7 Leadership Training Trends Based on HRTech Industry Data, Analysis & Insights

Company culture, leadership personalities and the ease of automation have a remarkable impact on leadership training trends. In the era of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, HR leaders are expected to achieve more with less. And, it has emerged as a fact that business leaders who rely on AI have a better understanding of what works, and what doesn’t in leadership training programs. Without adequate training on AI and HR Technology applications, you may be able to define the culture of an organization, but it will become extremely challenging to sustain it if you fail to fill in with right talent and training to retain them. Company budgets for leadership training have sky-rocketed in the pandemic months, and by end of 2023, leadership training, powered by AI and virtual learning tools, would take a lion’s share of a company’s overall HR budget!

What Makes Modern Leadership Training Different?

Training initiatives post pandemic have greatly evolved across organizations as well as markets. In various economies, leaders have been reincarnated, while leadership succession plans have been stringently worked upon. Although shrinking training budgets have been observed, the cost of training for an individual in the market has gone up significantly. Let’s take a quick look at the cost of training individuals in the US in the given context. But, what have been some major observations across training markets?  A major observation remains to be, revision of training budgets being implemented largely across markets. (Exhibit I).

In 2021, 20% of manufacturing companies decreased their training budget, 37% increased their training budget and 43% kept their budgets the same. In 2021, 18% of Government/Military organizations decreased their training budgets, 29% increased their training budgets and 53% kept it the same. In 2021, 20% of services companies decreased their budget, 36% increased their budget and 44% stayed the same. In 2021, 18% of retail/wholesale companies decreased their budget, 41% increased their budget and 41% remained the same.
Training Budgets in Different Segments [Source: Learn Experts]
Besides, do you know that remote training has been a major thrust for many of the business corporations especially in the US? Initiatives related to remote training has increased to 31 percent from 19 percent during the FY 2021 – 22. However, surveys undertaken at different global corners reveal that, almost 56% of the global employees are willing to return to the classroom training framework, if an opportunity is given.

What have been some of the most desirable formats of online training delivery across the globe? Precisely, small and middle- sized business corporations in the US preferred to drive a hybrid training format, as observed by the experts. Blended learning is promoted where a course is delivered using a combination of methods including instructor-led classroom service, virtual classroom deliveries or training contents disbursed through webcast. Webcast is promoted, when an instructor delivers training from a remote location. In addition, simple online instructor led training modules have also been in vogue across markets. Observations made by the industry experts reflected that blended learning is being followed by almost 43% of companies during FY 2022 as compared to the 33% of business corporations during 2021.

Let’s take a close look at the blended classroom training techniques that has been followed by a majority of the business corporations, globally:

  • Virtual training delivery wherein 37 percent of training hours have been dedicated
  • Technology based online training deliveries wherein 34 percent of training hours have been dedicated
  • Instructor led training leading to 30 hours of engagement for an average training professional
  • Interestingly, it has been observed that blended learning is preferably used exclusively and mostly 15 percent of the respondents agreed to have been trained through such techniques.

Have the online training methodologies reduced the expenditures related to training? It has been found that large companies used to spend $1,678 per learner in 2020 compared to $1,433 in 2021. (Exhibit II). Authentic data available from medium sized companies reveal that these brands spend $581 per learner in 2020 compared to $924 in 2021 while small businesses spend $924 per learner in 2020 compared to $722 in 2021. Interviews given to media sources by reputed training professionals reveal that quality of service delivery is not dependent on training techniques either.

It is interesting to note that, the organizations’ in the US, moving towards a preferred virtual mode of delivery, post pandemic, has increased the overall expenditures. This is estimated to be around $92.3 billion in FY 2020-2021. Payments in favor of the training professionals had increased largely and it had skyrocketed to $68.7 billion in 2021, when compared to $42.4 billion in 2020.

Exhibit II

Per Capital Training Investments in Businesses: 2020 and 2021

In 2020, small companies spent $1,678 per learner, medium companies spent $581 per learner and large companies spent $924 per learner. In 2021, small companies spent $1,433 per learner, medium companies spent $924 per learner and large companies spent $722 per learner.
Source: Learn Experts


Leadership Training Trends: What are some of the major aspects?

Most organizations have adopted digitized channels to deliver training programs in virtual modes. Rather than empowering the participants, an increased focus is on adopting technology as technology tools have emerged as powerful interventions in the context of corporate training. Before we comprehend the intricacies of leadership training delivery mechanisms, let’s take a look at some of the popular leadership training techniques being followed in the given context.

Mobile / App-basd Learning in Corporate Training

Mobile Learning is a popular practice as the number of smartphone users is estimated to be 290.64 million by 2024, in the US alone. Podcasts and videos are being widely used for app-based learning in the USA as stated by the experts.

Exhibit III

Smartphone Users in US: 2024 Statistics as estimated

number of smartphone users in the US

Going through valid research data reveal these:

  • Mobile apps promote better user experience and provide 4.8 hours of complete engagement
  • 92.1% of users surf internet from mobile phones
  • The total number of global smartphone users are estimated to be 6.6 billion in 2022
  • M learning technology can facilitate the learning process through group discussions, peer-to-peer feedback as well as address various issues related to learning.

Reports from KPMG, a popular consulting firm headquartered in New York, acclaim  90% of business corporations in the US, presently use e-learning as a major training tool, when, compared to just 4% in 1995. A case study pertaining to IBM, reveals that online learning (Exhibit IV) happens to be more content focused within the stipulated cost.

Exhibit IV

Pattern of E-learning Usage by Functional Teams


Source: eStudent.org

Training with new communication methods

Post pandemic, it has been noticed that, across global markets, personalized training models have largely gained importance. At the same time, group coaching activities have never lost importance as relevance of imparting knowledge has been the key towards development of evolving training models. New communication methods have emerged as a majority of the business corporations have been emphasizing on the learning takeaways. Intervention of innovative communication   methods, on the other hand, reduce communication barriers within the defined framework. Going forward, it has been acknowledged, business corporations improve productivity on a large scale through leveraging better methods of communication. Various innovative modes of communication frame work include Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts and these have been preferred by a large number of organization teams. (Exhibit V).

Source: Lambden Duncan, “The Importance of Effective Workplace Communication – Statistics for 2022”,
Source: Lambden Duncan, “The Importance of Effective Workplace Communication – Statistics for 20222″

Gamification in Leadership Development Trainings

Inclusions of games or real-life simulations have been a common practice, in order to enhance learning outcomes within a leadership training session. In fact, North America probably is the largest market across the globe to have incorporated sophisticated gamification techniques in order to harness learning outcomes through business leadership trainings. Gamification remains to be the founding platform in understanding brands in NA’s market, especially in the B2B segment. (Exhibit VI)

key gamification trends
Source: “12 Gamification Trends for 2022/2023: Current Forecasts You Should Be Thinking About”

Options For Blended Training Opportunities

Blended training modules have been encouraged across markets, wherein ‘filled classroom modes’ are being practiced to enhance learning outcomes. It promotes the process of continuous learning as learners rotate on certain predefined schedules from a distant training station. Various learning models are promoted which include: (Exhibit VII).

Source: “How COVID-19 has changed the way we educate children
Source: “How COVID-19 has changed the way we educate children
  • Station Rotation Model: Training services are scheduled in different locations and learners are allowed to rotate themselves
  • Lab Rotation Model: A computer lab is dedicated towards the training being conducted
  • Individual Rotation Model: Promotes schedules based on the learner’s convenience.
  • Flipped Classroom Model: Deeper learning is promoted through on the job project deliveries
  • Flex Model: A supportive training technique, wherein the participants’ share the learning resources
  • A La Carte Model: A hybrid training delivery mechanism to fit the schedules of the trainees
  • Enriched Virtual Model: A blended framework of training, encouraging face to face interactions with the trainer.

On the other hand, benefits of blended learning include complete personalization of content along with promoting easy access to a number of learning modules at a time. Simultaneously, such techniques take into consideration an interactive pedagogy, besides creating a focus on the functional learning features. Blended learning techniques have been preferred across various income groups in order to bring in the desired business outcomes within the focused group.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for Soft Skills Training

Virtual Reality most commonly referred to as VR, can be used as the most preferred technique for leadership training interventions. Helping the leaders to simulate real life business scenarios meaningful VR setups have been deployed in the global business corporations in the recent past. One of the major advantages remains to be visual techniques which are carefully crafted to augment impact for the training in a given context. AR, on the other hand has been used by a majority of the business corporations, to augment impact within sales trainings.

VR AR Content Creation Market Statistics
Source: “Future of Virtual Reality – Market Trends and Challenges”

Reduction of cost in imparting such kind of training  have been a major business outcome, while AR & VR intervened training strategies have created high level of audience engagement. Incremental improvement has been observed across levels of organizational hierarchies, through AR and VR interventions. AR & VR interventions have high demand, in the training market, especially, post pandemic. As per data available through authentic sources, the market for AR & VR assisted content creation was expected to grow at rate of 48.8% globally between FY 2020 – 25. (Exhibit IX).

AR and VR Market will grow with 48.8 percent CAGR to 2025

In continuation with the above points, it is interesting to note that, AR & VR based strategies have largely penetrated within NA’s market as given below:

Exhibit X

Potential Market Growth of AR & VR in North America

Virtual Reality Use in America From arriscomposites.com
Source: “America’s Interest in Virtual & Augmented Reality”

AI and Predictive Analytics for Assessments

Taking instances of the global economies, post pandemic, a major change has been reflected. SMEs and large businesses have evolved and adapted largely, as Gartner an US based consulting firm has pointed out:

  • 50% of global enterprises have operationalized AI interventions when compared to 10% of organizations by 2020
  • AI has been understood to be a tool to drive infrastructure decisions, as computing requirements across markets have grown tenfold.
  • 10% of governments will use a synthetic population with realistic behavior patterns to train AI, while avoiding privacy and security concerns.

AI interventions have been used largely in order to simplify the business operation processes, as training inputs have been generated through audio, data, videos, and images about a person, a business entity, or an object for that matter of fact. On the other hand, data analytics have been used as intervening technologies, to train the managers to perform on shop floors, help them to reduce production downtime and manage waste, while in some major economies, data analytics have been used to harness efficiencies in manufacturing techniques.

Behavioral Nudging to Drive Leadership Development

Exhibit XII: Personalization of Content through IOB interventions

Source: “Internet of Behaviours
Source: “Internet of Behaviors

Failure to attain the perfect business outcomes, have encouraged behavioral nudging at the leadership levels. Research surveys published by authentic consulting firms, reveal that, around USD 3.4 billion is spent within the US economy per year to develop business leaders within organizations. It is understood that, 50 to 60% of the leaders fail to meet the learning outcomes as desired, although they are repetitively trained to perform. In consequence to the findings, investments related to IOB intervened trainings, have been much in vogue across global markets.


But, how are IOB based training programs being conducted?

Such trainings focus on capturing the digital footprints covered by us in daily lives. Do you know that by 2023, almost 40% of the global audience will be tracked through IOB technology interventions? Let’s look at some of the major training components to be covered through IOB training framework wherein behavioral nudging remains to be an interesting platform to start with

Behavioral Nudging within the organization framework aim towards:

  • Behavioral tendencies within defined workspaces and its’ corrections
  • Creating a conducive and participative work culture within the defined workspace
  • Sharing positive moments through storytelling can also be included
  • Fostering belongingness brings out the best in people and organizations

Major Challenges in Leadership Training

Although the given strategies seem to be well designed, even developed economies have faced challenges while fostering leadership training. The identified challenges as observed are

  • Absence of goal clarity across organizational hierarchies
  • Non-transferable skills defined towards business success
  • Lack of leveraging data analytics, to suit performance standards
  • Non deployment of meaningful resources within the organizational context
  • Improper strategic alignment of business goals

However, as per authentic data sources collected globally, 1 out of 4 managers reveal that, leadership training remains to be a critical tool while influencing challenging business outcomes.  On the whole, an effective leadership training metrics relate to:

  • Application of Theories intertwined with technology
  • Putting up real life scenarios within the classroom context
  • Work towards a perfect engagement of the participants
  • Reducing the discrepancies of customized learning outcomes in the context of business performance
  • leveraging cognitive, affective, and skill-based abilities of the concerned participants’
  • Managing overall growth.

Some insights can be meaningfully interpreted after going through various research reports.

  • As per meaningful surveys conducted, participants on the global front were found to have a 25% increase in learning post leadership training. On the contrary, 20% of the employees surveyed have improved in overall job performance post the training has been conducted.
  • Theories have been greatly popular, while applicable theories have been put into practice.
  • Almost 28% of the employees surveyed have acknowledged that an increase in leadership behaviors have been observed in workplaces after having been imparted leadership training. There has been an improvement in subordinate performance too!
  • Public sector managers have improved significantly in terms of business performance after leadership training has been imparted.


Investments pertaining to leadership training have been improved post pandemic as emerging leaders have been largely incubated within the performing organizations. Industry experts acknowledged that career progression has been a priority for the millennials and Gen Z population as evolving training models have started to create a positive impact.

On the other hand, technology   has been the key driver in assisting contemporary leaders to attain business outcomes as desired. However, leadership training must be organized with a focus to the bottom line to maximize business output as desired. Diversity in leadership training approaches designed within an inclusive framework can help create   meaningful moments of vulnerability to influence organization culture. Sharing positive outcomes within the team is important while leadership training should bring out the best within people as well as businesses concerned.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]