This style of leader is known for their hands-off approach, allowing their employees to take control over their work. This style of leadership is especially effective in creative settings, or when managing very experienced employees. However, this style hinders those that rely on feedback from their supervisor. With no leadership or supervision from a leader, there can be a lack of control and lead to poor production. Research has shown that this style is the least effective and least favorite of employees.

 

Autocratic

Autocratic leadership is similar to transactional leadership, just to a more extreme level. This type of leader has complete power over their employees and rarely listen to employees or share any power. This type of leadership is common in military environments but does not lead to great results in a corporate workplace. Because these types of work environments have little or no flexibility, it can lead to a high turnover rate and frequently absent employees.

 

Transformational

Transformational leaders are considered the most desirable among employees. These types of leaders use effective communication to create an intellectually stimulating environment. This style focuses on initiating change in a work environment. This leader sets high expectations and motivates their employees to do more than they originally intended.

 

Democratic

Democratic leaders put a high value on team input. This style boosts morale because employees get to feel that they have a say in the decision-making process, though ultimately the final decision rests in the hand of the leader. Workers report high levels of job satisfaction in these environments. One downside to this style is that decision-making takes longer, making it an ineffective option for an environment where quick-decision making is crucial.

How to Lead When You’re Not the Boss

Even if you’re not in charge, it’s important to demonstrate strong leadership skills in the workplace. By being a leader even when you’re not the boss, management will see that you possess the necessary skills and may keep that in mind when you’re up for a promotion. Here are six ways you can be a leader at work, even if you’re not the boss (yet).

 

1. Be flexible
Flexibility is one of the most important qualities to have as a leader. Things often don’t go according to plan; you need to be able to adapt to any situation that may arise. When things go astray, people need a leader to look to. This is your time to shine and emerge as that leader. Leaders should also understand there’s more than one way to accomplish a task. They should be open to different work styles and understand the difference between a wrong way to do something, and a different way.

 

2. Communication is key
A leader needs to be able to communicate one-on-one and in large groups. You aren’t in the position to give instructions, but you can offer advice and feedback when appropriate. Simple appreciation is always appreciated and will help your coworkers to respect and trust you. Leaders must also be clear communicators; they need to make sure everyone understands and there’s no chance for things to be misunderstood.

 

3. Don’t be a doormat
Because you’re not the boss, people may try to take advantage of you in a way they wouldn’t if you were in charge of them. Don’t let them. Leaders stand up for themselves. Don’t put up with things your boss wouldn’t. This doesn’t mean you should never help others out. Provide favors out of kindness and good for the company, not because you can’t say no.

 

4. Engage others
An effective team utilizes everyone. A strong leader will seek out the interests and strengths of each team member and do their best to align those with the tasks that need to be completed. Make everyone feel heard and appreciated. If there’s a quieter member on your team, do your best to include them in conversations.

 

5. Listen
All ideas can be good ideas. Listen to team members and make them feel like part of the group. This is especially important when you’re not the boss; if you aren’t respecting their contributions, they’ll question the leadership role you’ve taken on. If you show everyone you appreciate and value their ideas, they’ll be more accepting of your position. A true leader acknowledges that good ideas come from many different sources.

 

6. Take risks
Failure is a crucial component to success. When you acknowledge the potential payoff is greater than the risks associated with it, you’re showing strong leadership skills. This doesn’t mean you should jump into a risky endeavor without evaluating the situation first. It means you’ve assessed the situation, are aware of what may happen, and decide the outcome is worth it.

Four Books Every Leader Needs to Read

Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, practice, and guidance. One way to receive valuable leadership guidance is through reading books packed full of advice from leaders who learned through doing. It gives you the chance to learn about common mistakes leaders make, so you’re able to avoid those in your own life. There are thousands upon thousands of books on leadership but here are four that everyone who wants to become a stronger leader should put on their reading list ASAP.

 

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

In this book, Pink dives into the “carrot-and-stick” approach many businesses use to motivate employees — and why it doesn’t work. Instead, he focuses on three elements of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose, and offers techniques to put these factors into action. Focusing on employee’s internal motivation will increase their satisfaction at both work and home, and encourage them to better themselves.

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a modern classic, and for good reason. The book combines magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into a tale of self-discovery. Following an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago through his quest for riches, he instead learns the importance of listening to his heart, recognizing opportunity and learning to follow his dreams.

 

The Go-Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David Mann

This book tells the story of a struggling small business and an outside executive trying to convince the business to merge with another. In doing so, it expands on the notion that your influence is decided by how you place others’ interests first. The book teaches that strong leaders should strive to be more human, and not act as leaders first.

 

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Vulnerability is not a weakness. As Brené Brown argues, it may actually be the most accurate measure of courage. While it’s the core of fear, grief and disappointment, it’s also the birthplace of love, joy, empathy, belonging, innovation and creativity. In “Daring Greatly” Brown stresses the importance of putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, as it’s better to try and fail than never try at all.

How to Become a Better Leader in 3 Simple Steps

Keeping a business thriving requires more than just a solid business plan; you have to be a strong leader to keep your team progressing. Whether you are a novice leading a team for the first time or an experienced CEO, you can become a stronger leader by following these three simple steps.

1. Take total responsibility for yourself.
Most leaders are quick to take responsibility for their successes, but a true leader also needs to own their mistakes and failures. When you make a mistake, apologize and take ownership of it. This sets the tone for your team that the mission is more important than one person’s ego. Own each step of the process: if a member of your team has fallen short, recognize your own role in that failure. Even the most capable team member will fall short if not given proper training, encouragement, and feedback. Keep this in mind when addressing staff issues.

2. Show respect for your team.
It takes mutual respect between a team and their leader to reach goals, so ask questions about your team’s personal life to show your interest in them. Respond thoughtfully to their suggestions and show respect for new ideas. Recognize that you can learn from your team as much as they can learn from you. Humbling yourself actually elevates you as a leader because your team will have greater respect for you and your vision.

3. Make staffing decisions with intention.
Think ahead with each staffing choice you make. Look for the potential in each staff member and make a specific plan to mentor them and foster that potential. Consider promotions thoughtfully and make sure that each person is ready to be moved up before placing them in a role that could be beyond their experience or skill set. If more mentoring is required, take that extra time to coach them with that newly elevated role in mind. If it’s clear that a member of your team isn’t a good fit, let them go. To keep someone on your team who isn’t fitting into the company culture is a disservice to your company and to that team member.

While these three steps are simple in theory, putting them into practice can prove difficult. However, with practice, these steps can guide you toward being an effective leader capable of uniting a team and working toward your goals cohesively.

How to Spot & Deal With a Manipulative Leader

 

In business, leaders are often those who display charisma and enthusiasm. These qualities are crucial in management positions. However, eagerness often hides the more manipulative qualities in a person. Of course, team members are willing to go above and beyond for a manager who boosts their ego. It’s likely hard to spot the difference between true passion and manipulation. Here are some ways to identify and handle a manipulative leader.

 

Messaging

One of the most concrete ways to notice manipulation from an authority figure is by closely paying attention to their messaging. If it is clear that the deliverance of the message is more important to the leader than the actual message, that is cause for concern. Their energy and delivery should never outshine the importance of what they are trying to get across. Some people walk away from meetings or presentation in awe, likely due to the “awestruck effect” of the display. If you can’t remember the key points of what your leader just shared, their manipulation did its job. Try doing your own research on their presented topics so that you have a well-rounded understanding of the area.

 

Personal Interactions

Being wary of every encounter with a manipulative leader is key to spotting them. While everyone loves a good compliment, it is one way that devious leaders get you to agree to anything. Professionals often become addicted to approval and seek it out regularly. Manipulative managers are always willing to dish out the kind words but only if you deliver. Supportive leaders coach you through your good and bad times and will compliment your achievements throughout the process. When getting to know your manager, notice if they take the time to appreciate you, even if you don’t deliver.

 

Problem Solving

A surefire way to pick out a manipulative manager is by observing the problem-solving abilities. Sure, they can put out a fire, professionally, but are they willing to own up to mistakes? Many leaders who have alternative agendas, will avoid facing problems in front of their team. Rather than making it a learning experience for all, they confront problems behind closed doors. A strong leader is not ashamed of mistakes, nor are they afraid to face them head-on. If your manager refuses to address a concern or avoids a challenging topic, follow up with them. Should the situation spiral, it is important to loop in a third party, such as Human Resources.