Virtual Leadership vs. In-person Training

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the way organizations conduct their business operations, including how they train and develop their leaders. After the development of remote work and the urgency for social distancing, virtual leadership training has become a popular alternative to traditional in-person one. However, some still question whether virtual leadership training is as effective as in-person one.

Even though the remote form of working and learning has been out for a while, many people are rather skeptical about it. It’s understandable in a way, as most of us are used to a traditional way where you see people in real life, ask questions, and try everything in practice. However, doing all of the mentioned above virtually is possible as well, and it may be even more convenient.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between virtual leadership training and in-person one and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

How Do Virtual and In-Person Training Differ?

Virtual Leadership Training

Virtual leadership training is a type of leadership development program that is conducted entirely online, using virtual platforms such as video conferencing, webinars, and e-learning modules. It’s designed to develop leadership skills and competencies in a virtual environment and can be accessed from anywhere, as long as the learner has an Internet connection.

Virtual leadership training programs may include modules on topics such as communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, decision-making, and strategic thinking, among others. It is typically interactive and may include group discussions, case studies, simulations, and other exercises designed to reinforce key concepts and skills.

In-Person Leadership Training

On the other hand, in-person leadership training is a type of leadership development program that is conducted in a physical setting, such as a classroom, conference room, or training center. It typically involves face-to-face interactions between learners and trainers and may include activities such as lectures, group discussions, case studies, simulations, and role-playing exercises. In-person leadership training is designed to provide learners with a more immersive learning experience, as they are able to engage with trainers and other learners in real time and can ask questions and receive immediate feedback.

Traditional training may also provide learners with opportunities to network and build relationships with other leaders, which can be valuable in the workplace. This type can be particularly effective for developing soft skills, such as communication, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence, as learners are constantly in an environment where they have to practice them.

Pros and Cons of Online Training

Online leadership training, also known as virtual leadership one, is gaining more and more popularity now. Let’s talk more about this phenomenon and how it can influence your working and learning processes. Below we want to present you with both benefits and drawbacks online leadership training can offer you.


  • Accessibility: Online leadership training programs are accessible from anywhere, as long as the learner has an Internet connection. This can make it easier for learners to fit clases into their busy schedules and can reduce the need for travel and time away from work. All you need to start learning is your laptop or phone and a spot where you’ll feel most comfortable;
  • Flexibility: Online programs are typically self-paced, which means that learners can complete the classes in their own rhythm and whenever it is convenient for them. This can be particularly helpful for learners who have competing demands on their time, such as family or work obligations. Also, if you’re located in another country with a different time zone, it gives you the opportunity to learn when it is more suitable for you;
  • Personalization: Such programs can be customized for each individual to suit all their needs and wishes. They can be tailored to their specific learning styles and preferences. This can help ensure that learners are engaged and motivated throughout the course. Maybe in some fields, you are less competent than others. So you can decide which aspects you would like to focus more on;
  • Cost-effective: Without any doubt, this factor is extremely important for most people. Investing in education is crucial, but no one would want to overpay when there’s a possibility of spending less money. Online leadership training programs are often less expensive than in-person courses, as they do not require travel or the rental of physical facilities.


  • Limited interaction: Online leadership training programs may not provide the same level of interaction and engagement as in-person training. Of course, it’s easier to communicate with people when you actually see them in person instead of just talking through a chat or video call. Learners may feel isolated and may not have the same opportunities for networking and relationship-building as they would in a physical setting;
  • Technology challenges: Online programs require learners to have access to reliable technology, which can be a challenge for some individuals. There are many technology-related issues that can disrupt the learning process and reduce the effectiveness of the courses, like malfunctioning devices or poor connection;
  • Distractions: Such programs can be susceptible to distractions, such as interruptions from family members, social media, or other online activities. Let’s be honest, it’s always harder to stay disciplined when you’re on your own and have to keep track of everything yourself. This can make it difficult for learners to stay focused and engaged in the training;
  • Lack of hands-on practice: Online programs may not provide the same level of hands-on practice as in-person courses, which can make it more difficult for learners to apply what they have learned to real-world situations. We can all agree that it’s much easier to take the information when you’re practically using it.

Overall, online leadership training can be an effective way to develop critical leadership competencies, particularly for learners who value flexibility and accessibility. However, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks and to carefully evaluate whether online training is the right fit for individual learners and their specific needs.

Pros and Cons of In-person Training

As we have already mentioned, online work and learning are at the peak of popularity today. However, there are still many people who prefer good old traditional in-person training, as they don’t have much trust in the effectiveness of remote learning. Some try to combine both methods. Let’s discuss how in-person training might be better or worse than virtual one.


  • Personal interaction: In-person training allows participants to interact with their trainers and peers in a more personal way, which can help build trust and foster a sense of community. For many people, personal communication plays a huge role in the working and learning processes, especially if the majority of their work is conducted in teams. Plus, some people may feel more comfortable when they can see you in person rather than on a screen;
  • Immediate feedback: In-person courses allow trainers to provide immediate feedback to participants, which can help them improve their skills more quickly. In virtual training, it’s practically impossible to achieve that, as all people learn at different times and you physically can’t stay in touch with everyone. For many people, receiving feedback right away and resolving the issues on the spot is crucial, as it’s way easier to find the solution by asking the instructor to help them;
  • Hands-on experience: In-person training often includes practical exercises and role-playing, giving participants hands-on experience that can help them apply what they learn in real-life situations. In general, when it comes to your work, the theory is never enough, as you always have to show your practical skills. Traditional training allows you to try things out in the process of learning;
  • Networking opportunities: In-person courses provide opportunities for participants to establish connections and communicate with other experts in their field, which can lead to new partnerships and collaborations. People tend to trust those who they meet in person more, so this type of training can definitely benefit you in this aspect;
  • More engaging: In-person training tends to be more engaging and interactive than online training, as participants can ask questions and engage in discussions in real-time. Plus, it gives more room for various activities based on teamwork, and you can encourage participants of the training to collaborate more to complete different tasks.


  • Time and cost: In-person courses can be time-consuming and costly, as participants may need to travel to attend sessions and spend time away from work or other commitments. As a person that organizes the training, you’ll have to deal with numerous concerns, including the location, rent, etc;
  • Limited access: In-person learning may not be accessible to everyone, especially those who live in remote areas or have mobility issues. Also, it’s not suitable for people who have to travel a lot or for the ones who have an irregular schedule;
  • Scheduling conflicts: In-person training may be difficult to schedule for busy professionals who have conflicting commitments or obligations. Plus, it’s almost impossible to choose the time that suits the needs of all the potential participants;
  • Lack of flexibility: In-person courses typically follow a set schedule and curriculum, which may not be suitable and comfortable for all participants, especially if they need to have any family issues they need to resolve, other jobs that they need to align with all the schedules or they live in another city or even country;
  • Health risks: In-person training may pose health risks during times of pandemics and outbreaks. This topic became super relevant in the last few years due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Gathering groups of people and getting them sick will definitely not benefit the learning process.

Overall, in-person leadership training can be a valuable investment for individuals and organizations, but it also has some limitations and potential drawbacks. It’s important to consider both the pros and cons before deciding whether in-person training is the best option for your needs.

Which One to Choose, Virtual or In-Person Training?

There is no definitive answer to whether virtual or in-person training is better, as each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the best option will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific goals of the training, the preferences of the participants, and the resources available.

  • Virtual training may be more convenient and accessible, allowing participants to attend from anywhere and at any time. It may also be less expensive and less pricey, as there is no need to travel or find accommodations. Additionally, virtual training can be just as effective as in-person training when it is designed and delivered properly;
  • On the other hand, in-person training may be more engaging and interactive, providing participants with hands-on experience, immediate feedback, and networking opportunities. In-person learning can also be more effective for certain types of training, such as team-building exercises and leadership development programs that require personal interaction.

Ultimately, the decision between virtual and in-person training will depend on a variety of factors, including the aim of this training, which format is more suitable for the participants, and the resources available. Organizations and individuals should carefully consider their needs and objectives when choosing a training format and may even choose to use a combination of both virtual and in-person training to achieve the best results.