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6 Ways to Learn Leadership Without Studying an MBA

leadership without mba

At the helm of every great business is an effective, thoughtful, and motivated leader. Some people are natural leaders, but anyone can develop the necessary leadership skills with some practical effort.

If you want to advance to the top of your field, become a better overall manager, or simply have the confidence to take on a new project, here are some courses and experiential learning activities to help you learn leadership skills without needing to pay for an MBA program.

Young Professionals Program (WBG YPP)

The WBG YPP is a two-year leadership development program at the start of a five-year employment contract with the World Bank, IFC or MIGA.

Young Professionals (YPs) start the program in Washington, DC, where they take on intensive training both in the classroom and on-the-job, learning the fundamentals of leadership and development operations across institutions, and how to identify opportunities for joint impact.

If you have a passion for international development and want to take on an impactful leadership role, this program is for you.

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Online Leadership Principles course

Harvard Business School Online offers a Leadership Principles course, designed to help new and aspiring leaders unleash not only their own potential but the potential of those around them.

Delivered over a four-week period, the course will help you:

  • Understand your motivational drivers, emotional intelligence, and communication methods to establish a personal leadership style
  • Apply or adapt your leadership style to meet specific challenges
  • Manage the conditions that drive team performance
  • Coach colleagues and share feedback in ways that enable them to develop and deliver
  • Handle stressful and demanding leadership situations
  • Take charge of your professional development as you navigate the challenges of transitioning from an individual contributor to a leader

Become a leader outside of work

Being a board member on a charity is a really effective way to get hands-on team building and leadership-building experiences. Many organizations have boards predominantly composed of big names with wealth and/or experience, but there’s likely to be a number of non-profits in your community who would jump at the chance to utilize your time and skills.

You’ll help a great cause you care about and you’ll also learn about the inner workings of an organization that you’ll be able to oversee. Never seen an operational budget before? Now you will. It’s a win win all around.

Achieving Leadership Excellence course

LSE’s five-day intensive Achieving Leadership Excellence course provides leadership training in the skills required to manage yourself and other people, demonstrating how effective leadership can transform an organization.

On LSE’s course, students conduct one in-depth personal style assessment (The Saville Consulting Wave), and one 360-degree leadership skills assessment as pre-assignments.

Management and Leadership, Essentials

Designed for new or aspiring managers, or experienced managers with few or no formal qualifications, this program will enable you to:

  • Define the concepts of management and leadership
  • Evaluate different management and learning styles
  • Explain what is essential in producing a good business plan
  • Identify what is involved in recruiting and building an effective team
  • Begin the on-going process of personal development planning, for both you and your team

The program is 20 weeks in total and incorporates two courses and an assessment. Once you complete the program and pass the final assessment course, you’ll earn a CMI Level 5 Award.

This online course is offered through The Open University Business School and CMI.

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Essentials of Leadership course

London Business School’s five-and-a-half day Essential of Leadership course says it will transform you from a manager to a leader.

LBS’s program aims to help you find purpose, empower others, enable change, effectively influence others and leverage your strengths to enhance your leadership impact.

Participants can expect to utilize real-life situations through skill building sessions and group discussions that continually link theory to practical application.

A pre-program 360-degree survey gets your colleagues' feedback on your leadership style, and LBS’s Point Positive® assessment reveals what others consider to be your stand-out qualities, to help you identify, define and incorporate your best self in every situation. Sounds tempting, right?

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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