The Pros and Cons of Internal vs External Leadership Development Programs

  • You know you want to create a leadership development program for your organization. Now you need to decide if you should take on that development work internally or utilize the expertise of an external consultant or program. Below, we will discuss a few factors to consider to help you make the best choice for your organization.


  • First, consider size, both in what you want to accomplish and who you can accomplish it with. If you are a “training team of one” with a large scope, you may not have the bandwidth to tackle a project of this size. However, if you have an established and sizable talent development team, this can be a great opportunity to tap into the expertise of multiple individuals to build a program.  
  • Additionally, consider how many individuals you would like to develop through this program. Are you rolling this out organization-wide or starting with a small group? Knowing the total number of learners you hope to connect with can provide some valuable data as you consider additional factors.


  • How quickly do you need your learners to complete your training? If you need to train a large number of individuals quickly, it may be best to do this work internally provided that you have a team large enough to support that endeavor (or bring in external partners to assist in this process). If you have a smaller group of intended learners or can pace this development over time, utilizing an external partner or program can allow individuals the flexibility to learn as their calendars allow.


  • Consider what competencies you are hoping to strengthen with a leadership development program. Do you or others on your team possess the subject matter expertise to train in these areas? Are these skills aligned with the current needs and future projections for what your leaders will need? Can these competencies be fulfilled by a hybrid approach, where you can tap into internal expertise while partnering with outside resources for additional needs?
  • You may find that your answers to these questions about size, timing and competencies fall in a combination of internal and external needs. Perhaps you have an influx of leaders to onboard in the near term followed by the need for a sustainability model for future leaders. This type of scenario provides a unique opportunity to partner with an external vendor that can seamlessly align with your needs and make training provided outside of your organization feel like an extension of your brand.

We believe leadership matters

FOCUS Training is an interactive leadership development company that has been helping people achieve excellence through understanding and action since 1992.

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Milwaukee, WI 53204