How Much Does Leadership Training Cost?

Developing a few good leaders can make all the difference in your company's growth and innovation. A variety of leaders can bring new ideas and energy to any organization and ensure that your company will be in good hands when today's corporate leaders retire. However, training and mentoring new leaders can be tricky and expensive. Additionally, researching all average training expenditures can be an overwhelming process. One good start is by offering leadership development to your key upcoming employees. But how much does leadership training cost? 

Not all leadership development is created equal, and the costs can vary dramatically depending on the format. Additionally, not all companies have a huge training budget to work with. Below are the main options when it comes to training your employees to be leaders. 

leadership training and coaching

One-on-One Leadership Training or Coaching 

One-on-one training or coaching is, arguably, the most effective type of leadership development. In-person, or online one-on-one training or coaching, provides opportunities to work closely with leaders from any level in the organization to help them learn what it takes for a leader to succeed. A personal coach or trainer can identify and work on the employee's strengths and weaknesses, tailoring the program to improve their leadership skills as they relate to that leader in the organization.  


You may be wondering how much does one-on-one leadership development cost? No matter your training budget, the cost for this training or coaching varies depending on the management level, format, hours invested, and scheduled time. However, hiring a trainer or qualified coach to work individually with your employees can be costly. For mid-level executive development, a personal leadership coach can cost between $250 and $350 per hour. For top executives, this cost can increase to around $500 per hour. Suppose the trainer or coach is not skilled in delivering this service through an online meeting format or is not local. In that case, your company may also be responsible for the trainer's travel expenses.  

Benefits of One-on-One Training or Coaching 

One of the benefits of one-on-one leadership development is that it creates an opportunity for participants to learn specific skills from their trainer or coach. The skills can be tailored to the unique issues the leaders being trained or coached face. Employees who have been through one-on-one leadership development experiences might feel more motivated to use the skills they have learned because they relate specifically to them. One-on-one training or coaching will also increase participant confidence in their leadership role because they will know what to expect and how to respond when facing various challenges. 

Drawbacks of One-on-One Training 

Unfortunately, there can be challenges with this type of leadership development. If the one-on-one meetings are conducted in-person large overhead costs due to travel expenses can be challenging. 

If the training or coaching is only in-person, your employees might have scheduling conflicts that prevent them from participating in other activities. In addition, if leaders hear one type of message from one-on-one development and learn skills aligned with it, they will become confused and even demoralized if the systems in the organization do not reinforce what was learned.     

In-House, HR-Sponsored Leadership Development 

An alternative to one-on-one training or coaching is to offer periodic, scheduled company-sponsored leadership training classes. This type of training is the best option if you have targeted populations with specific needs. For example, in-house classes on any topic can be customized based on your organization's culture or industry needs. And, because you control the content, the instructor, the training style, and who attends these sessions (and when), there are fewer surprises from the learning outcomes than from open enrollment courses. Publicly offered training that requires participants to sign up ahead of time is delivered based on the perspective of the training company rather than the needs of your leaders or organization.  

Leadership Development Training Drift Chat

Benefits of In-House Small Group Training 

One of the benefits of small in-house group HR-sponsored training is that it stimulates relationships and creates an opportunity for participants to learn from each other and the trainer. Another benefit is that situation analysis, small group problem-solving, and role play can emphasize the value of the skills being learned and align the skills to the real world in which the participants work. Similar to one-on-one, the skills can be tailored to the unique issues facing the leaders being trained. 

Drawbacks of Small Group Training 

Unfortunately, like with one-on-one live sessions, there can be challenges. Scheduling a group away from work can be a hardship for the organization. Overhead costs due to travel expenses can add significantly to the investment. And just like with one-on-one training or coaching, it is essential that the organization's systems and process reinforce what was learned to avoid confusion and potential anger at having their time wasted. 

Be Prepared for Varying Costs 

Some organization-specific leadership training programs can cost $2,000-$4,500 per day, and some may charge by the hour, like $250-400 per hour for a class of 15-20 people. You may also be responsible for the trainer's travel expenses if you partner with a training company. In addition to the basic costs of the training program, keep in mind that with company-sponsored classes, you'll also need to add in the cost of transportation for your employees to and from the class and possibly overtime if you have the classes during off-work hours. 

Ask About Our HR Sponsored Courses 

Our in-person small group leadership training courses are modularized by content and learning outcomes. From Communication Best Practices and Conflict Resolution to Developing Your Team and Making Meetings Work, along with How to Manage Different People Differently and How to Manage Your Time, our modules address issues challenging leaders at all levels.  

Our modules can be delivered as an intact curriculum over time or used individually to fill in gaps in your existing curriculum. Because they are created with a flexible design and development strategy, they are often customized to address organization-specific needs. Our trainers are skilled facilitators who bring the content alive by highly engaging learning and skill development activities and ensure that concepts and skills relate to the participants' real world.  

In addition to our in-person courses, each module is also offered in an online synchronous format. Using the full capabilities of an online learning platform, participants experience fully engaging learning. They speak up, work in small groups, share ideas, and feel almost like they are in an in-person session. The engagement is so powerful we are told they don't have time to multitask! 

Our in-person and synchronous learning costs are highly competitive for the learning experience. They include a wide variety of self-assessments, job aids, and coaching tips for the participants' managers to deploy to increase sustainability. 

Continuing Education Courses in Leadership at a Local College or University 

Another way of training your team members is to reimburse them for a leadership course they chose and attend themselves at a local college, university, or community college. Many universities and professional organizations offer external classes that range from half a day to nine months. In general, universities cater their higher-education classes to working professionals, offering afternoon, night, and weekend classes. Generally, this option is usually instructor-led training, as a grade must be issued at the end. 


Again, costs can vary for this type of training, depending on many factors such as the university itself, the length of the course, the type of course, etc. For example, Rice University offers an online Master of Arts program for $21,000 or 18 credit hours of graduate-level courses at $500 per credit hour. Meanwhile, the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that business undergraduate programs cost an average of $8400 annually (or $23k for four years). Similarly priced is the MBA Program at Northwestern University, which is about $66k over two years. (source) Prices for such classes run on average about $3,000 per person and require a sizeable time commitment from your team members. 

Important Considerations For University Leadership Training Classes 

One benefit of using this option is if you don't have the time, resources, or desire to host leadership development in-house, you can send your employee elsewhere. Also, in some cases, you don't have to pay for the class until the employee successfully completes it. However, Since the employee chooses the class, you lose control over the content and quality of the course, although it's advisable to set some guidelines for this. 

Before you sign up for an external program, estimate related costs such as travel, lodging, and meals for your team member. For example, the Northwestern MBA is based at its Evanston campus in Illinois. If you're traveling from halfway across the country (or the world), your plane ticket might cost more than the tuition. Similarly, factor this in when estimating related expenses if you have a tight training budget and can only afford to stay with friends or relatives when you travel for work purposes.  

cost of leadership training

Online Leadership Training 

Another type of highly effective leadership training is online self-paced leadership development. With the current technological advances, online leadership development training is an appealing option for many companies. Online training offers your leaders the ability to learn at their own pace in a timeframe that suits both the company and their busy lifestyles. Like the synchronous learning model, online leadership training also negates the need for costly and time-consuming travel. 

Benefits of Self-Paced Online Training 

This type of professional development provides consistency and makes choosing robust, actionable topics each month easy. For corporate training managers, online leadership training means fewer hours pulling leaders off the job and greater continuity in the knowledge base of current and future company leaders. 

Drawbacks of Self-Paced Online Training 

The biggest drawback in self-paced online learning is the potential that learners will multitask or not take the delivery seriously. Also, customization is available but can be costly. 


Online leadership training is cost-effective. Online training costs are lower than traditional classroom training; there are no travel costs, and you do not need to pay for substitute employees while others attend leadership workshops. With fewer expenses, you can provide more extensive leadership training at a fraction of the normal cost. Your employees will also appreciate this option as they do not have to take time away from work or family commitments to complete their courses at an institution off-site. 

A Better Leader's online leadership training is the top online program for companies looking to create superior leaders. At a reasonable monthly fee to train an unlimited number of leaders, A Better Leader modules offer the people skills today's companies need to reduce risk. From improved morale to better delegation, coaching to implicit bias, leaders get the skills they need to make your company an employer of choice. 

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About the Author Marcey Uday-Riley

Marcey Uday-Riley, MSW, CPT, is a senior consultant, speaker, facilitator, author, and coach, as well as a practice lead at IRI Consultants. Marcey helps organizations grow successful leaders and increase sales revenues through customer- and people-focused strategies.

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