How do leaders and other operators in the corporate world rise to their challenges and come out on top?

One way is by pursuing continuous professional development. Leaders build their skills and knowledge, and reinforce them constantly, to perform their duties more effectively. When unexpected challenges materialise — and you can be sure they will — leaders overcome them because they’ve equipped themselves with the tools and knowledge to act accordingly. 

What is professional development, though? How does it help you? 

Below we provide insight into professional development and, more specifically, into online training courses. We explain what they are, how they can help you, and how to choose the right one for you. We explore some key business leadership skills and some training options we offer to help you build those skills, and we also answer some common questions people ask us about our courses.

Online training courses and professional development: what you need to know

In this section, we’ll explain what professional development and online training courses are, how they can help you and why, as a professional, you might sign up for an online training course.

What is professional development?

‘Professional development’ describes the different types of specialised training, professional learning or formal education that enhances your skill set, knowledge, competency and general effectiveness as a professional. 

What are online training courses?

An online training course is a course you do over the internet to improve existing skills or knowledge or build new knowledge and skills. You can do this at home or anywhere else where you have access to the internet. 

Online training courses can be free, or you can pay for them. The course provider may be a professional in the field, or a professional body, institution, training company or other agents may be offering the course. You may also receive a professional certification or form of accreditation at the end of the course.

How can online training help my professional development?

Online training helps your professional development in several different ways:

  • it’s flexible — you can fit online courses around your lifestyle or work commitments;
  • you can access the training from anywhere — the training gives you the freedom to study where you want, rather than force you to go to a specific venue;
  • you’ll save money— you won’t have to spend money on travel or book accommodation;
  • online training is interactive — you can join communities and share knowledge;
  • you’ll receive expert support — a course facilitator can answer your questions and moderate forums;
  • you’ll build experience with online technologies — online training will prepare you for tasks that involve working with technology or the internet; 
  • you can track your own progress — you can monitor your own progress and evaluate what your next steps should be.

Strategic leadership

Why do professionals take online professional development courses?

Professionals have different reasons for taking them. Below are some of the main ones:

To improve knowledge and strengthen skills

As a professional, you want to do your job as effectively as possible. Online training will allow you to build skills and retain them. If you complete a module but never put your freshly built new skill into practice, it will deteriorate.

To create a route into employment or move up the career ladder

Some of the best online training courses create a route into employment. At junior and middle-management level, recruiters look at online training courses to differentiate between candidates. 

Taking an online course shows you take initiative and want to stay ahead of the curve. Employers like this and building your skills and knowledge can open the door to a new job or to a promotion that requires them.

To add value to the business

The resultant skills and knowledge you build by completing online training programmes allow you to add value to your company. You’re making yourself more of an asset to the business. 

If the business starts downsizing, or even if the business leader(s) or owner(s) just decide to steer the business in a new direction, the time and effort you’ve invested in online training will serve you well. When the C-suite starts pushing for redundancies, your skills could keep you out of the firing line. No one’s indispensable, of course, but the business will find it harder to get rid of you if you’re the only one who possesses a specific valuable skill.

To build confidence

Online training is a stellar confidence booster. The training gives you the chance to learn something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone, which, in turn, builds confidence. Not only that, however, but you feel more equipped to address the challenges of your role, tackle any unforeseen obstacles you may encounter, and assume new responsibilities. 

To stay up to date on developments in the company and in their industry

Online training courses help you keep up to date with developments in your company and industry. That could be a new tool or management method or technique, or even just a new resource for information. A good online course will also point you in the direction of extra resources so you can learn more about topics.

Staying up to date creates a good impression in front of clients. As well as helping the business to remain at the forefront of your industry (or to move towards it), the knowledge you build inspires confidence in your clients. They’ll see that you and the business move with the times.

Online training courses

The key benefits of online training courses

According to statistics published by the consumer research company Statista on the use of online training courses and study materials in 2020, people between the age of 25 and 34 were the most likely to have taken an online course. We can understand that. Online training courses are a fantastic way to support your professional development and career progression.

There are lots of pros to online training. We’ve picked out some of the many main benefits.

Online training courses are flexible

Adult life comes with endless responsibilities and pressures. The pressure to hold down a job, the pressure to pay the bills, the pressure to feed the family, the pressure to keep learning so you can be the best you can be, and more. If you can’t attend one of our in-house training courses, for instance, you don’t have to miss out. Online training enables you to fit the learning around your lifestyle and work responsibilities, and still meet your professional development needs.

You can access online training from anywhere

The beauty of online training is precisely in the fact it’s all online, so you can access it from anywhere that you have an internet connection. Attending an online training course, which you can do by visiting our virtual classrooms, will spare you the inconvenience of a commute. If your job forces you to travel a lot, you can still complete the course while you’re travelling.

You’ll save money

Since the training is online and you can do it at home, you’ll save money on travel and accommodation. The costs for the provider are also lower, which helps to keep the course cost down, and the course can also be a little shorter. 

As it happens, if you’re a business leader and wish to cut the cost of providing training for your employees, we might be able to help you out. As part of the Accelerate Cheshire and Warrington project —a £30 million programme of government grants to support businesses in the Cheshire and Warrington area—we deliver select training to businesses in the region who have applied successfully for funding under the programme. Find out more on our funded training page.

Online training is interactive

Building relationships is important in any leadership role, and online courses give you plenty of opportunity for that. Forums, chat rooms, and question-and-answer functions all create scope for knowledge sharing and asking questions, and everyone has an equal say rather than one person dominating the conversation as can sometimes happen in classrooms. You’ll get to know the other students and interact with them.

You’ll receive expert support

Course facilitators don’t just deliver a class and then vanish into thin air until the next class. During an online training course, you’ll still be able to consult them. They’ll answer your questions and moderate forums. Meet our team of tutors to see who you could be working with on your next course, programme or training session with us.

You’ll build experience with online technologies

Online training exposes the learner to online technology. Not only do you learn from the content, but you’ll also improve your technological skills, benefit from using communications technology, and become more familiar with how online training procedures work. Technophobes suffer badly in today’s digital world, but online training can turn that around, equipping you with the skills to tackle web- or tech-based tasks more easily. 

You can track your progress

When you start a conventional course, it’s hard to know how much progress you’re making. Online training courses make it much easier. You can track the modules you’ve studied already. You can take assessments. You can receive feedback and guidance from the course facilitator. You’ll be able to reflect on your progress and involvement, enabling you to work out what the next steps should be to carry forward your professional development.

Virtual courses

Finding the right online training course

Of course, to succeed as a business leader takes a host of skills and character traits, from organisational skills; to communication skills; to crisis management; and more. We’ve picked out some key skills or traits you might wish to strengthen and have suggested courses you could take to improve them.

Communication skills

As a leader in a business, you’ll have the full range of conversations within the business. You’ll speak to people one on one. You’ll address departments. You’ll present to the whole team of employees, inform them of developments or issue instructions. You’ll have to communicate over the phone, on social media, and by email. Crucially, communication isn’t a one-way street, and it’s as much about listening to others as making sure people in the business (and outside of it) understand you.

Which course would be right for you?

In this regard, you’ll find our Emotional Intelligence for Leaders course helpful. This course is for business owners and leaders at all levels who wish to improve their interpersonal skills. Aims of the course include developing effective communication skills, increasing your own self-awareness (essential for leadership), being able to relate to colleagues, building productive professional relationships, and understanding emotions, how they affect behaviour and performance and how you can manage them. 

Motivational skills

Working isn’t just about the salary. People will stay with a company or leave it for reasons other than a fat paycheque. As a leader, you’ve got to inspire people and make them believe in your company. Whether it’s rewards or extra responsibilities, you’ve got to learn what works best for them, will make them more passionate about their work, and, in turn, will make them more productive.

Which course would be right for you?

Our Strategic Leadership Masterclass is just the thing. Strategic leadership is about forming a vision for your business, encouraging the rest of the organisation to buy into that vision, and running the business in a way that works towards achieving that vision. As part of the masterclass, you’ll learn not just about leadership theories, but also about selecting appropriate approaches for different situations, about motivating and leading teams effectively, analysing opportunities for team development and using the team’s strengths. Belief is an essential ingredient of strategic leadership.

Creativity and problem-solving skills

You’re going to make decisions and deal with situations your business or organisation hasn’t encountered before, and which require lateral thinking to address them or resolve them. It’s an opportunity for growth. Solving problems effectively in an unconventional way, if the situation calls for it, will inspire your employees, and they’ll respect you as a leader. 

Which course would be right for you?

That would make our Strategic Decision-Making and Problem Solving Programme ideal for you if you’re a business owner, head of the department, C-suite executive or senior leader. The programme aims to help you understand different approaches to strategy, such as creative and analytical; different ways to develop strategy; different approaches to decision-making and problem solving; evaluating progress; and more. It’s all about developing your confidence and ability to make solid decisions.

Leadership Accreditation Courses

Your questions answered

Perhaps at this point, you still have a few questions. Below we’ve answered some of the most common ones we receive:

Where can I take an online training course?

You can take a course on a specially tailored platform or book a course with a specialist online training course provider such as ourselves. To find out about the courses we offer, visit the courses section of our website. If you have any questions, contact us via the details on our contact page, and one of our advisors will get back to you as soon as possible.

What do I need to participate in an online training course?

We aim to make online training as convenient as possible for you.

All you need are the following:

  • a laptop or desktop computer with a reliable internet connection;
  • enabled microphone and speaker facilities;
  • a functioning webcam;
  • pen and paper for taking notes.

We don’t ask you to have formal qualifications to take part in our courses, but we advise you to have two or three years of management or leadership experience before enrolling in some of our leadership programmes and courses.

Are online courses self-study places or scheduled?

We run scheduled sessions, and courses run on specific dates. At the end of a day’s training (and at the end of the course), we email you all the course slides and support materials so you can go back over everything you’ve covered during the session(s) and retain what you’ve learned. If you’re not sure what you can expect from one of our online sessions, visit our Virtual Classroom page for details of how we run the online training or contact us directly. 

Can I take multiple courses?

Yes. In fact, we’ve developed the Leadership Toolkit, a flexible set of one-day training courses and workshops for people who would like to advance their professional development in more than one area at a time. You can book a single course or select several courses and put them together into a course bundle. Contact us for advice and pricing.

Will I receive a certificate?

Depending on the course you choose, you could receive postgraduate certifications or CMI Level 5 or CMI Level 7 qualifications. These latter qualifications are vocational qualifications equivalent to postgraduate level.

On our site, you’ll also find several Continuous Professional Development (CPD)-accredited courses. Before signing up for training with us, however, check the requirements of your employer and/or your professional or regulatory body to see what qualifications they recognise and how many points they require.

We also provide digital badges at the end of your programme. You can share these unique badges with your social network, which is useful on professional-oriented platforms such as LinkedIn.

To find out more about our certificates and accredited course points, visit our Qualifications page.

When can I start?

Start dates vary from course to course, but we’ll issue you with course materials four weeks before the course begins. This allows you to prepare well in advance for the course and get the most out of it.

Online training courses are a convenient way to build the skills and knowledge you need to thrive in your role. We offer a range of professional development courses, programmes and workshops, and our highly qualified course facilitators are here to support you as you continue your professional development. Email us at, fill in the form on our contact page or call us on 0161 826 4041, and find out how we can help you drive your professional development forward.

The Mini-MBA

Our Mini-MBA takes its inspiration from the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programme, one of the UK’s most popular postgraduate courses. We select a number of key elements from the MBA syllabus and deliver them in an accessible, condensed form for those managers who do not have the time needed to gain the academic award.

It’s a highly applied and participative programme.

The Director’s Development Programme (DDP)

Our Director’s Development Programme (DDP) is a practical and interactive programme designed for the personal and professional development of senior organisational leaders, business owners and aspiring directors.

Being a director can empower you to inspire and lead others but it also comes with a range of challenges, expectations and legal responsibilities. Learn how to deal effectively with the challenges and opportunities you may face.

The Leadership Toolkit Series

Our Leadership Toolkit is open to anyone looking to develop their business and management skills. Whether you are an aspiring leader, new manager, budding entrepreneur or business owner, you will find a wide range of subjects and courses to support you with your development needs.

The Toolkit offers an excellent way to progress your skills, grow your connections and discuss business concepts with like-minded individuals and business experts.



Find a course to suit you…

Search for the type of course you are interested in, for example, leadership, coaching, marketing



Get in touch

One of our experts can call you back or help you with any enquiries. Call us on 0161 509 2999.

Request a callback  Call Us


Why Choose INPD

In Professional Development provides accredited leadership and management courses, transforming the learning of professionals across every sector.

From your first contact with us, we will help you tailor the precise training you or your company needs.

That’s the INPD way.

Benefits of using INPD

  • Our courses and programmes are delivered face-to-face in modern, convenient locations and can also be delivered in house on your premises
  • Receive maximum return on your training and development investment
  • Get involved in high-quality, content-driven events and programmes that enable specialist communities to meet, connect, network and share knowledge