Think about the last time you learned something new. Whether it’s picking up a new language, mastering your programming skills, or brushing up on a hobby like cooking or carpentry, learning us usually straightforward. You watch an instructional video or take a class and then keep practicing until perfect — at least good enough where you’re proud of yourself.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when learning to lead others. No matter how many years of experience you have in a leadership role or books that you’ve read, leadership is a non-stop quest. You have to stay current with the most recent information and strategies, ask questions, listen to others, implement, and you may even have to fail just to get close to being an effective leader.
The good news is that you’re surrounded by resources that can guide you in becoming an amazing leader. These leadership resources can help you at any point in your career.
1. Business Schools
Going the traditional route with university schooling isn’t for everybody. Attending a leading business institution is expensive and won’t necessarily guarantee a substantial ROI. At the same, for those fresh out of school, looking to change career paths, or enhance their leadership skills, attending business school remains a popular option.
Besides developing the skills you’ll need as a leader, you can gain hands-on experiences and strengthen your professional network. A survey from Business Insider found that the number of contacts was the most valuable asset a business school provides.
If you decide to enroll in a business school, here are some of your leadership resources from around the globe:
- Columbia Business School, USA
- IMD Business School, Switzerland
- School of Management, University of Bath, UK
- IESE Business School, Spain
- Monte Ahuja College of Business (MACB), Cleveland State University, USA
- Instead, Business School, France
- Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, USA
- London Business School, England
- Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA
- Center for Creative Leadership, USA
2. Online Training Resources and Certificate Programs
Another option to acquire broad leadership skills or sharpen a specific set of skills is to take an online professional development course or program. Not only can you take these classes whenever and wherever you prefer, but they’re also much more affordable than enrolling in a conventional college or university. There are also plenty of free options available as well.
While this is in no way an extensive list, here are some leadership training resources and certificate programs to get you started:
- Lynda from LinkedIn
- Master Class Management
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Cornell Online Executive Leadership
- Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
3. Mentors, Advisors, and Coaches
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a successful entrepreneur who’ve you’ve never met. But, you have read all of their books, watched their TED Talks, or follow their social media feeds. Mentors could be a college professional, local business owner, or an expert you connect with on Mara Mentor who shows you the ups. Because they’ve already been there and done that, their advice is indispensable.
Advisors, on the other hand, are individuals whom you’ve built a deeper relationship with. Because you know each other both personally and professionally, they know what your strengths and weaknesses are. When a mentor knows more about you such as your strengths and weaknesses they can focus on assisting you in leadership areas where you need to improve.
Unlike a mentor or advisor, a coach or consultant is someone who hires to help you become a more effective leader. They can also help you gain a competitive edge within your industry and develop skills like self-confidence and being able to trust your team.
As Murray Newlands put it perfectly in a previous Entrepreneur article, “Reading is one of the most valuable activities for anyone, but especially for entrepreneurs who are breaking into new verticals that few have entered.” He adds, “It is important to read to challenge your perspective, gain knowledge from someone else’s experience and to help you through the inevitable challenging times you will face.”
Here’s the problem. There are a ton of leadership books out there from which to choose. But, I recommend that you start with the following:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
- Principles by Ray Dalio
For as much as I love reading, there are times when it’s not convenient. For example, if I’m traveling, running errands, or exercising it’s much easier to listen to a podcast. Best of all, there is no shortage of quality podcasts regarding leadership that is available.
Some of my favorites podcast leadership resources are:
- The Tim Ferriss Show
- The Growth Show
- The Go-Giver Podcast
- TED Radio Hour
- The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast
- Perry Noble Leadership Podcast
- Boss Files
- Leadership University
- How I Built This
- Engaging Leader
6. Blogs and Websites
What separates the average leader from the excellent? The separation surrounding good and great leader seems to be about having the drive to learn and grow continually. And, there’s no better solution than reading the information found on blogs and websites. Unlike books or courses, this type of resource contains the latest trends, strategies, and research that can be used to step-up your processes, practices, and skills.
Obviously, Entrepreneur is a top-notch resource. Other fine publications are the Harvard Business Review., Leadership Freak, and Lead Change Group. I’m also a fan of John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Michael Hyatt, Tom Peters, and Lolly Daskal.
7. Real-time Feedback
Studies have found that those who ask for feedback are more effective leaders than those who don’t. While there are several reasons for this, these insights can guide you in becoming more self-aware and what they need to do to improve their performance. It also gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and the culture of transparency.
Unfortunately, some employees may be hesitant to critique you in fear of repercussions. That’s when you can turn to a tool like CareerLark. It’s a Slack bot that provides you with real-time feedback in the skills that you want to refine.
8. Your Team
Entrepreneurs sometimes think that they have all the answers. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, you don’t know as much as you think. As such, you should tap into the knowledge and expertise of your team. If you take the time to get get to know them and let them shine, you may be surprised at how much you’ll learn from them.
To get the most out of your team, try and hire a diverse group that has fresh and unique ideas. Additionally, you need to create a culture where feedback is welcomed so that you can discover what you’re doing correctly, as well as areas that need to be strengthened.
I’m a big fan of conferences. They allow you to learn from the best leaders, stay up-to-date on the latest information, and network with like-minded individuals. On top of the keynotes and networking, some events also have workshops and training sessions.
Here’s a handful of leadership conferences that you should circle on your calendar:
- Ernst & Young’s Strategic Growth Forum
- SHRM Leadership Develop Forum
- Insights Leadership Conference
- Leadercast Live
10. Workshops and Retreats
Participating in a seminar, workshop or retreat allows for hands-on training. It also exposes you to unique perspectives and the chance to mingle with a small group of your fellow leaders. What’s more, you can attend these events if you’re currently enrolled in college through your school. For established leaders, you can attend workshops or retreats that help you increase specific skills.
Some of these events that you should check out are the Lantern Leadership Retreat, Cultivating Leadership Presence Through Mindfulness, and Creative Leaders Retreat.
11. Clubs and Memberships
Whether if it’s a local organization or a nationally known institution, clubs and memberships provide you with access to exclusive resources, networking opportunities, and the chance to learn from influential leaders across multiple industries. Some even align you with a mentor and offer one-on-one training in a specific discipline like public speaking or project management.
12. Think Tanks
Think tanks are often made-up of experts, scholars, and policymakers who search for solutions to common problems. In the realm of leadership, these include The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Brookings Institution, Atlantic Council, and CEO Think Tank.
Giving back to your community doesn’t just help others. It also lifts your spirits, expands your network, and even develop your leadership skills. Sounds too good to be true. But, when you’re collaborating with others, you’re promoting soft skills like communication. You’re also overcoming challenges that encourage problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, volunteering builds your self-confidence. And, it lets you learn or upgrade existing hard skills. For example, if you’re a coder, you could build an app or website for a nonprofit. It’s beneficial for them while allowing you to hone in on your programming skills.
14. Gut Instincts
Strong leaders are known for using data to make more informed decisions. On the flipside, they also trust their gut when considering new hires and the values and strategies that shape the organization. If something doesn’t feel right, then they won’t head into that direction. More importantly, listening to your instincts lets you make timely decisions more quickly.
As someone who has experienced failure, I’ll be blunt. It sucks. I’d honestly say it was one of the most challenging times in my life. However, it was also undeniably one of the most potent sources of learning and growing as a person and leader.
Through failure, you’re able to become mentally tough and more resilient. It encourages you to reflect on your mistakes so that you won’t repeat them. You’re forced to become receptive to new thoughts and ideas. And, it teaches you the importance of gratitude.