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With so many different leadership development programs out there, making a shortlist of the best can be tricky. You want to focus on enhancing decision-making, problem-solving, team management, and communication abilities for your leadership candidates—and now you need to find the right program for your company and team. In this post, I share my insights as an HR specialist researching many different leadership development tools for teams of all sizes and my picks of the best leadership development programs overall.

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Best Leadership Development Programs: Comparison Chart

This comparison chart summarizes basic details about each of my top leadership development program selections. You can view pricing details and the availability of free trials or demos side-by-side to help you find the best development courses for your budget and business needs.

Tools Price
Deel Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people
Qooper Pricing upon request
Paycor From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Inspire From $10/employee/month
Grow360 Pricing upon request
Emeritus Pricing varies per course
LEADx Pricing upon request Pricing upon request
LinkedIn Learning From $26.99/user/month Pricing upon request
Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Compare Software Specs Side by Side</h2>

Compare Software Specs Side by Side

Use our comparison chart to review and evaluate software specs side-by-side.

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How to Choose a Leadership Development Program

Leadership development programs can help you cultivate the skills of your existing staff to support their long-term growth and succession planning. To help you figure out which leadership development program best fits your needs, you need to document your specific challenges first.

As you work through your own unique selection process, keep the following points in mind:

  • What problem are you trying to solve - Start by identifying the challenges you're trying to overcome, whether that's identifying competencies that are lacking, developing upskilling programs, or improving managerial skills. This will help you clarify the topics and approach the leadership development program needs to provide.
  • Who will benefit from and manage the service - Consider who will manage the program relationship and become your main contact person in-house? Who will be responsible for enrolling your staff and monitoring their progress? Once that's clear, it's also useful to rank the needs of your different users to identify the key priorities for your HR professionals, course attendees, and others, to ensure they're all met.
  • What is your budget - To evaluate cost, estimate how many employees you anticipate enrolling in the leadership training course. Most programs offer different prices per course, so you'll have to do some estimating to project your anticipated costs.
  • What outcomes are important - Review the capabilities you want to gain or improve, and how you will measure success. For example, you may want to offer enhanced career development opportunities, develop more women leaders, or improve your staff's personal leadership skills. You could compare leadership programs until you’re blue in the face but if you aren’t thinking about the outcomes you want to achieve, you could waste a lot of valuable time.
  • How it would work within your organization - Consider how the program would work alongside your existing employee development program. Can your staff complete modules at their own pace, or are in-person sessions required? Any programs requiring in-person participation or sessions at dedicated times may present additional scheduling challenges.

Remember every business is different — don’t assume that a leadership development program will work for your organization just because it's popular.

Best Leadership Development Program Reviews

Here’s a brief description of each online leadership development platform to showcase each option’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give you a snapshot of their user interface.

Best for leader development with career progression frameworks

  • Free demo available
  • Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people
Visit Website
Rating: 4.8/5

Deel offers a talent development platform through its Engage suite, which integrates features for performance tracking, ongoing learning, and career progression. The software allows organizations to define clear career paths and competencies for leadership roles, ensuring that employees understand the expectations and requirements for advancement.

Using AI, Deel can quickly draft detailed career frameworks, including competencies and role definitions, saving significant time and effort compared to manual processes. Furthermore, the platform's advanced analytics and customizable performance reviews provide insights into an employee's strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, which can be used to tailor leadership programs and progression frameworks for individual success and monitor leadership development over time.

It also offers a learning management system with a drag-and-drop interface to help you build a comprehensive leadership program with interactive courses and assessments without needing significant technical expertise.

Best for executing high potential leadership programs through mentoring, learning and inclusion

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request

Qooper is a mentoring, coaching, and learning platform for employees that can be used to create and facilitate leadership development programs. Organizations can use the software to develop customized development plans for individual employees or groups of staff. Learning paths created with the software can include articles, videos, podcasts, and assessments. It can facilitate various functions like training, employee onboarding, matching mentors and mentees, goal setting, and tracking progress.

Social learning features allow groups of employees to collaborate and learn from each other through discussions and peer-to-peer coaching. The software uses an algorithm to pair up mentors and mentees based on things like their job function, interests, and career goals. Once matched, groups or pairs can use the platform's messaging, group chats, and video conferencing features to facilitate their coaching.

A free demo is available, and pricing is available upon request.

Best for comprehensive leadership training and development programs

  • 90-day free trial + free demo available
  • From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Visit Website
Rating: 4.1/5

Paycor is a comprehensive SaaS product that offers a wide range of services, including HR, payroll, and recruiting. But what really caught my eye about Paycor is its Leadership Development Program.

I picked Paycor because leadership training requires time, effort, and a lot of patience and Paycor's Leadership Development Program offers a structured approach to this process. The program is focused on three core principles — coaching employees, optimizing employee performance, and retaining top talent — and includes a variety of tools designed to help future leaders grow.

There's a 360-degree feedback tool that allows for comprehensive evaluation, a goal-setting feature that helps leaders stay on track, and a succession planning tool that ensures a smooth transition when it's time for a new leader to step up. It also offers personalized development plans. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, it's about recognizing the unique potential in each individual and helping them grow in a way that suits them best.

Integrations include HireTech, Emburse Certify, Zillion, Points North, FMLA, Tapcheck, Instant Pay, Sterling, Wageworks, Ignite, and other digital workforce tools.

Businesses can choose from various pricing plans based on the number of employees and the level of service required.

Best for an integrated suite of talent apps

  • Free demo + free trial available
  • From $10/employee/month
Visit Website
Rating: 4.7/5

Inspire Software is an agile platform offering a range of tools to enhance management. It uses leadership methodology to assess employee performance across the board. Features include goal setting, benchmarking, performance assessments, and self-review.

The software is designed to build strong future leaders using modern management theory and applied learning. Organizations can learn, apply, and analyze leadership behaviors, and develop next-generation business leaders through planned development.

Social recognition features can be used to acknowledge the progress of team members. Employees may reflect on their leadership development through pulse surveys, as well as adding comments and feedback.

Best for leadership development using Microsoft Teams

  • Pricing upon request

Grow360 offers leadership development solutions to help executives achieve higher performance and improve retention. The company's 7A methodology is designed to improve team dynamics and employee engagement. Team members are empowered to create self-awareness and define development objectives.

Grow360 integrates with Microsoft Teams to access all services directly within the Teams environment. Each team member is allocated a 'My Grow Space' in Teams. This allows employees to work on improving their leadership skills within their everyday business environment.

Grow360 offers customized pricing on request.

Best for executive education and teaching the skills of the future

  • Pricing varies per course

Emeritus is committed to teaching the skills of the future by making high-quality education accessible and affordable to individuals, companies, and governments around the world. It does this by collaborating with more than 50 top-tier universities across the United States, Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, India and China.

Emeritus’ short courses, degree programs, professional certificates, and senior executive programs help individuals learn new skills and transform their lives, companies and organizations. Its unique model of state-of-the-art technology, curriculum innovation, and hands-on instruction from senior faculty, mentors and coaches has educated more than 250,000 individuals across 80 countries.

Founded in 2015, Emeritus, part of the Eruditus Group, has more than 2300+ team members globally and offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Shanghai, Singapore, Palo Alto, Mexico City, New York, Boston, London, and Dubai.

Visit Emeritus' website for pricing details on their individual courses.

Best for coaching and micro-learning

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request

LEADx designed their learning & development platform to solve two common challenges: people are too busy to take training courses, and even when they do, they often don’t remember or apply their learnings. To tackle these challenges, LEADx designed a program for executives that includes 200+ micro-learning lessons specifically developed for learners with busy schedules and short attention spans.

Their courses are mobile-accessible, which helps busy executives complete micro-tasks and micro-actions from anywhere. Tasks are typically 10 to 15 minutes long, making them easier to fit into your day, with automated nudges and reminders to keep learning on track. All learners also gain access to their certified leadership coaching team (that operates under the name “Coach Amanda”) allowing them to ask questions about anything, at any time.

LEADx offers customized pricing upon request, as well as a free demo.

Best for proven leadership development principles

  • Pricing upon request

Franklin Covey delivers leadership, individual effectiveness, and business execution training. The education is fundamentally based on the writings of Benjamin Franklin and Steven Covey. The business has grown to offer a wide range of leadership training programs.

The training portfolio includes management training based on 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,' plus courses on the essential leadership roles and a wealth of leadership and development training. Senior executives can use these to develop a forward-thinking leadership style and become better time managers.

Korn Ferry offers customized pricing on request. There is no free trial.

Best for an on-demand leadership training library

  • Free one-month trial
  • From $26.99/user/month

LinkedIn Learning provides on-demand video training on a wide range of business, creative, and technology topics. Users benefit from a learning experience with personalized course and module recommendations, designed to help them achieve their full potential. These are based on data-driven insights from the millions of professionals who use the LinkedIn network.

With over 13,000 high-quality courses in its library, LinkedIn Learning offers a wealth of leadership development training. The on-demand system means learners can watch courses and webinars whenever convenient, using desktop or mobile devices. All courses are taught by experts with real-world experience.

LinkedIn Learning costs from $26.99/user/month, and a free one-month trial is available.

Best for lab-based, research-driven insights

  • Pricing upon request

LifeLabsLearning researches the leadership skills that make the biggest impact in the shortest time. These are then shared with managers and teams to stimulate faster growth and development.

The company is founded on the principle of turning the workplace into a practice lab for mastering core skills. Using the resulting insights and rankings, executives can quickly improve performance and engagement. They will learn to handle tough conversations with confidence and resolve issues faster. Other goals include fostering a culture of inclusion, problem solving, sparking innovation, and reducing burnout.

LifeLearningLabs offers customized pricing on request. There is no free trial.

Other Professional Development Programs

Here are several other leadership development courses that looked interesting, but didn’t quite make it into my top 10 shortlist:

If you're looking for better HR tools in addition to services, check out these other core HR offerings, that we've tested and evaluated:

Selection Criteria for Leadership Development Programs

Leadership development programs cover a range of services designed to enhance various aspects of leadership, from strategic thinking to emotional intelligence. My approach to choosing the best programs for this list is grounded in thorough research coupled with my understanding of the needs and objectives of those seeking to elevate their leadership capabilities.

Here's a summary of the criteria I used to make my final selections for this list:

Core Leadership Development Program Capabilities (25% of total score): To be considered for inclusion in this list, each program had to fulfill these common needs first:

  • Develop skills to enhance strategic decision-making abilities
  • Improve team leadership and management skills
  • Develop high emotional intelligence for better interpersonal relationships
  • Foster innovative thinking and problem-solving capabilities
  • Help build a strong personal leadership brand and presence

Additional Standout Services (25% of total score): To help me select the best leadership programs out of the numerous options available, I also took note of any less common capabilities, including:

  • Advanced digital platforms offering AI-driven personalized learning experiences
  • Unique mentorship programs that pair emerging leaders with veterans in their specific industry
  • Specialized workshops focused on leading in a digital transformation era
  • Exclusive networking events with thought leaders and innovators across various sectors
  • Innovative feedback tools utilizing AI for real-time, personalized development insights

Industry Experience (10% of total score): To evaluate the industry experience of each management program, I considered the following:

  • A history of successful leadership development engagements, with a preference for those in operation for over a decade
  • Credentials of staff, including advanced degrees in organizational psychology, leadership coaching certifications, and a track record of published research in the field

Onboarding (10% of total score): To get a sense of each provider's onboarding process, I considered the following factors:

  • Availability of comprehensive onboarding materials, such as training videos and detailed guides
  • Hands-on service tours to familiarize new clients with all features and services
  • Access to webinars and live sessions to ensure smooth integration into the program
  • A dedicated account manager or contact person for immediate assistance

Customer Support (10% of total score): To evaluate the level of customer support each training provider offered, I considered the following:

  • 24/7 access to customer support through various channels, including live chat, email, and phone
  • Dedicated account managers for personalized support throughout the program duration
  • Responsive technical support for issues related to the digital learning platform

Value for Price (10% of total score): To gauge the overall value of program, I considered the following factors:

  • Transparent pricing models or costs per course
  • Flexible pricing options to accommodate different budgets, including subscription-based models or a pay-per-course model
  • Evidence of tangible ROI from past participants, such as improved leadership effectiveness and team performance metrics

Customer Reviews (10% of final score): Evaluating customer reviews is the final element of my selection process, which helps me understand how happy real users are with a service. Here are the factors I considered:

  • Positive feedback related to program content quality, mentorship effectiveness, and the impact courses had on leadership development
  • Testimonials from former participants highlighting specific skillsets and qualities they developed through the program
  • Positive comments on the ease of use of digital platforms and the applicability of learned skills in real-world scenarios

Using this assessment framework helped me identify the leadership development programs that go beyond basic requirements to offer additional value through unique services, deep industry experience, smooth onboarding, effective support, and overall value for price.

As leadership development programs continue to evolve, the technology used to host these programs have evolved in tandem, incorporating modern elements such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). These technological advancements are coupled with a shift in the skills and qualities that are required to be an effective leader in today's dynamic work environment.

Here are several trends that are impacting the design and implementation of leadership development programs as of 2024:

  • Integration of AI and ML: AI and ML technologies are increasingly being integrated into leadership development programs to personalize learning experiences and provide data-driven insights into leadership styles and effectiveness. This trend reflects the growing demand for customized learning paths that adapt to individual leaders' strengths and areas for improvement.
  • VR and AR for Immersive Learning: The use of VR and AR technologies for creating immersive learning experiences is on the rise. These tools offer realistic simulations and scenarios, allowing leaders to practice their skills in a safe, controlled environment. This innovative approach caters to the need for practical, hands-on experience in leadership training.
  • Microlearning Platforms: The adoption of microlearning platforms that offer short, focused learning sessions is growing. This trend caters to busy professionals seeking to develop leadership skills without committing to long-duration courses, addressing the challenge of fitting leadership development into hectic schedules.
  • Focus on Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence: There's a noticeable shift towards emphasizing soft skills and emotional intelligence in leadership development. Many programs have incorporated modules on empathy, communication, and emotional regulation to help leaders navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and foster more inclusive work environments.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Leadership: Programs focusing on sustainability and ethical leadership principles are gaining traction. This reflects the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility and the demand for leaders who can drive sustainable business practices.

As you continue your search for the best leadership program for your needs, keep an eye out for these trends.

What are Leadership Development Programs?

Leadership development programs are structured training and educational initiatives designed to enhance leadership skills and abilities. They focus on developing competencies like decision-making, strategic thinking, team management, and effective communication. These programs are aimed at preparing individuals to take on leadership roles, guiding teams, and contributing to organizational success. They often include workshops, mentoring, and practical experiences to build strong leaders.

Features of Leadership Development Programs

Although every leadership development platform is different, here are some services, features, and capabilities that leadership training courses typically cover:

  • Digital Learning Platforms: These platforms offer the convenience of learning at one's own pace, enabling leaders to integrate development activities into their busy schedules.
  • Customized Learning Paths: Customized learning paths ensure that leaders receive the specific training they need to fill their unique skill gaps, while also achieving organizational goals. This makes the development process more efficient and effective in addressing individual and organizational gaps.
  • Leadership Simulations: These are scenario-based learning experiences that mimic real-world challenges. Simulations offer a safe space to experiment with different strategies and learn from mistakes without real-world consequences.
  • Interactive Workshops: These are hands-on sessions that encourage active participation and collaboration. These workshops facilitate peer learning and help leaders develop practical skills in a supportive, engaging environment.
  • Mentorship and Coaching: Mentorship and coaching provide personalized feedback and actionable insights, allowing emerging leaders to refine their leadership style and approach based on real-world wisdom. (If mentoring is your main area of interest, take a look at our list of the best mentoring software as well.)
  • Leadership Assessments: This refers to tools and evaluations to identify strengths and areas for improvement. By clearly understanding their starting point, leaders can track their progress and make informed decisions about their development journey.
  • Strategic Thinking Training: Many leadership programs are heavily focused on developing foresight, innovation, and strategic planning skills. Strategic thinking training helps leaders navigate complex business landscapes and drive their organizations forward with vision and purpose.
  • Emotional Intelligence Development: This refers to sessions aimed at improving self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management. Emotional intelligence is key to leading with compassion, understanding team dynamics, and motivating others effectively.
  • Networking Opportunities: Networking is crucial for developing potential leaders. It creates opportunities for peers to share best practices, form strategic alliances, and gain new perspectives on leadership challenges.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Most systems offer tools to collect ongoing feedback and measure program effectiveness. Continuous feedback ensures that leaders are aware of their progress and can adjust their learning path as needed.

Leadership development programs with these services and capabilities equip individuals with the tools they need to lead with confidence, make strategic decisions, and inspire those around them. By focusing on personalized learning experiences, practical skill development, and continuous improvement, these programs pave the way for the emergence of strong, effective leaders who are ready to tackle future challenges.

Benefits of Leadership Development Programs

Leadership development programs are designed to help organizations prepare their existing staff for potential leadership positions in the future. These programs not only benefit the participants themselves but also significantly impact the overall performance of the organization.

Here are several benefits you can expect to gain by signing up for the best leadership development program to help your staff reach their full potential:

  • Enhanced Leadership Skills: Participants learn to make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and manage teams more efficiently, leading to improved team performance and goal achievement.
  • Increased Employee Engagement: Leaders who undergo development programs are better equipped to inspire their teams, foster a positive work environment, and effectively address any engagement issues, resulting in higher employee satisfaction and retention rates.
  • Improved Succession Planning: Leadership development programs prepare high-potential employees for senior roles, ensuring the organization has a continuous supply of skilled leaders ready to fill critical positions as they become available.
  • Enhanced Organizational Culture: Through leadership development, leaders learn to embody and promote the company's values and vision, leading to a more engaged and unified workforce that shares common goals and values.
  • Better Adaptability to Change: Leaders equipped with the skills and knowledge from these programs can better navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment, ensuring the organization remains competitive and can capitalize on new opportunities.

Leadership development programs offer a transformative opportunity for both individuals and organizations, driving significant improvements in leadership effectiveness, team dynamics, and organizational performance. By investing in the growth of your future leaders, you'll enhance your immediate operational effectiveness, improve your employee retention, and set your organization up for long-term success.

Costs & Pricing for Leadership Development Programs

Leadership development programs vary widely in their approach to pricing, reflecting the diversity of formats, content, and delivery methods available in the market. The structure of the pricing models often depends on the type of program, its duration, the level of customization, and the mode of delivery (e.g., in-person, online, or hybrid).

Here are some common pricing structures you might encounter:

  • Per-Course Fee: This payment structure is common with modular programs or those offering a series of distinct courses. This approach allows individuals and organizations to sign up for training that fulfills specific needs and budgets.
  • Per-Participant Fee: Many programs charge a fee based on the number of individuals participating. This model is common in open enrollment programs where individuals from different organizations attend. The fee can vary depending on the program's reputation, duration, and the included resources.
  • Flat Rate for Group Programs: For organizations looking to train a cohort of leaders or managers, leadership development providers may offer a flat rate for the group. This cost-effective model supports more program customizations to fit an organization's specific needs.
  • Subscription-Based Models: Some leadership development programs, especially those offered online, operate on a subscription basis, granting access to a range of courses and resources for a monthly or annual fee. This model provides flexibility and ongoing development opportunities for participants.
  • Tiered Pricing Models: Some programs offer tiered pricing based on the level of access, support, or customization desired. For instance, a basic package might include access to online materials and webinars, while premium tiers could offer personalized coaching, assessments, and in-person retreats.
  • Customized Pricing: For highly customized leadership development initiatives designed for a particular organization, providers often create a tailored pricing model. This model considers the scope of the program, the level of personalization, the number of participants, and any specific outcomes the organization aims to achieve.

When considering a leadership development program, it's crucial for organizations to carefully review the pricing structure, understand what is included in the cost, and assess the program's potential return on investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re looking for more information about leadership development programs, check out these answers to common questions.

How do you measure the ROI of a leadership development program?

Measuring the ROI of a leadership development program involves a blend of qualitative and quantitative methods. Start by setting clear objectives aligned with your business goals, like improving team performance or increasing employee engagement. Then, you can use pre-and post-program assessments to measure skills improvements and behavioral changes. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:

  • Retention rates
  • Promotion rates within program participants
  • And any direct impact on revenue or cost savings

You can also gather feedback from participants and their direct reports to assess changes in leadership effectiveness. Combining these data points will provide a comprehensive view of the program’s impact and its ROI.

How can companies foster a culture that supports leadership development?

Companies can nurture a culture supportive of leadership development by embedding growth opportunities into every role and encouraging mentorship and coaching throughout the organization. Promoting a feedback-rich environment, where constructive feedback is freely given and received, also plays a crucial role.

Recognizing and rewarding leadership behaviors, not just results, can also motivate employees to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. Finally, creating pathways for advancement and making leadership development resources accessible to all employees helps foster an inclusive culture where everyone feels empowered to grow their leadership capabilities.

How can managers identify potential leaders within their teams?

Managers can spot potential leaders by observing employees who naturally take initiative and handle responsibilities beyond their job descriptions. Look for those who demonstrate capacities like:

  • Strong communication skills
  • The ability to solve problems creatively
  • A knack for motivating others
  • Good time management and prioritization
  • Conflict resolution and the capacity to be objective

You might also consider employees who seek feedback for self-improvement and are comfortable with change. These traits suggest a readiness for leadership roles and the ability to navigate the challenges they entail. Essentially, it’s about identifying those who already exhibit leadership qualities, even in non-leadership positions.

More Resources for Emerging Leaders

If you found this list helpful, you may also want to check out our articles on resonant leadership and leading with empathy.

We also have numerous other resources to help you with leadership coaching. Here are a few of my favorites:

For even more resources on leadership, check this list out: 14 Leadership Books For New Leaders To Read

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Kim Behnke
By Kim Behnke

Kim Behnke is an HR Tool Expert & Writer for People Managing People. She draws on her 9 years of human resources experience and her keen eye for systematic processes to support her analyses of the top HR tools on the market. She is passionate about maximizing efficiencies and streamlining workflows to ensure internal systems run smoothly. Kim's HR experience includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and development, policy development and enforcement, and HR analytics. She also has degrees in psychology, writing, publishing, and technical communication, and recently completed a Certified Digital HR Specialist program through the Academy to Innovate HR. When away from her desk, she can usually be found outside tending to her ever-expanding garden.