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Leadership Training Programs

My Top 11 Leadership Courses and Development Programs to Take Your Results and Career to the Next Level (Recommended for Aspiring or Experienced Leaders)

Looking for the ultimate list of leadership training programs, courses and classes, both online and in-house?

If you’re new to management or are an experienced leader wanting to expand your skills, fill knowledge gaps, keep up with leadership trends and grow your income, this article has it all.

The training programs and courses I’ve outlined have been created and/or are being delivered by some of the best leadership trainers and experts from all walks of life.

Former executives, business owners and managers who figured out the top leadership strategies that get results and are now sharing their expertise.

Some are offered by top leadership training companies as well as highly renowned universities.

With research by Zippia revealing that:

  • Only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels, and

  • For every year a company delays leadership development, it costs 7% of their total annual sales.

…now is the best time to take control of your leadership role, either as an individual or as a company.

So whether you’re seeking leadership training for yourself, your managers or your organization, I’ll be listing various options, from short courses through to extensive leadership development training programs, from 11 to 1.

Val Ries, Leadership Expert

Val Ries

Leadership Expert


Before you jump in and sign up to one of the following leadership training courses, here’s how to assess the value of the courses I’ve outlined in this article…

6 Ways To Assess a Leadership Program’s Value BEFORE You Buy

Finding and signing up to a leadership course is only about 5% of the equation… the value comes from not starting a course, but getting the most from every module so that you retain the information and learnings.

And most importantly, following through to the end and completing the course in full.

Here are some considerations in deciding on the best leadership training and completing it in full…

1. Course Duration

Problem: Some leadership and management courses are too long or too short… and it’s hard to stay engaged when courses just ‘drag on’ or don’t give you enough.

Solution: You may find that the sweet spot for a complete leadership and management training is between 15-25 hours of lectures blended with self-study, partner sharing, workbooks, assessments and coaching.

2. Level Of Support Offered

Problem: Most leadership training online are “you’re on your own” type courses where you sign-up, sign-in and get started with the course by yourself.

The problem is we’re all human and we all get distracted with life responsibilities such as work, family life, socializing and a million other responsibilities and tasks

Solution: If you’d like to increase the probability that you’ll follow through and get the most out of the course, consider leadership development courses that offer the training with one-to-one support of some kind, whether it’s email support, group coaching, or 1-to-1 coaching

3, Time

Problem: Time is often the biggest reason many people don’t finish online leadership courses.

Busy work schedules and general life busyness often stops us from ‘getting back to’ that online course we fell in love with three months ago.

Solution: Either consider taking shorter courses with bite-sized lessons or take one that offers guided support so that you have set meet times either with other participants or with the leadership trainer themselves.

4, Accountability

Problem: If it’s just ourselves we’re accountable to, it’s too easy to justify why we didn’t follow through on that online leadership training, whether it’s a time excuse, lack of motivation or otherwise..

Solution: Consider having external accountability by having an intact team go through the training together. A partner, cohort or team to whom we are accountable to can make a big difference.

Whether we follow through to ‘not let them down’ or to have a sounding board... completing a program becomes easier when you have someone by your side to talk through key point, brainstorm or practice key learnings.

5, The Trainer/Instructor

Problem: Some leadership instructors don’t know how to keep their audience engaged. Their voice may be monotone or they “talk at” students leading to material being tuned out.

Solution: Sample a section of the course, find some YouTube videos, podcast interviews or social media examples of the instructor speaking to see if you resonate with their style.

6, Self-Motivation And Self-Discipline

Problem: Do you struggle with self-motivation and self-discipline at times? You’re not alone.

This is why it can be difficult to complete leadership and management courses online, especially if they’re longer than a few hours of content.

Solution: Internal motivation can be boosted by choosing a course-plus-coaching model.

A certified coach also offers guidance and customization of modules and material to your specific challenges, making it more relevant to you personally… which can significantly influence your motivation to continue.

Now that we’ve identified several deciding factors to consider, let’s now dive into my list of the top 11 leadership courses…

#11 Stanford Graduate School of Business: Be a Leader Who Matters

This executive leadership course is for senior leaders at all levels led by a renowned business school that helps you develop and evolve as a leader.

As far as senior leadership development programs go, it offers a unique approach to professional leadership while simultaneously promoting and supporting personal development.

Course Topics Include:

  • Leadership in Extraordinary Times

  • Accountability Creates Results

  • Metamorphic Experience

  • Holistic Diversity

  • Living Knowledge

Pros: There are in-person leadership trainings and hybrid course options and of course Stanford is a respected business school

Cons: The start date is just twice annually. Its $78,000 course fee may be out of reach or out of the question for many individuals and organizations.

#10 Anna Wintour: Creativity and Leadership

Anna Wintour delivers creative leadership training and shares insights into creative leadership for leaders wanting to learn how to keep your product/service relevant to your market.

Course Topics Include:

  • How to build and manage a team

  • How to give constructive feedback

  • Interviewing do's and don'ts to hire right

  • How to find your voice to stay authentic and unique to build your team or organization

  • How to work with mentors to get the most out of each relationship

  • How to lead with a clear vision

  • How to deal with criticism

  • How to make effective decisions

Pros: An affordable creative leadership course you can start immediately, pay a low monthly fee ($15 p/mth) and learn from an icon in fashion and leadership. This course is hosted by which gives you access to other masterclasses.

Cons: The fashion examples may lack relevance to your specific situation. No support or direct contact is offered with the trainer.


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#9. IMD Faculty: Transformational Leader

This transformational leader training program is a practical and interactive experience, where executives, managers, entrepreneurs and students in the public sector can uncover their own personal leadership strengths.

They will discover how they build and make effective connections with others through this transformational leadership course as well as how to resolve conflict and help followers to develop their own leadership potential.

Course Topics Include:

  • Exercises to build your "mindfulness muscle"

  • Discover and explore your personal authority, boundaries and purpose at a deeper level

  • Deep dive into the roles, scripts and routines you’re currently using and learn positive alternatives

  • Uncover new approaches to your leadership style in a unique way that other executive leadership courses fail to offer

  • Learn about the various dynamics of teams, groups and organizations and the challenges and opportunities they offer to your leadership.

  • Learn about your own patterns and behaviors within groups

  • Discover how situational leadership training can improve your ability to read people and intervene with effective dialogue

  • Inspire your team to self-transform through dialogue, planning and action

  • Find out about inner-transformation and put yourself in greater control over your destiny and that of your organization’s.

Pros: This unique leadership training and development course is highly recognized and helps take each leader through their own transformational journey.

Cons: The duration of this course is 55 hours of live virtual training with 25 hours of asynchronous learning. This time requirement may be too much for many leaders. The $17,083 program fee is a big commitment too.

#8. Oxford Home Study Center: Leadership & Management (Short Course)

This is a strategic leadership training for new and aspiring managers and helps you bridge the gap between hard skills and soft skills required for effective leadership.

For leadership soft skills training, this is a solid introductory course to leadership as well as a reminder for managers and leaders who would like to revisit foundational leadership qualities and skills.

Course topics include:

  • Leadership styles

  • Managing performance

  • Hiring right

  • Strategies to influence

Pros: Well it’s free for starters. It’s also led by academics and seasoned industry veterans and you can start immediately.

Cons: As far as leadership short course go, this may feel too basic for seasoned leaders. You may feel left-alone to your own devices with 20 hours of content to get through.

#7. Two-Day Advancement Management & Leadership

This advanced leadership training is a 'beyond the basics' course for existing managers and leaders to help you discover advanced strategies for real-world leadership.

Course topics include:

  • Strategic Thinking and Organizational Purpose

  • Decision-Making Skills

  • Manager as Change Agent

  • Developing Others

  • Creating High-Performing Teams

  • Adapting to Today’s Demands

Pros: The cost of $349 for this management development training makes it an affordable option. The multi option live training makes it flexible enough to start at any time.

Cons: Two days may feel like drinking from a firehose with no time to digest, practice or retain the information over time. It may also be too advanced and overwhelming for new managers.

#6. Northwestern University (via Organizational Leadership

In this organizational leadership training you’ll discover how to lead an organization using key strategies that create change.

Develop clarity of purpose and how to collaborate effectively through building, motivating and engaging team members.

It’s one of the few leadership training courses online where you can learn storytelling, consumer behavior and innovation in leadership.

Course topics include:

  • High Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork, and Negotiation

  • Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling

  • Leadership Through Social Influence

  • Leadership Through Marketing

  • Leadership Through Design Innovation

Pros: Northwestern is a credible university and provides leadership classes online to go at your own pace. The free option allows for easy access.

Cons: Free access is to view the course content only with an option to upgrade for additional resources. The 7 month duration may lead to low finish rate and implementation. In terms of leadership in training, there’s no coaching or live aspect to help you work through everyday challenges and as a result compliance may be low.

#5. American Management Association: Successfully Managing People

If you’re searching for leadership training programs for managers, this course is for managers and individuals whose success depends on managing people successfully through clear communication, a cooperative attitude and commitment to shared goals.

The best leadership courses should have training on how to motivate every member of your team—even if they don’t share your values.

Use positive and corrective feedback to turn problem employees around and maximize productivity

Course topics include:

  • The Experience of Being a Manager in Today’s Organization

  • Values, Ethical Leadership and Organizational Culture

  • Personal Styles: DiSC

  • Motivating Those You Manage

  • Communication Skills for Managers

  • Emotional Intelligence

Pros: You’ll get to practice your style using case studies and receive personal feedback from instructors and peers. You’ll also receive pre and post seminar assessments and additional resources to maximize your training goals.

Cons: This leadership skills course is delivered online over 2 days or 4 online lessons. Does not offer individual coaching to sustain development. Price may range ($2,200-$2,600) depending on membership level.


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#4. Franklin Covey: The 4 Essential Roles of Leadership

Before enrolling in one of the many leadership development classes a quick self-analysis can be useful to assess where you’re at and where you want to go.

Many leaders who are promoted to mid- to senior-level leadership roles often struggle to achieve the next level of results.

What worked for them as individual contributors will not work for them as they achieve results with and through others.

Getting started with the best leadership development program for where you’re at currently can help you align your position, your knowledge, experience and future goals.

After all, a simple, practical framework is what forms the basis of leadership success.

The best executive leadership programs are ones where experienced mid- to senior-level leaders receive hands-on work sessions that allow them to do real work and implement their ideas with their teams.

Course Topics Include:

  • Inspire trust

  • Create vision

  • Execute strategy

  • Coach potential

Pros: This is a strategic leadership course based on Covey’s principles. There are regular start dates that can be given live, virtual or on-demand. Pricing is approximately $2,500 depending on the option chosen and requires a pass to access.

Cons: Two day business leadership classes like this may be challenging to absorb and process everything all at once.

#3. The Center for Creative Leadership: The Effective Leader

As far as management development training courses, this is ideal for mid-level managers focused on becoming a more effective leader.

Discover top leadership traits and how you can internalize them to lead confidently and effectively.

Cultivate leadership and management development skills through learning how to influence your team and organization at a deep level to inspire action and follow through.

Course topics include:

  • Strategies for leading and collaborating virtually

  • How your personality and behaviors impact others

  • Ways to provide more effective feedback

  • How to use our Direction, Alignment, Commitment (DAC) leadership framework

  • Techniques to increase resiliency

Pros: Live leadership development workshops held online and led by an executive coach. This format allows for flexibility in Q&A and live coaching. $4,500 price includes two coaching sessions.

Cons: Self-paced options are not available because classes are with fixed schedules. 5 days (4 hours per day) may not leave enough room for retention, practice and processing time. Learning therefore may not be fully optimized after a few weeks.

#2. Dr. Shirley Davis (via LinkedIn Learning) : Inclusive Leadership

In terms of quick leadership training programs online, this is an easy option if you’re just getting started and would like to focus on inclusive leadership, diversity and equity.

In this basic leadership training you'll gain techniques and strategies on leading a team or organization that values and promotes diversity and inclusivity.

With this focused inclusive leadership training you'll learn how to leverage the talents of all team members for the good of the team and the organization.

Discover key benefits of inclusive leadership and how it can positively impact employee engagement, productivity, innovation and creativity.

Course topics include:

  • The business case for inclusive leadership

  • Redefining leadership through the lens of inclusion

  • Innovation, creativity, and inclusion

  • Six key traits that inclusive leaders possess

  • Competencies of inclusive leaders

  • Best practices for inclusive organizations

Pros: The low cost ($29.95) and 1 hour run time makes this virtual leadership training easy to start immediately and ensure you are leading from a place of inclusivity.

Cons: This is an important topic but not a complete leadership training for new managers. I recommend this as a compliment to any leadership course you choose.

Val Ries: Chief Inspiration Officer: Management Mastery Course

#1. Val Ries: Chief Inspiration Officer: Management Mastery Course

This leadership training program is ideal for managers and leaders who want to inspire themselves and others to reach their full potential.

It’s a comprehensive blueprint filled with applicable stories and examples on how to sustain team loyalty, engagement and productivity.

This executive management training course ensures you build a culture that thrives no matter the present day challenges.

It handholds you through the common challenges leaders face in a disarming and digestible way.

Many of my students have said it’s one of the best leadership courses online… (is it cheeky to agree with them because it’s my course? :))

I’ll let you decide…

Val Ries: Chief Inspiration Officer: Management Mastery Course

Core course topics include:

  • Foundational steps to becoming a Chief Inspiration Officer

  • Guiding your team to reach their full potential

  • Techniques to increase employee engagement

  • How to create a thriving microculture

  • Visionary leadership

  • Mastering the art of challenging conversations

Bonus Modules:

  • How to hire

  • When to fire

  • Meaningful meetings

  • How to talk to your boss

Pros: This business leadership training course is based on the #1 new release book; ‘Chief Inspiration Officer: How to Lead the Team Everyone Wants to Be On’.

Chief Inspiration Officer: How to Lead the Team Everyone Wants to Be On

It covers everyday topics in bite-sized lessons combined with live group coaching and individual coaching that can be taken at your own pace or using a hybrid group-coaching and individual coaching approach.

As far as leadership training courses for managers go, the course includes, quizzes, self-assessments and thought-provoking exercises to ensure your team’s learning is applicable and sticks.

This course also allows for flexibility depending on the amount of team members taking the course, and whether group and individual coaching is added.

Prices can range from $699 - $4,999/person depending on the amount of coaching.

You will also receive a Chief Inspiration Officer Management Mastery certificate of completion.

Cons: Does not include DEI, but most leadership courses don’t. The self-discovery exercises will challenge the leader to dig in and reflect on how they show up as a leader. This course is designed for only those teams ready for a deep level of transformation.


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What about leadership assessments as a course?

It’s beneficial to find business leadership courses online with one or more personality assessment or profiling methods.

Leadership assessments are fantastic instruments for assessing managerial abilities and you’ve no doubt encountered one or more on your employee or management journey.

Leaders can use leadership assessments to develop their skills, gain self-awareness, and understand their team’s and colleagues' communication styles better.

When it comes to manager or executive training and development, many companies use assessments as training tools themselves.

While assessments have many positives, relying on them solely for training leaves gaps in any leadership training curriculum.

**They should be a compliment to and not a substitute for well planned and delivered leadership training classes.**

Here is a list of the most common assessments. A great trainer and coach will be trained in at least 1 of these tools:

1. CliftonStrengths Assessment

This leadership assessment will assist you in identifying your natural talents as well as learning how to improve them and can be found in many executive development courses.

2. DISC assessments

DISC assessments form part of many leadership training workshops as it reveals innate communication styles..

It allows leaders to analyze themselves and how they face challenging circumstances, interact with people, and solve people and systems issues.

It’s one of the most popular assessments on the market.

3. Emergenetics

Emergenetics surveys business leaders to learn about their habits, mental processes, and preferences.

4. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence leadership training is perhaps one of the most overlooked but most important elements of leadership.

Emotional intelligence can help business leaders or supervisors manage their own emotions, support their staff through difficult situations, and accept c