Selecting the right executive leadership training is vital for an organization seeking to cultivate strong leadership capabilities. However, not all executive education programs are equal. To succeed, they must equip your senior executives with the necessary expertise and acumen to navigate new complexities and ever-evolving business challenges. The ideal leadership development program utilizes leading-edge research to drive innovation and develops transformational leaders that inspire their organizations.

In contrast, choosing the wrong executive leadership training can have adverse effects on your company beyond a poor return on your training budget. It can hamper leadership development, muddying clarity and creating ineffective decision-making. A failed training initiative may also result in missed opportunities for growth and profitability. So, making a well-informed choice is crucial to avoid damaging consequences.

This article offers insights into choosing the right executive leadership development programs to meet your senior leadership’s needs. It examines the key considerations and the best practices to ensure a successful executive development journey.

What to Consider in Executive Leadership Training


Training should not be approached as a checkmark to-do item. Training for the sake of training is futile and unproductive, and only measures whether participants completed the course. [1] None of this does anything to incentivize the participants to excel. To ensure a valuable and impactful experience, you need to know who to train and how to train for the best results.

Training initiatives without follow-up risk coaching your best people out of the organization, so you can see why executive leadership training requires careful consideration. Training seekers should also consider the credibility and expertise of the training provider as facilitators are diverse and offer expertise in different areas.

Reluctance to Executive Leadership Training

Executives avoid training for various reasons. Some see it as an unnecessary distraction from daily responsibilities. Others simply underestimate the significance of training or feel they already have adequate skills. Many have been burned by previous leadership development workshops that focus on low-level management skills they have already mastered and not innovative training that can help executives move the needle.

Concerns over cost, lack of immediate ROI, or ego-related factors prevent some executives from pursuing training. Yet, neglecting formal training has been shown to hinder growth, limit adaptability, and impede leadership effectiveness. But here’s the thing: great, impactful training exists; you just need to know how to recognize it.

Executive Leadership Training Is Non-Negotiable

In today’s highly competitive business environment, executive training is non-negotiable, and firms that don’t get invest risk falling behind. They will miss out on valuable content tailored to modern-day challenges and responsibilities of today’s executives. A lack of effective training may lead to a poor ROI due to lower productivity and wasted time and energy. Outmoded leadership skills, styles, and tactics also give forward-thinking competitors an edge.

Here’s a summary of the potential consequences of ignoring executive training:

  • Stagnant growth and improvement
  • Lack of adaptability to changing business environments
  • Outdated leadership styles and tactics
  • Missed opportunities for innovation and maintaining a competitive edge
  • Ineffective decision-making and strategic thinking
  • Limited skill development and professional leadership growth
  • Difficulty attracting and retaining top talent
  • Poor succession planning and weak leadership pipelines
  • Increased risk of leadership burnout and stress
  • Inability to drive organizational transformation

Effective training is about getting it right by knowing what and who to train.

Knowing What to Train Matters

Many detractors of executive training stem from past experiences of non-useful, skills-based programs. To avoid this, eschew generic courses and workshops that produce poor outcomes for senior leaders. These elementary education programs are focused on managerial and early- to mid-level leadership. Instead, think through your executive leaders’ specific needs and unique challenges. Pay special attention to offerings for transformational leadership programs and training.

Transformational leadership is an influential style suited for executives in today’s fast-evolving business landscape. It’s an approach that inspires and motivates individuals and teams to achieve their full potential. The best training providers tailor executive training to the style most suitable for your team. They create programs that enable your leaders to transform themselves, those they lead, company culture, and the organization holistically.

EWF: Revolutionizing Executive Education

EWF offers executive education workshops and programs aligned with the changing workplace landscape. Our workshops cater to the diverse needs of today’s executives and senior leaders. We provide a range of training options, from single workshops to comprehensive development programs. EWF addresses the unique challenges faced in today’s remote and uncertain environment.

Explore Our Transformative Executive Leadership Offerings Today

How to Prep for an Executive Training Program

Experienced training providers tailor programs based on your goals to:

  • Develop advanced skills in strategic decision-making
  • Foster innovation and adaptability        
  • Drive organizational change
  • Cultivate a vision for your organization’s future

The most successful training initiatives will align perfectly with the transformational nature of executive roles. They help your leaders prepare and empower people and organizations to bring out their best. To achieve this, training providers need an accurate overview of your leadership team’s needs and expectations.

Assess Your Organizational Needs and Skill Gaps

Start by analyzing the needs and skill gaps within your organization. Consider conducting a thorough analysis of current leadership skills and capabilities. One way to reveal areas for improvement is to solicit feedback from senior stakeholders. Employee reviews, data-driven assessments, and surveys are a great help for spotting specific aptitude gaps and leadership development opportunities.

Evaluate Potential Training Providers, Formats, and Programs


A training provider must check all your critical boxes to qualify. You want to examine the company’s experience, instructor qualifications, certifications, and curriculum. And, when possible, seek out reviews and request references to get first-hand feedback.

Other considerations are flexibility and the training formats offered. For example, check accessibility, in-person and online options, and opportunities for interaction and networking. Add anything else to the prerequisites as they pertain to your needs.

Internal vs. External Training

One of the first decisions you will encounter is choosing between internal and external training routes. Internal training is conducted using in-house resources. Human resources or training and development departments typically organize internal programs. 

External training is facilitated by an external training provider. These trainers may run programming on-location, off-site, or through virtual-only classes. External training providers manage and tailor executive education programs to meet your specific needs. Your best option depends on the capabilities of your internal staff, expected training outcomes, and convenience.

Internal and external training has its place, but comes with drawbacks as well. Below are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of executive leadership development.  

Internal Training Advantages

  • Customization: bespoke programs created to meet your specific organizational needs
  • Cost-effectiveness: eliminates external training expenses
  • Alignment with organizational goals and vision

Internal Training Disadvantages

  • Limited perspectives and lack of external industry insights
  • Resource constraints in terms of expertise and time
  • Potential for influence of internal biases and organizational politics
  • Lack of specialized expertise in training areas

External Training Advantages

  • Specialized expertise from experienced industry professionals
  • Exposure to the latest industry trends and diverse perspectives
  • Benchmarking opportunities against industry standards
  • Networking opportunities with peers and industry experts

External Training Disadvantages

  • Potentially higher costs, i.e., program fees, materials, and travel expenses
  • Limited customization (some providers) to specific organizational needs
  • Quality variability among different training providers

Tip: Choosing the best training provider depends on your industry, goals, and needs. But all the top executive training providers will have strong, well-established reputations. It pays to conduct thorough research and review their recent reviews and testimonials. Spending time on this will improve your chances of finding the perfect executive education provider.

In-Person vs. Virtual Training

Another big decision is choosing between in-person and virtual programming. The latter became an invaluable communication tool during the pandemic years. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s the best approach for your team. 

It might be, but you may also find in-person training is a better match for your needs.

In-Person Training Programs

In-person training allows attendees to interact face-to-face. Real-world communication is often faster, more productive, and imprints deeper in your trainees’ memory. The observation of non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, help improve the quality of teaching and learning. [2]

Virtual Training Programs


The pandemic may be over, but virtual communication platforms have not gone away. These web clients allow out-of-state and international executives to take part in training without the hassle of coordinating an in-person experience. Not having to travel makes online training programs more accessible and inclusive. Virtual training presents flexible scheduling, thus reducing potential logistical challenges. And technological advancements make it easier than ever to leverage virtual platforms and tools.

The program right for your company comes down to four considerations: accessibility, engagement preferences, technological capabilities, and training objectives. You may opt for a hybrid solution where part of the course is in-person and the other virtual to try and get the best of both worlds.

Consider Your Executive Leadership Training Frequency

Ongoing training may not be necessary if the purpose is to develop a specific skill or to offer a standalone one-off workshop. One-time lunch-and-learn courses are a popular choice, but even in these cases, reinforcement activities, progress check-ins, and extra training can help with implementation and retention.

Companies and their employees need to keep on beat with rapid societal and technological changes. Ongoing training ensures helps embrace innovation and foster inclusive, diverse environments. It equips your senior leaders with the up-to-date knowledge to navigate the complex challenges of a dynamic world. Continuous learning is vital for sustained growth, competitiveness, and effective executive leadership.

Peer Advisory Forums That Enhance Leadership Excellence

EWF’s turn-key executive peer advisory groups provide a platform for your senior leadership to enhance each other through collaboration. With professional facilitation, our programs embody the“steel sharpens steel” idea, fostering collective growth and development through shared experience.

Learn More about EWF’s Peer Advisory Groups

How to Make Executive Leadership Training Stick

Ongoing training doesn’t have to mean wall-to-wall programs, all offering something different. Spaced repetition and development is often a better approach to driving long-term results according to research. This well-established psychological learning technique supports effective memorization and practice to maintain and update skills. [3]

Here are three strategies to ensure your executive leadership training has lasting impact.

1. Tie Training Initiatives to KPIs

To ensure effective training, link training topics to relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Aligning the training outcomes with measurable KPIs helps reinforce a clear connection between the teaching and desired outcomes.

Examples of KPIs to measure may include:

  • Training completion rate
  • Implementation of knowledge and skills
  • Improvement in performance
  • Employee engagement
  • Cost-effectiveness of the program
  • Employee retention rates
  • Development of leadership skills
  • Succession planning

Setting key performance indicators is invaluable. They allow you to analyze performance accurately, integrate with reports, and hold participants accountable for transitioning their training to practical application.

2. Dangle Carrots (Rewards)

Everyone likes to be valued and appreciated, from emerging leaders to senior executives. Tailored “carrot” rewards are a great way to recognize and incentivize participants in leadership programs. 

Effective reward initiatives help motivate learners, reinforce desired behaviors, and promote a workplace culture where continuous learning and growth is recognized and rewarded. Carrots can also improve your company’s image, attracting top talent and retaining star performers.

Here are six examples of carrot reward ideas for your senior leadership training:

  1. Financial incentives (bonuses, merit salary increases upon successful completion)
  2. Career advancement (promotions, increased responsibilities)
  3. Recognition and awards (certificates, plaques, trophies)
  4. Additional professional development opportunities (coaching, workshops, conferences)
  5. Special privileges and perks
  6. Flexibility and work-life balance incentives

Customize the rewards to suit your company’s culture and what will be most appealing to your prospective trainees.

3. Wave the Stick (Consequences)

Carrot rewards motivate individuals to do well in training programs, but you may also need to introduce “stick” consequences for lack of effort or commitment. That doesn’t mean punishing those who try and fail. Instead, the stick acts to discourage leaders from withholding a sincere effort. These more harsh behavioral techniques may be necessary with obstinate trainees who are disengaged and closed off to participation in valuable executive education opportunities.

Here are four examples of potential stick consequences:

  1. Temporary loss of certain privileges
  2. Impact on performance evaluation (bonuses, promotions, career growth)
  3. Adjustments to development plans and leadership pipelines to redress gaps
  4. Limited access to selected resources

You don’t want to drive your talent away. Hence, leaders should engender to create sticks that are transparent, fair, and supportive. Aim to strike a balance between accountability and engagement.

In Conclusion

Effective executive training programs matter in 21st-century business. Done well, they empower your leaders to navigate challenges, drive innovation, and inspire teams. Choosing the right executive leadership training program is crucial for your organization leaders’ continued success. The wrong choice can lead to missed opportunities, stagnant growth, and poor decision-making, so always align training initiatives with individual and company needs.

Choose your style, internal or external facilitation. If you opt for an external provider, evaluate and select the most suitable format. Remember that ongoing training initiatives can also contribute to the increased and continuous success of your training initiatives. And lastly, consider motivating participants using carrot rewards and, when necessary, stick to consequences to ensure the training is taken seriously.

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