Some leaders are born, but the rest of us are made. If you're too busy running your business to take high-priced and often time-consuming leadership development courses, here are 9 places to build your leadership skills for free.

Some of these courses are graduate-level university courses from institutes such as MIT. If you're thinking of diving into the MBA pool, these free courses will give you a good taste about what the expectations and style of learning would be. The only investment required is your time.

1. Master Class Management offers a free online management course that covers topics such as "How to be a Great Manager through Leadership," "How to Organize and Manage Your Department to Meet Goals," "How to Hire and Retain the Right People," "How to Deal With Conflict, Problems, Difficult Employees, and Firing," and "How to Get your Point Across Through the Art of Business Communications." Each topic has subpoints and a quiz at the end of each section.

2. Building your Leadership Skills via Coursera

Offered via the HEC Paris, this online course focuses on building your leadership skills by first understanding your personal leadership style and interpersonal skill set.

3. Leadership and Management via

Open Learn has a series of Leadership and Management courses that are all available online and free. Learn about operations management at an introductory level, and study the theory of management perspective and practice. Participants will have the opportunity to take courses on managing people, better decision making, how teams work, and more.

4. Leadership Skills in Business via

Geared to entrepreneurs, this course gets you up to speed quickly with topics such as "Leadership in Business," "Leadership in Entrepreneurial Venture," "Selecting Your Team," "Business Ethics," and "Business Assessment."

5. Supervising Difficult Behaviors via Latitude U

Do you have a challenging employee whom you have no idea how to handle? This 1.5-hour course is designed to provide insights into what can trigger difficult behavior, as well as common strategies for effectively managing them.

6. Level 5 Leadership

Based on the Ann Arbor SPARK Entrepreneurial Boot Camp Program, this one-hour course provides an overview of how to become a "Level 5 Leader" (a term originally coined by Jim Collins to describe someone who leads with personal humility and professional will to achieve superior results).

7. Organizational Leadership and Change

This course is a graduate-level university course offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yep, that's an MIT graduate-level course in leadership--for free. All course materials and lectures are available for free download. If you're thinking of taking an MBA, this could be a good (re)introduction to academic expectations. The only drawback to this course is the need to purchase some of the course reading material. 


Less a course than a series of references, the site lists 57 different skills and techniques to improve your leadership abilities. You can look at them in order, or click and surf. While the goal of the site is to join their "Mind Tools Club" for a fee, many of the articles are available for free and contain helpful nuggets of information on topics like how to be an authentic leader, using emotional intelligence, and choosing the right leadership approach for the situation. 

And last but not least...

9. Building and Leading Effective Teams

Another offering from MIT's Sloan School of Management, this one-week course is an academic boot camp to effective leadership. Some supplementary readings can be purchased, but a couple of hours in the library of any college or university should yield them up for free.

With open source and free leadership training courses at your disposal, you can click your way to a more effective, productive, and happy workplace.