Leadership Courses

These courses provide practical, MBA-level content from Cornell University. These courses are designed for working professionals ready to skill up for a career move, those who have an MBA and seek additional training, and those in a leadership position who want to deepen or broaden their skills. Courses focus on strategy development, business acumen, and the crucial leadership skills needed for execution. Meaningful, practical course projects and discussions help you apply the course concepts to the realities and challenges you face in your own organization.

Explore Courses

Discovering Sales Growth Opportunities

This course is part of eCornell's Sales Growth certificate program. You'll learn not only how to spot trends and uncover new pockets of growth, but also how to act on the insight.

Improving Engagement

Research shows that engagement is the key factor that promotes higher performance and effort, greater returns, and lower turnover. Yet across companies, industries, and countries, studies show that only 11-19% of employees are highly engaged. In this course, you will examine the foundational drivers of engagement, explore the components of successful engagement initiatives, and identify strategies for creating stronger engagement in teams.

Working with Legal Professionals

To handle legal matters appropriately, business people need to know how to get good legal advice. This may require finding and retaining a lawyer, or it may involve working with existing in-house counsel. Business people must understand how lawyers approach legal issues and what lawyers need from clients in order to represent them effectively.

With content provided by four legal experts, including Cornell Law School professors and practicing attorneys, this course explains how lawyers work, how to establish an effective relationship with both in-house and external counsel, and how to work with legal professionals on business transactions and litigation. A course project guides you in applying these principles of attorney-client collaboration to your own work situation. 

Exploring Specialty Areas of Business Law

Running a business is, in many ways, a legal undertaking in itself. With so many moving parts and ongoing concerns, several areas of law are touched upon while doing business: employment laws and regulations, real property, litigation, business tax planning, and startup financial structuring. 

While it’s important to draw on expert legal counsel when required, it’s equally as important to be informed yourself. The more working knowledge you have of these specialty areas of law, the better you’ll be able to identify and discuss them and be prepared to face your pressing issues head on.

This course is co-authored by by six legal experts, including Cornell Law School professors and practicing attorneys. Through a rich set of animated videos and a course project that ensures application of the concepts to your own work situation, you’ll be ready face legal issues that are of particular relevance to your business. 

Structuring Business Agreements for Success

Contracts are often written by legal professionals, but the best business deals are ones worked out collaboratively by people who know their business operations intimately. 

This course will help you gain a seat at the negotiating table, familiarizing you with legal terms and concepts involved in business deals. You’ll learn how to collaborate with legal counsel and help negotiating parties address information gaps to reach agreement. 

With content provided by two Cornell Law School professors and two practicing corporate attorneys, this course is rich with practical video content and a course project that’s designed to help you apply what you’ve learned to your own work situation. 

Embracing the Basics of Business Law

Presented by five legal experts with deep knowledge and experience in both academia and the corporate space, this course introduces you to a range of topics that serve as a foundation for dealing with legal matters in business.

You begin with a look at the sources of law, the formation of legal arguments and the growing role of regulatory agencies. The course proceeds with a tour of online legal resources, then moves to various kinds of business structures, along with the circumstances under which you might use each. The course ends with a close look at the legal responsibilities that apply to people holding certain positions in business. 

Designing an Effective Team Structure

Learn how to design a team from scratch or reorganize an existing team for maximum efficiency and optimal group dynamics. 

Women in Leadership: Outsmart the Work-Life Balance

Applying Strategic Influence

Good leaders influence the people around them, but excellent leaders refine that skill and know exactly how they influence people and how to extend that past their direct reports.

Mastering the Essentials of Influence

How you influence your team is a big predictor how well it works. Learn the ins and outs of the expectancy cycle and why being a positive influence is critical for success.

Interpreting the Behavior of Others

Learn how to accurately predict what drives your team members through a set of proven tools, ensuring your team works efficiently together. 

Identifying and Managing Emotions

Emotional intelligence is a critical ability all leaders must possess to not only regulate their own emotional responses, but to also manage the emotions of their team members. 

The Psychology of Getting Things Done

Leaders are responsible for getting the work done as quickly and flawlessly as possible. Improve your team’s effectiveness by employing the simple 5-step framework created by Cornell Professor Filipowicz.

Women in Leadership: Giving and Receiving Feedback

Women in Leadership: Using Emotional Intelligence to Drive Results

Women in Leadership: Negotiation Skills

Counteracting Unconscious Bias

There is no such thing as a workplace that lacks diversity. Despite decades of legal and social reform aimed at reducing discrimination in the workplace, inequality continues to be a significant problem in all societies and most workplaces.

In this course, you will identify the perceptual and psychological processes that impact the way that individuals interact with people who are demographically dissimilar from them. You will examine the psychological processes that impact decision making within organizations and identify how professionals can design better work practices and help to more effectively leverage the potential among employees.

As a trained psychologist with research and consulting expertise related to diversity and inclusion, Cornell University Professor Lisa Nishii is uniquely positioned to help course participants understand the complex dynamics underlying diversity challenges and opportunities within organizations.

Diversity and Inclusion at Work

The management of diversity and inclusion has evolved from a focus on compliance to a strategic-level effort with a demonstrated positive impact on an organization's performance. In the current business climate, companies that strive for both diversity and inclusion are achieving intended business results. They provide the proof that diversity and inclusion are much more than a legal or moral requirement; they’re also a competitive advantage.

This course provides an overview of the evolution of the management of diversity and inclusion and presents targeted and high-involvement diversity practices. It examines diversity in the contexts of teams and leaders, and it frames diversity in terms of current business and cultural challenges.

During this course, you will complete a project in which you identify sources of inclusion, align inclusion to improve employee engagement and business results, and determine methods to assess the effectiveness of inclusion initiatives. At the end of the course, you will use the results from the project to prepare a final presentation describing how to apply your work to your organization.

Fostering an Inclusive Climate

Inclusion is a relational construct. It’s ultimately about how your team functions and performs based on the quality of social connections, openness to learning, agility, and depth of decision making. How can you foster greater inclusion within your workgroup? Throughout these modules, you will be asked to reflect upon your own experiences and apply the lessons in the modules in your own role.

You will examine the concept of climate, specifically inclusive climates, as well as learn about the specific behaviors and skills you need to demonstrate in order to be successful in shaping an inclusive climate.

Make a Convincing Case for Your Solution

When trying to persuade someone, the tendency is to begin in advocacy mode—for example: “Here’s something I want you to agree to.” Most people do not react positively to the feeling of being sold something. The usual reaction is to literally or figuratively start backing up. To make a convincing case, it is more effective to engage with the decision maker as a partner in problem solving. This makes your counterpart feel less like someone is trying to get them to buy something and more like you are working together to bring about an outcome that is desirable to both parties. Begin by asking yourself: “What is the problem you and the decision maker are solving together?”

By the end of this course, you will have learned how to deeply analyze a problem, possible solutions, and the associated risks as well as the most persuasive and efficient ways of presenting your proposal.

Solve Problems Using Evidence and Critical Thinking

Have you ever known a very intelligent person who made a very bad decision? If so, you know that having a high IQ does not guarantee that you automatically make critically thoughtful decisions. Critically thoughtful problem solving is a discipline and a skill—one that allows you to make decisions that are the product of careful thought, and the results of those decisions help your team and organization thrive.

In this course you will practice a disciplined, systematic approach to problem solving that helps ensure that your analysis of a problem is comprehensive, is based on quality credible evidence, and takes full and fair account of the most probable counterarguments and risks. The result of this technique is a thoroughly defensible assessment of what the problem is, what is causing it, and the most effective plan of action to address it. Finally, you will identify and frame a problem by assessing its context and develop a well-reasoned and implementable solution that addresses the underlying causes.

Influence and Motivation for Engineering Leaders

The best leaders are inspirational and transformative. They motivate, inspire, and empower rather than simply dictating or directing those around them. Leaders need to garner specific results that often require sustainable behavioral changes for both individuals and groups. To get these results, you need to both influence and motivate the people around you.

Many people view influence and motivation as one and the same, but they are not, and it is important to be able to use them separately or together. Influence involves having an impact on other people's actions, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, or emotions, while motivation is about getting people to change and sustain that change after they have been influenced. In this course, Professor Erica Dawson, Ph.D., the Nancy and Bob Selander Director of Engineering Leadership Programs at Cornell University, will help you expand your repertoire of tools and techniques for influencing and motivating others, ultimately leading to the desired and sustainable behavioral changes you want to see.

Leading Challenging Conversations

Sometimes there's a person, a situation, or an issue that really drives you crazy. Often, the only way forward is to face the issue head on by having a conversation about it with those involved. While that may sound simple, the situations are often emotionally charged, and people tend to avoid these conversations at all costs. Generally, issues that require these conversations don't rise to the level of a conflict and aren't considered performance issues, making it even harder for those involved to know how they should move forward.

Leading challenging conversations is about facing your discomfort and dedicating yourself to the conversation that needs to happen. You'll learn to identify issues that require a conversation, and to self check if you are the correct person to have the conversation. Once you've identified a conversation, you'll follow a process that helps you create a plan, conduct the conversation, and follow up.

Let's be clear, having a conversation doesn't automatically lead to a resolution. Not having a resolution can be frustrating for many of us, so it's important that you think about success as either fully resolving the issue or helping you identify a path for productively approaching the problem using tools that you have. In the course project, you'll identify a conversation in your workplace, create a plan, practice having the conversation, and determine the appropriate next steps. Professor Nobles will guide you on how to do this using proven strategies and a refined process. This course focuses on conversations you'll have, not coaching others to have these conversations. However, the process that is taught can be shared with peers as they face situations requiring challenging conversations.

Courageous Communication for Engineering Leaders

Leaders need to be bold visionaries and trendsetters. They need to guide people and inspire those people to achieve the vision they lay out. To do so, the leader must be courageous. As leaders put so much of their efforts into guiding and inspiring others, it’s fundamental for them to be skilled communicators. Engineers may not have spent much time refining their communication skills, especially those that involve a great deal of courage. However, leaders have and feel emotions within the workplace, and can harness those emotions to improve their leadership skills and become more courageous communicators.

In this course, Professor Erica Dawson, Ph.D., the Nancy and Bob Selander Director of Engineering Leadership Programs at Cornell University, will help you develop your confidence and motivation to enact courageous communication. You will start by developing a new perspective on what courageous communication in the workplace is and how emotions play a role. You will then set intentions for moving forward. Ultimately your work will help you use the skills associated with courageous communication to develop and manage your team using feedback and leveraging difficult situations.

Collaborative Communication for Engineering Leaders

Leaders need to be able to collaborate, innovate, problem solve, and build relationships. All of these core responsibilities require excellent communication skills. Often when thinking of leaders, we picture them addressing crowds, giving directives, and commanding forces. Leaders need to be able to do those things, but they also need to be top-notch listeners and have the ability to use a variety of communication tactics at the right times.

In this course, Professor Erica Dawson, PhD., the Nancy and Bob Selander Director of Engineering Leadership Programs at Cornell University, will break down critical skills that facilitate collaborative communication. She will guide you as you practice and apply these techniques.

Many of the skills in this course, including listening and asking powerful questions, are core to strong interpersonal communication. These skills help you establish, improve, and maintain relationships. You will focus on workplace examples, but these skills are applicable outside of the workplace as well. Many of the skills are hard to learn and even harder to make a habit. Your life outside of work will impact your work and your ability to have good relationships. Mastering these communication skills and learning to leverage them to create open and collaborative communication is key to the future of any leader.

Decision-Making Skills for Engineering Leaders

Leaders of all kinds have to make informed and resolute decisions. Engineers are often fact and data driven, which can make them excellent decision makers. In general, everyone has a decision-making style—what separates out great decision makers is their ability to adapt based on a problem’s needs.

You will begin this course by evaluating your default decision-making style using a data-driven tool, “Decision-Making for Leaders” designed by Victor Vroom, a leading expert on decision making. You will then explore what quality decisions look like. These initial steps will set you up to more effectively take action and make good decisions.

Professor Erica Dawson, PhD., the Nancy and Bob Selander Director of Engineering Leadership Programs at Cornell University, guides you through the course, allowing you to evaluate yourself, digest the results and data, then assess your ability to effectively adapt. The course concludes with the creation of an action plan, setting yourself on a path for future success.

Women in Leadership: Navigating The Double Bind

Diagnosing Workplace Conflict

Every workplace has conflict. We all see it, and at some point, we all feel its impact. The word conflict has a negative connotation for most people, but despite that feeling, not all conflict is bad. Most often, the problem arises when conflict is ignored and people just wish for it to go away on its own.

If you jump right to solving a problem before you fully understand it, you might miss the root cause or underlying issues. Because of this, effectively managing any conflict starts with fully diagnosing it. That’s where we’ll begin in this course. Professors Klingel and Nobles, both experts in conflict resolution from the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at the School of Industrial Labor Relations, will help you master diagnosing conflict.

You’ll get a chance to map out a conflict in your own workplace in the course project. You’ll also spend time discussing your experiences and lessons learned with your peers. After completing the course, you’ll have the tools and skills to fully diagnose any conflict in your life. You’ll also be ready to determine if a conflict is worth addressing, which sets you up to successfully use a problem-solving approach to resolve a conflict. Please note that this course has been designed as a prerequisite to the companion eCornell course, "Applying a Problem-Solving Approach to Conflict".

Applying a Problem-Solving Approach to Conflict

When most of us face conflict, we often either avoid dealing with it, or we jump in and try to force a solution. These responses may be driven by a lack of comfort with or even a fear of conflict. Unfortunately, neither response is always correct, and neither approach should be the first step. Professors Klingel and Nobles will share how to overcome these instincts and successfully apply a problem-solving approach to conflict.

The first course in this series, “Diagnosing Workplace Conflict,” focused on fully diagnosing a conflict without jumping into problem solving. In this course, you’ll look at how to best handle a fully diagnosed conflict using a problem-solving approach. A common issue we’ll address is jumping to solutions before understanding the scope of the conflict and the needs that will have to be addressed to resolve it. Thus, you’ll begin by determining the scope. Depending on the scope you may move forward with the problem-solving approach, or, you may decide to let it go. The problem-solving approach, which consists of eight steps that can be broken down into three key elements, is the framework through which this course is taught. In the course project, you’ll practice applying this approach to a conflict of your choosing. The approach is intended to be used when solving conflict you are directly involved in. Despite this, we’ll offer practical advice on how you could adapt this for other use cases.

Strengths-Based Engineering Leadership

As leaders, we often give and receive feedback about weaknesses and development opportunities. There are typically systems and processes within organizations that encourage this type of feedback and drive employees to improve in specific areas. The question is, why do we spend so much time on weakness, and does it help?

In this course, you will take a different approach to leadership development. Leading from strength is about looking at what someone is naturally good at, as well as the skills gained through experience. You will harness these strengths and learn to leverage and expand them. Leadership development takes time—you won't be done with your journey when you complete this course. With that in mind, the course asks you to look into the future and set personalized development goals.

Values-Based Engineering Leadership

It’s not uncommon for people to act differently when at home, at work, or with different types of people; while common, this is not advisable. Everyone has a set of personal core values, but not everyone is aware of them, and often people don’t spend much time thinking about their values. In contrast, the best leaders learn not only how to tune into their own values, but also how to communicate and live those values in all aspects of life.

In this course, you will work to lead with integrity while inspiring and empowering those around you. Professor Dawson will help you to discover and align your core values. She will guide you to apply your values to your leadership and to create an action plan for the future. Those who master values-based leadership will be able to rise more effectively through the engineering ranks, ultimately allowing them to emerge at the top without losing sight of what values are most important.

Getting the Most From Your Sales Efforts

In this course, you'll learn how maximize your time and resources on sales efforts with priority clients.

Managing Sales Performance for Growth

Learn how to drive performance improvement in your organization by tracking what matters and taking an active management approach.

Sales Negotiation to Maximize Value

This course is part of eCornell's Sales Growth certificate program. Whether you're conducting a sales call or negotiating a deal, solid preparation and execution will help you capture the most value from that interaction.

Winning With Your Key Accounts

The course will focus on specific skills and actions to maximize value with your most important accounts.

Leading Collaborative Teams

In today's workforce, adaptation and responsiveness are key elements in the success for an organization.

Motivating People for High Performance

This course answers fundamental questions related to motivating people: How can you tell whether a person is unmotivated or just a poor fit for the job? How can a leader motivate a large group of people at once? And how can middle managers motivate people when there are real obstacles standing in their way?

Interpersonal Communication Skills

To be the best manager you can, you must have good interpersonal skills. Learn what those skills are, how to evaluate your proficiency in each, and how to bolster them if needed.

Leading for Creativity and Innovation

Innovation is all the rage—but do you know what it really means for your organization? Find out what innovation is and how to apply the concept to your team for successful implementation of cutting-edge ideas.

Planning and Delivering Effective Presentations

Being able to effectively formulate and share your ideas verbally is a key skill essential to any leader. Learn the ins and outs of creating dynamic, attention-grabbing presentations.

Negotiation Skills

Being able to effectively negotiate is a critical skill that can be used in all aspects of your life—not just in the business world. Learn the ins and outs of negotiation, including how and when to negotiate.

Leading Organizational Change

Learn how to effectively manage change in your organization by knowing when change is needed, working on getting the change accepted organizationally and implementing change in the best way possible.

Quality and Service Excellence

Leading Across Cultures

In today’s marketplace, leading multicultural teams  is becoming  the norm. Learn the  skills  needed to assess your organization and your management style to ensure you’re leading a diverse team in the best ways possible.

Navigating Power Relationships

In many cases, those in power are the ones who get the final say in organizational decision making. Analyze where you fit in the power hierarchy and how to increase your power to get things done within your organization.

Aligning Performance Measures with Business Strategy

This online course explores the types and sources of measurement error, the use of causal models in analyzing measures of performance, and the differences between managing measures and managing performance.

Leading with Credibility

Without the trust of those you lead and those who support you in an organization, it is next to impossible to be successful. Learn what you need to gain and keep the respect of your colleagues to keep your career moving forward.

Coaching Skills for Leaders

Managing employees isn’t enough anymore. For your company to succeed, you must build relationships through coaching. Get the skills needed to be an effective coach and learn what—and what not—to do to move your organization forward.

Building High-Performing Teams

Becoming a Powerful Leader

There is a difference between being a manager and a leader. Learn what the difference is and how to become a respected leader in your chosen field.

Managing Team Performance

Employee performance isn’t something that should be appraised only once a year—it should be something that is built into your day-to-day management style. Learn how to manage to ensure your team is at its peak performance level.

Effective Hiring and Interviewing

In today’s business environment, front-line managers are being asked to attend to personnel needs in the workplace, including hiring and firing. Learn the skills needed to effectively manage these responsibilities in ways that will benefit your team and your organization.

Managing Time and Priorities

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day work tasks, but an audit of your time and priorities can be essential to ensure you’re spending your time and effort on the right tasks. Learn how to audit yourself, your team and your organization for optimal performance results.

Addressing Workplace Behavior Issues

Learn how to effectively manage workplaces issues—including bullying, harassment, terminations and accommodation requests—in order to foster a healthy, productive work environment for your team.

Strategic Decision Making

Being able to make a timely, well­-reasoned decision is a critical skill every leader must possess. Learn how to hone this skill through a proven methodology from Cornell University.

Leading Strategic Change Initiatives

Competitive Advantage and Profitability

Laying the groundwork for an MBA-level exploration of business strategy, this course will introduce you to well-known tools and frameworks that support evaluating your market landscape in a consistent and thorough way.

The Strategy of Mergers and Acquisitions

Explore what factors motivate and bring about industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A). From the real and imagined benefits of cost reductions and synergies, to the perceived market power of a larger company, you will see where M&A has the potential to both help and harm a business.

Managing Supply Chain Threats and Opportunities

"Growth" can take on many forms. In this online course, learn about how different growth strategies such as horizontal and vertical mergers and buyouts can make your business more competitive.

Strategic Positioning in Markets

Central to your business strategy is identifying your strategic position. Strategic positioning is essentially how your firm "stacks up" to the competition and helps to define the scope and scale of your business. Explore how strategic positioning gives you the advantage in a competitive environment.

The Application of Game Theory to Business Strategy

In this online course, you'll explore the phenomenon of Game Theory and learn how to use it to advantage in your own work.

Strategic and Tactical Pricing

Pricing products requires more than a comparative glance at the competitive landscape. Learn and apply the fundamentals of pricing to bolster your market share.

Choosing the Right Performance Measures for Your Organization

This course introduces managers to the basics of measuring and reporting on the performance of your organization, whether it's a for-profit business, not-for profit, or governmental organization.

Managing Business Capacity with Activity-Based Costing

This online course explores one of the most challenging issues in measuring the margins created by individual managers, departments, products and services: allocating the costs that are incurred simply to provide productive capacity.

Measuring and Improving Efficiency

This online course introduces you to effective techniques for setting prices for the exchange of products and services between different units in a business.

Measuring and Improving Margins

This online course will teach you how to analyze the true cost of products and services that rely heavily on shared resources, common methods of reporting these costs, and devise reports that link reported costs to business strategy.

Measuring and Motivating Performance

This online course will help you understand how to match forms of incentive compensation to your firm's circumstances.