by Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator

Bill Gates majored in pre-law at Harvard and spent much of his time taking math classes and noodling around in the school’s computer lab. He left school after two years. With no credentials, he founded Microsoft, and you know the rest of the story. While you might not achieve Bill Gates levels of accomplishment, success in today’s world is less about credentials and more about being innovative and bold.

Yes, many fields like medicine, law, education and the like require certain credentials to be licensed. You can’t work without them. But what about leadership? Are credentials even important any more?

Even though I’m someone working in a different field than what my educational credentials (Education and Psychology) might dictate, I can vouch for the importance of having credentials. I’m fortunate enough, however, to work in a field that’s still very much a frontier. Only over the last decade have their even been degree programs and credentialing for what I do. Even so, credentials offer a couple of important benefits that give those who hold them an advantage over those who are “bootstrapping” their way up the ladder.

Credentials convey credibility.

You can still live out the classic “rags to riches” success story today, starting at the ground level and working your way to the top. But having credentials is a little bit like hitting a ladder in the classic board game. Someone who graduates with an MBA in Organizational Leadership is simply going to get more attention for leadership positions than the person who doesn’t. The individual who holds the credential is more likely to start their career closer to the board room than the mail room. Why? Credibility. When you’re just starting out, without any measurable experience, holding the credential is going to open doors that would otherwise remain closed.

Credentials can aid in career transition.

For those entering today’s workplace, it’s far more likely that they’re going to have to face career transition at some point. The days of “30 years and gold watch” working within the same industry are passing away. That means the credentials you might have earned with a Bachelor’s or even Masters degree might become irrelevant at some point in your work life. What to do if that happens? Earn different credentials.

As the workplace changes, requirements change with it.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to find a position in a company with relative stability, you can’t escape the fact that industries are changing at a rapid pace. The knowledge that comes with your credentials when you enter the field won’t stay relevant for long. Even had I stayed in my initial field of education, there’s at least another degree’s worth of knowledge that I would have to have to remain competitive.

The first principle in Kevin Eikenberry’s foundational book, Remarkable Leadership is “Remarkable leaders continually learn.” Kevin wrote this 11 years before he and Wayne Turmel would publish The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Even then it was obvious that what leaders needed to know was changing and required leaders to adapt their knowledge along with it.

That’s also why Kevin and Wayne created the Remote Leadership Institute and established a credentialing program for those wanting show their credibility as long-distance leaders. The Remote Leadership Certificate Series provides the leadership and communication skills remote leaders need to be successful. Perhaps as important, the RLCS gives leaders a credential they can use to establish their credibility in the field.

So whether you’re a new graduate or shifting your career toward a path that will have you leading remote teams, you can benefit from earning your credential as a remote leader. Small group cohorts kick off quarterly with individual classes available throughout the year.

You don’t need a credential to be successful, but having one certainly makes the path straighter and less bumpy. If your path is taking you toward remote leadership, consider the Remote Leadership Certificate Series.

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