Some things in life are relatively straightforward to learn.
Want to knit a scarf? Head the local craft store, pick up a book, and get to work. Sure, your gauge might be all over the place and your transitions between balls of yarn might be haphazard, but you’ll still end up with something good enough to keep you warm during the winter.
Learning to lead others isn’t so linear.
Sure, you can pick up a book to get you started, but that’s all it will be — a start. You’ve got to read, and listen, and ask questions, and make mistakes, and course-correct, and then you might be at a “good enough” level.
If you’re on that leadership development path and looking for some more materials to help you along that journey, we’ve got you covered. Below are some of our favorite podcasts, tools, tips, and resources to become a better leader.
9 Resources to Help You Become a Better Leader
Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you can learn something from Bill Walton. The NBA legend worked alongside two of the most prominent leaders in basketball: John Wooden, his basketball coach at UCLA, and Larry Bird, his teammate on the Celtics. In this episode of HubSpot’s podcast, The Growth Show, you’ll hear more on what made those leaders so special — and apply those insights to your own career.
While public speaking isn’t a requirement for being a strong leader, it certainly can help you differentiate yourself at work. Whether you’ve got to nail a presentation in front of a room of execs or you’re worried about presenting an idea to your manager in your next 1:1, knowing how to frame your idea and effectively communicate it to your audience is incredibly important.
This resource is a near one-stop-shop for public speaking tips. Check it out to get advice on everything from developing your idea, to designing your slides, to actually delivering your presentation.
3) Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown
Though it can be tempting to feel like you have to master everything to be a leader, the most exceptional leaders embrace their vulnerability — and use it to their advantage.
If you’re struggling with being vulnerable with your team, look no further than Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. In the book, Brené Brown dives into a decade of research to unveil the power of vulnerability, and gives tips on how you can open up more in your own life.
Think about the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten. Chances are, it was rough to receive … but you were better in the end for it.
That’s exactly what happened to Kim Scott. After an important presentation, Scott’s boss, Sheryl Sandberg — yes, that Sheryl — had some feedback. Harsh feedback. The kind of feedback that stings. But because Scott knew that Sandberg was coming from a compassionate place when giving the feedback, Scott accepted it, moved on, and became better.
Scott took this pivotal interaction and used it to develop a framework for giving better feedback at work. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, I’d highly suggest taking the time to read her framework.
(We also had the pleasure of having Kim Scott on The Growth Show. If you’re interested in hearing more about her perspective on leadership, listen to her episode below.)
Speaking of feedback: While you’re putting all the advice from all of these books, blogs, podcasts, and frameworks into practice, don’t you wish someone would give you feedback on how you’re doing?
Enter CareerLark, a Slack bot that helps you seek out on-the-fly advice on skills you’re most interested in improving.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say the skill you’d like to get better at is public speaking. You could use CareerLark to ping your boss after your next big presentation to get real-time feedback on how it went — all through Slack.
Micro-feedback in real-time? Great for your skill development (and great practice for your boss, too).
6) Advice From Real People
Sometimes, getting feedback from someone who isn’t in your company or industry can be the most enlightening. If you’re looking to step outside your bubble, here are a few apps to help:
- RealTalk: This app features interviews and advice from real people in tons of different industries. Learn what it’s really like to be in a job — it could help you better benchmark your own experiences and uncover new ways of thinking.
- Advice.vc: Even if you’re not in a startup, turning to a venture capitalist (VC) for advice could get you through the trickier situations at work. For $20 (which gets donated to charity, not pocketed), ask a VC expert about a problem you’re facing, and get help finding a solution.
- Glassbreakers: If you’re a woman struggling to find a mentor in your industry, check out this tool. It’ll match you with another brilliant woman in your space who could give you great advice about developing your leadership skills.
7) Online Courses
So far, the leadership resources largely have to do with management and communication … but that’s not the only way to level up in your career.
Sometimes, it’s about becoming really, really good at a certain part of your job (or a skill that you want to be part of your job one day). For that to happen, you just need to hunker down and learn it.
An online course can be a great way to do just that. While where you find an online class differs greatly by the skill you’re looking to develop, here are a few places I’d recommend checking out if you want to improve your marketing-related skills:
- Inbound Certification: If you want a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of marketing today, check out our free certification.
- Design Lab: Want to up your design skills? Check out Design Labs. You’ll be given real assignments to build your knowledge — and a mentor to help you through each one.
- Codecademy: Learn to code — for free — at Codecademy. This is especially helpful if you’re the type of person who learns best through lots of hands-on experience.
- Lynda’s Excel Courses: If you’re interested in advancing your data analysis skills, you’re gonna have to learn how to use Excel. Period. Check out Lynda’s Excel courses for more help.
8) Industry-Specific Slack Communities
Many of us are on Slack all day to communicate with our coworkers, but there are lots of opportunities to use the platform to connect and learn from folks outside our company. In fact, many industries have Slack groups you can join to talk about the latest trends and get advice on problems you’re facing. (Or lurk in the background like I do to absorb as much information as possible.)
To find a community to join, I’d recommend checking out these two resources:
Maybe the resources above haven’t appealed to you. Maybe you’re at a loss for what kind of skills you want to develop. Maybe you’re not even convinced you want to be a leader in your field at all … but you aren’t sure what to do next.
If you’re already doing a little soul searching, you should take a few minutes to check out The Next Five. It’s a free assessment that can help you identify the next step in your career.
Bonus: Your “diagnosis” will come with looooots more resources to help you make meaningful progress toward that new goal. (Because the only thing better than nine leadership resources is tailored resources to your specific situation … am I right?)
What are some of the most helpful leadership resources you’ve come across? Share your favorites in the comments.