When training new managers and providing continuous learning and development (L&D) for leadership, it’s important to get it right. Your management team has a tremendous influence on the success or failure of the organization. Moreover, well-trained management can benefit employees down the line by scaling your learning as management transfers knowledge to their teams.

So, what is the best way to train your leaders? There are general challenges to consider, as well as considerations that may be specific to your organization. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits and drawbacks of in-person training — also known as instructor-led training (ILT) — and digital training methods, including video, digital resources and other forms of online training.

Knowing what to expect from both learning modalities can help you make an informed decision that can enhance your leadership training initiatives. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of ILT for leadership.

ILT: Benefits and Drawbacks for Leadership Training

Traditionally, new managers are given some form of in-person training to orient them to processes, procedures and other forms of internal knowledge they’ll need to be successful. These trainings may take place formally and informally, with a mixture of seminars and presentations, as well as coaching and mentorship. The benefits of in-person training for new management and professional development are fairly straightforward.


  • Opportunities for coaching and mentorship: Discussion and relationship building with instructors, coaches and mentors can enrich leaders’ understanding as they learn firsthand from other experienced leaders.
  • Practice and personalization: Learning in person provides opportunities for role-play and to ask questions.
  • Collaboration: New leaders often benefit from learning from one another and participating in activities that can help build relationships.


  • Hard to facilitate: It can be challenging for smaller to mid-sized organizations to find the budget to host a training event and find experienced trainers to facilitate an effective training.
  • Time consuming: If your managers need to hit the ground running, you might be looking for ways to reduce seat time and streamline your leadership training modules.
  • Lack of follow-up opportunities: A “one-and-done” approach can leave new managers feeling unprepared and overwhelmed, without any time to practice, and uncertain who to ask if they have follow-up questions.

Based on the benefits and drawbacks, in-person leadership training may work best for larger organizations with the resources to conduct training at scale. It could also be a good fit for a smaller or mid-sized organization with one-on-one coaching and mentorship and the time to develop to a strong culture of internal development and succession planning.

However, in a busier environment with fast turnaround times and flexible work models, it may be tempting to move part or all of your leadership training online. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of a variety of digital training options.

VILT: Benefits and Drawbacks for Leadership Training


  • Scalable: When you design and develop a digital leadership training program, the materials and resources can be reused and repurposed as needed.
  • Accessible: Moving a training course online means leaners can access training at any time, from any location. This enables learners to review content from online courses individually and access pre-recorded training videos on their own time.
  • Opportunities to create on-the-job resources: Training can also be developed for use as a job aid. Learning resources in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs), at-a-glance guides, downloadable PDFs, planners and bite-sized videos with process demonstrations can be valuable for learner retention and help refresh their memory when needed.


  • Less opportunities for collaboration: New managers and leaders working remote may have less opportunity to build relationships unless chat or live video is used. Even then, you may find less interaction and opportunities for informal connection-building.
  • Increased distractions: Without dedicated training time, your learners may have to train on the job, which can be a distraction with other competing demands. The drawback here is the potential for a lower retention rate due to decreased attention and engagement.
  • Less context: Learning in a digital environment can have fewer opportunities for learners to ask questions and benefit from sharing experiences with team members and coaches. As a result, learners may feel less prepared and unsure of who to ask for information after training ends.
  • Potential expense for technology: If you don’t have the technology in place, there will be the expense of the learning management system (LMS) or other improvements needed to conduct an effective digital training course.

Digital training is the most flexible of the two options and can be a great fit in a variety of ways for organizations of every size and industry.

The Bottom Line

Leadership training is an important part of a well thought out plan for employee training and development. In order to make the most of your training time, you’ll want to consider the best modes and options for use of your time and budget. You’ll also want to sidestep potential challenges. By considering the benefits and drawbacks of both in-person training and digital training, you can choose the option (or blend of the two) for your organization.