How Can I Build My Leadership Skills if I Attend College Online?

While an online education does offer many benefits, it does have its drawbacks, too. One of these drawbacks is the lack of an opportunity to work with others and develop leadership skills sought after by future employers. This drawback should not prevent you from getting an online education, however. There are many ways to gain leadership skills, even while working on an online degree.

Job or Volunteer Experience

If you have time for one, a job or volunteer experience can help you strengthen your leadership abilities. With hard work and dedication, you should become familiar with how to do your job correctly and effectively. Then you will be able to lead new employees in doing an exceptional job as well. You may earn a title such as “trainer” or “manager” or you may just be generally helpful. Either way, you will have the experience you need to make good decisions that others will follow.

Knowledge or Skills

Leaders need to be very knowledgeable in whatever area they are hoping to lead. If you do not know much about something, it is very difficult to come up with great ideas that will inspire others to follow your lead. Gain the knowledge you need to become a leader by reading extensively in your field. Read the works of pioneers of your field so you can better understand the heart of your future career. Read current periodicals published in your field so you can keep up-to-date with the latest advances and new technologies available. The more you read, the more you will know and the better you will lead.


While reading is incredibly beneficial for gaining knowledge about your field of study, nothing beats hands-on-experience. If there is any way you can get an internship in your field of study, it would be well worth your time. Attend meetings and listen to the ideas of leaders who are already working in your field. Observe how they perform their daily duties. Learn the ins and outs of various jobs connected to yours so your ideas will be grounded in a realistic perspective of the entire issue.

Leadership Style

According to the University of Kent’s webpage, there are five different types of leaders: authoritarian, procedural, transformational, participative and laissez-faire. By understanding what type of leader you are, you can capitalize on your strengths. Authoritarian leaders typically tell their team what they want done without much input from others. Procedural leaders prefer to do things by the book and do not value much creative input. Transformational leaders spend a lot of time communicating and inspire, rather than demand, their team into action. Participative leaders consult with their team to get everyone’s ideas and opinions before making the final decision. Laissez-faire leaders delegate tasks to team members and trust them to each complete their part.

Completing an online degree does not have to keep your from developing the leadership skills necessary for success in the workplace. Use your college years to gather as much information and experience as possible so that when you find a job in your field, you can use your knowledge and skills to become a great leader.