The Best Leadership Courses for All Skill Levels

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Do you have what it takes to be a great leader? If you’re just starting out in management, acquiring solid leadership skills is a must if you want to thrive in your career. But where can you learn more about becoming an effective leader? An online leadership course is a great place to start, and there are also options available for more experienced professionals.

A Quick Look: Best Leadership Courses

Take a sneak peek at Benzinga’s top picks: 

What Makes a Leadership Course Great?

The best leadership courses have the following characteristics: 

1. Offers Innovative Strategies

Does the course provide creative tips and strategies to help you sharpen your leadership skills? The instructor should think outside the box to provide you with fresh perspectives during the lessons. 

2. Affordable

Excellent leadership courses shouldn’t cost a fortune. Many of the options on our list do not have an enrollment fee. 

3. Includes Real-Life Scenarios 

Textbook leadership approaches won’t always cut it in the workplace. So, it’s helpful if the course includes real-life scenarios. They should show unconventional ways that leaders keep their team motivated and work to find solutions to pressing problems in the workplace.

Our Top Picks

We scoured the web to come up with our list of top picks. The selections listed below are from Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy and categorized by skill level — beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each course also includes a description and enrollment fee to simplify the evaluation process. 

Leadership Course for Beginners

New managers or individuals considering management opportunities may find these courses useful. 

1. Foundations of Everyday Leadership by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Who it’s for: Beginners
  • Price: Free

Foundations of Everyday Leadership is the first component of the Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The class addresses the head and heart of everyday leadership and decision making from an individual and group perspective. There’s also a module on managing motivation to help maintain your inner spark and inspire members of your team to do their best work. 

As you watch the video lectures and work through the readings and quizzes, you’ll understand the significance of effective leadership in organizations. You’ll learn the precise reasons why it promotes success along with leadership skills you can employ to organize productive teams. You’ll also discover best practices for collaborating more effectively with others in the workplace. 

The course is led by Gregory Northcraft, Jeffrey Loewenstein, Denise Lewin Loyd and Elizabeth A. Luckman. All are professors in the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Enrollment is free. 

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2. Building Your Leadership Skills by HEC Paris

  • Who it’s for: Beginners
  • Price: Free

Building Your Leadership Skills is a part of the Inspirational Leadership: Leading with Sense Specialization from HEC Paris. This course is designed to help you boost your self-confidence and awareness, which are essential characteristics exceptional leaders possess. 

Instructor Valérie Gauthier, associate professor at HEC Paris, teaches an innovative approach to leadership. The “Savoir-Relier” method channels sense and trust to master the fundamentals of leadership and build skills that will help you become a better leader. 

The course begins by introducing a systematic approach you can use to identify your unique leadership style. In the second module, you will learn how to get in touch with your inner self to boost sensibility and self-awareness. And the final module shares ways to leverage your senses and trust your instincts to bring projects to fruition. 

There’s no cost to enroll and course material is delivered through videos, readings and quizzes. Expect to complete the class in 3 weeks at a pace of 2 to 4 hours per week. 

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3. Leadership Foundations: Leadership Styles and Models by LinkedIn Learning (Formerly Lynda.com)

This introductory course from LinkedIn Learning will help you develop and sharpen your leadership skills. It includes lessons on leadership traits and leadership development. 

Instructor Alexander Lyon, associate professor at the College of Brockport, will also teach you about leadership styles, including the autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire approaches. Leadership actions, responsibilities and priorities are also covered in the class. 

You can position yourself to attract more lucrative career opportunities in the near future through the course and use the class to become a better leader in all areas of your life. 

Enrollment is included with the $29.99 monthly LinkedIn membership. Or you can enroll for free by signing up for a 1-month trial.

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Intermediate Leadership Courses 

If you’ve been a leader in your organization for some time and want to advance your skills, these courses may be ideal. 

4. Corporate Leadership and Management Skills by Udemy

  • Who it’s for: Intermediate students
  • Price: $24.99

Just $24.99 gets you a seat in this valuable leadership course from Udemy. It’s best for those who are relatively new or have recently been promoted to managerial roles. 

This class takes a step-by-step approach to teach effective leadership in a management role. You will learn how to build your team, create values, set feasible goals, conduct meetings, implement robust communication strategies and so much more. 

It includes full lifetime access to 18 lectures condensed into 2 hours of on-demand video. The course is divided into 2 segments — how to be an effective leader and self-development tips. 

Facilitator Vishal Choudhary is a corporate trainer with over 18 years of experience in the field of coaching organizational leaders and managers. He’s also led programs for hundreds of management trainees in various large companies throughout the U.S. and India. 

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5. Inclusive Leadership by LinkedIn Learning (Formerly Lynda.com) 

Taught by Dr. Shirley Davis, a keynote speaker and global workforce management expert, this course discusses the benefits of inclusive leadership. It spans an hour and includes 4 modules. There’s also a quiz at the end of each segment to test your knowledge of the material. 

You will learn why inclusive leadership helps boost employee engagement, creativity, engagement and team performance. The course also introduces the primary traits of inclusive leadership and best practices for implementing this approach in the workplace. 

A seat in this course is free with a $29.99 per month LinkedIn membership. You can also enroll for free by registering for a 1-month trial membership. 

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6. Leadership Through Social Influence by Northwestern University 

  • Who it’s for: Intermediate students
  • Price: Free

Leadership Through Social Influence is a component of the Organizational Leadership Specialization from Northwestern University. It covers 4 influential leadership strategies:

  • Influencing personal attitudes
  • Influencing behaviors by altering social factors 
  • Influencing behaviors by altering perceived ability 
  • Convincing others to take action that coincides with their intentions 

This course is credited with helping several hundred students start new careers. And several others received material career benefits from completing the class.

Enrollment is free, and you can expect to spend 5 hours working through the course material. 

The course is facilitated by Daniel J. O’Keefe, professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the School of Communication.

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Advanced Leadership Courses

Executive leaders that seek ways to become change agents and inspire their team can benefit from these advanced leadership classes. 

7. Executive Leadership by LinkedIn Learning (Formerly Lynda.com)

Master the 4 disciplines of executive leadership with this advanced course from LinkedIn Learning. You will learn how to lead strategically, foster shared purpose, inspire others, establish priorities and be a change agent — all while developing yourself in the process.

Ultimately, you will walk away with top-notch insight on C-Suite executives and how their leadership qualities set them apart from the masses. You will also know how to implement these same qualities on the journey to advance your career. 

A free seat in this course is included with a $29.99 per month LinkedIn membership. You can also give it a test drive if you register for a 1-month trial membership. 

The course is led by Executive Coach John Ullmen. He’s also a professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management. 

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8. Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence by Case Western Reserve University

  • Who it’s for: Advanced students 
  • Price: Free

Are you interested in tapping into emotional intelligence to cultivate solid relationships in your role as a leader? Look no further than this advanced course from Case Western Reserve University’s Inspired Leadership Specialization. 

The class is taught by Richard Boyatzis, a distinguished professor in the Departments of Organizational Behavior, Psychology and Cognitive Science. It includes modules on the neuroscience of resonant leadership, renewal as a cure to chronic stress, inspiring and motivating sustained development, growth, and learning, peer coaching and so much more.

Enrollment is free, and there are no prerequisites to sign up. 

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9. Creating a High Performance Culture by LinkedIn Learning (Formerly Lynda.com)

Searching for ways to build a culture centered around high performance and stellar results? Consider this advanced course from LinkedIn Learning. It focuses on establishing a solid foundation, getting your team on board with the mission, implementing the right tools and setting the tone for an environment of go-getters. 

Instructor Mike Figliuolo draws from years of experience in leadership to share critical insights that will help you establish a thriving culture in your organization. He begins with a primer on building a high-performance culture, followed by a lesson on setting direction and communicating the culture with others. There are also lessons on organization, managing performance and living the culture. 

A $29.99 monthly LinkedIn membership covers the enrollment fee or you can grab a free seat in the course by registering for a 1-month trial membership. 

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Choose the Right Leadership Course for You

Whether you are just starting out in management or have worked in the C-suite for years, you should always find time to hone your leadership skills. These online courses are a great place to start, and we’ve included several free and low-cost options to choose from.