25 Free Leadership Development Resources

by Jennifer Miller on March 3, 2010

in Leadership

Free Leadership ResourcesAs part of my gig as a guest on the HR Happy Hour’s Leadership Show , I agreed to pull together some leadership resources for the Happy Hour listeners.  When I talk with clients about leadership development, they often say one or both of the following:

a)      We don’t have the time to develop something

b)      We don’t have the money to train leaders

This list is designed to help you with both of these challenges. These resources are a list of white papers, downloads and other great freebies offered by some of the most prominent vendors and thought-leaders in leadership development.  Most of the resources listed have a “for pay” component as well, so if your company is in the market for these tools, please do check them out.

“Many hands make the load light” and that is so true with the creation of this list.  A huge shout-out goes to my fellow leadership development colleagues Dave Brand, Dan McCarthy and Susan Zelinski for adding their favorites to the mix. I’m grateful for their contributions.

A Great Place to Start: Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy

Last year, Dan wrote an excellent post on http://www.greatleadershipbydan.com/2009/02/how-to-design-frugal-leadership.html. It is spot-on with practical suggestions and I agree completely that leadership development need not be pricey.  However, his suggestions do cost some $$, and I promised you “free”—so here we go. . .

Free Downloadable Research, White Papers, Podcasts

Note: some of the resources do require you to enter your contact information before allowing you to download, so you may not consider it 100% “free.”

I’m highlighting the well-known vendors because they have a lot of great content that’s easily accessible.  As Dan McCarthy points out in item #3 of his frugal leadership post, there are thousands of independent niche-oriented leadership development consultants out there. If you know of one that provides similar high-quality content, please feel free to post it in the Comments section.

Aberdeen Group

Achieve Global Research Library

Awesomely Simple Resources site; this is by author John Spence who published Awesomely Simple last year. I just read this book and it’s a really great overall management primer. This site provides additional “how to’s” that are based on the book.

Bersin and Associates Research Library

Center for Creative Leadership Podcasts

DDI.com’s Thought Leadership page

Elliot Masie consortium: LearningTown forums

Fort Hill Company’s Knowledge Center

Interaction Associates: much is subscription-based, but look on the left-hand side of the homepage for free downloads, including excellent white paper on Improving Virtual Meetings

Institute for Corporate Productivity

Jim Collins Leadership articles

Ken Blanchard Companies leadership white papers (creator of Situational Leadership)

Marshall Goldsmith Library “free resources” tab Example: Athena video clips

Personnel Decisions White Paper on Strengths

Seth Godin’s Free e-book: What Matters Now

Tom Peters Free Stuff

The Leadership Challenge Model

Leadership Blogs

Oh, where to start? There are SO many.  Here are some of my favorites. . .

All Things Workplace by Steve Roesler.  When I read Steve’s blog, it’s clear he does his homework.  His insights are supported by interesting statistics paired with real-life examples.

Aspire Collaborative Services by Mary Jo Asmus. Mary Jo is an executive coach and a former HR executive for a Fortune 50 company. She knows her stuff and writes thoughtful essays on the foundational aspects of leadership.

Bret L. Simmons Dr. Bret (as he’s known on Twitter) is on the faculty of the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. He’s also a leadership consultant. His blog takes on tough topics; plus I like that he assigns his students leadership blogs to read as part of their coursework—a contemporary take on college homework.

Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy. Yes, I already featured him, but his blog is consistent, balanced and practical.  Because he’s a practitioner (not a consultant) he’s not selling a thing. His content is always worth a read.

Human Capital League This blog isn’t strictly leadership-based. It aggregates many blogs that write on the topic of workforce development.  Each day, several blog posts are highlighted on the Human Capital League’s main page.  It’s worth checking out a few times a week.

Lead Change by Mike Henry. The founder of the immensely popular and active LinkedIn group by the same name, Mike blogs on a variety of subjects, all with the overarching theme of creating character-based leaders.

University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Leadership and Management blog: offers an excellent series of blog posts regarding contemporary issues in leadership and management.

The Weekly Leader features a nice round-up of leadership articles, interviews and podcasts on a diverse cross section of leaders from a variety of industries.

On Twitter?

Check out my  Leadership Round Up post.


[Note: I  don’t specifically endorse any of the services, products or opinions contained within the respective websites, other than to say, “hey, here’s an interesting site, go check it out.”]

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

davidburkus March 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Great list. Thanks for sharing. Hoping my own LeaderLab will earn its way on one day.

Jennifer March 3, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Hi, David.

I think it just *did* find its way onto The People Equation. 🙂
Your library features many of the thought leaders that I highlight, so we are in sync. Thanks for stopping by,


Dan McCarthy March 5, 2010 at 5:24 am

Jennifer –
Thanks so much for the endorsement and for the awesome list.

Mary Jo Asmus March 5, 2010 at 5:32 am


Wow. What a great resource you’ve pulled together here! Thanks so much for including my site.

Becky Robinson March 5, 2010 at 6:17 am

Terrific resource, Jennifer. As always, I am grateful for your support and friendship. Well done!

Christian DE NEEF March 6, 2010 at 1:38 am

Great list. Would 12manage.com fit here too?


victorio March 6, 2010 at 4:22 am

The show was a good one Jennifer. I enjoyed the participants thoughts and opinions on the subject of leadership. I will probably write a post about it as I have some opinions on what a leader and leadership ought to look like these days.

I also appreciate that you’re being so generous by providing these resources! For those who truly listened to the show, you’ve given them a way to continue their education on the subject. Thank you!

Bret Simmons March 6, 2010 at 6:29 am

Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer! Honored to be on such a great list. Thanks for doing the work on this. Bret

Jennifer March 8, 2010 at 7:26 am


If you do write a post, please be sure to let me know. I’d love to see it!

Jennifer March 8, 2010 at 7:30 am


I just checked out 12manage.com. It looks like a site with a lot of great content. The only challenge I foresee is that one has to set up an account to gain access. Yes, it’s a free account, but I was looking for resources that require very little set-up time to access.

Joaquin Roca March 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Great list, Jennifer. Not only am I going to feed your blog (which I found through Dan McCarthy’s awards edition), I now have a great list of other blogs to check out. On a separate note, while out service is not free, we do have five free pdfs listed on our FAQ page for people looking to create leadership competency models and 360 feedback surveys. Any feedback you have for us would be greatly appreciated as well.

Thanks for putting this list together, it is a great resource.

Tim Walther March 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Thanks for the research and information. I have included a couple of the featured blogs on our resources page as well. If anyone out there is seeking information on experiential leadership development, http://www.granddynamics.com is a great place to go. I am offering my book with 120 models, methods and tools for developing teamwork and leadership for free (at least for now!). Experiential training is a powerful methodology for developing leaders. Tim Walther, Grand Dynamics International

Jennifer Miller March 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm


Thanks. That looks like a great resource!

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