There is a reason that leadership development is a $366 billion industry. The consequences of poor leadership can cost organizations millions of dollars each year. From frontline managers all the way up to the executive team, all leaders possess an important responsibility in inspiring, motivating, and coaching employees, which is even more important during times of change.
The need for exceptional leaders has arguably never been greater. In order to rise to the challenges, leaders today need new and improved knowledge, skills, and tools to manage complexity, change, and performance management. An ideal way to provide leadership development quickly but effectively is with online leadership training.
So, where do you start when building your online leadership training strategy? Before you jump into any leadership initiative, take the time to consider these four things.
Establish The Audience for Online Leadership Training
When it comes to online leadership training, one size does not fit all. Your senior leader’s training needs will be much different from those at more junior levels. Offering tailored programs for leaders helps you ensure the training content, methodology, and retention plan is optimally matched to its participants. You need to think through what training is needed for each level and plan accordingly. The typical audience groups for online leadership training may include first-time leaders, mid-level managers, supervisors, senior leaders, executives, and high-potential employees all of who have unique development needs.
Be Clear On The Skills To Be Developed
Online leadership training is used for a wide variety of purposes. Perhaps your organization has undergone a merger that resulted in a negative corporate culture. In this case, a culture transformation is scheduled to happen and will require leadership training to create leaders at all levels who can lead it successfully. This will require change management, communication, and coaching skills. In another scenario, your workforce has become increasingly remote. This change now requires leaders to lead differently than in the past, and as such requires leadership training on empowerment, collaboration, and accountability.
Whether you find yourself in these situations or not, the lesson is to carefully consider what has triggered the need for online leadership training. Once you understand why training needs to happen, you can narrow your focus on the skills that your leaders need to accomplish it. Common skills that online leadership training focuses on include:
- Leading change
- Team performance and collaboration
- Empowering employees
- Managing priorities and time management
- Communicating and listening
- Inclusive leadership
- Resolving conflict
- Leading remotely
Choose an Online Leadership Training Methodology
Passive, self-guided learning where participants listen, watch, or read information, may not be the best option when looking to develop leaders. A better option of online leadership learning is known as synchronous training, which “occurs when learners and instructors are interacting in real-time, typically through delivery platforms, remote labs, distance learning technologies such as video conferencing and chat, or collaboration and social learning technologies.”
Leadership skills are truly honed through practical application when interacting with the facilitator and their colleagues the collective learning increases in a way that cannot happen through passive, self-guided learning. In addition, the activities included in the online leadership curriculum need to be evaluated. Experiential learning is a highly effective methodology for developing leaders at all levels because it involves online immersive activities that mimic real-world challenges with a targeted debrief that connects the lessons learned with the reality of the workplace. It allows participants to learn by doing and not by just listening, reading, or watching. Because they have personally experienced the lessons, new leadership competencies are developed, more information is retained, and individuals are likely to return to work ready and enthusiastic to apply their new knowledge.
Find the Right Online Leadership Training Partner
Whether you are working to develop your first-time leaders or honing the skills of your top department leaders, working with an experienced partner can help you build an online leadership training and development program that addresses your organization’s unique learning needs and future goals.
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a partner is whether their capabilities align with your online leadership training goals (outlined in steps one through three). If a potential partner doesn’t have the right level of experience, has never operated in your field before, or strictly delivers passive learning that does not match your needs, it’s better to know before you make an investment.
Maximizing the success of online leadership training takes more than logging into a virtual classroom and hoping employees come out of training with the leadership skills they need. Rather it requires thorough preparation to consider who is being trained, what they need to be trained on, how they will be trained and then finding the right provider that meets all of your goals to maximize the impact of your online leadership training investment.