The way we connect, learn, and work has undergone a significant overhaul since the Coronavirus pandemic reached a global scale at the beginning of the year. As we approach the final weeks of 2020, let us reflect on the impact that this shift in operations has had and what lasting effects we may take into 2021 and beyond. Online learning has been one of the most discussed and debated issues to arise in the wake of this continual change. Though the focus has largely been on schools, it is worth investigating how we might approach the topic as it relates to online leadership development. Incorporating virtual leadership programs into your learning and development benefits not just the participants, but the whole organisation. Delivering this kind of training online, participants can take ownership of their own learning. Interesting though is the varied perceptions of what online learning is, and we should note that online learning may be self paced online learning, or a virtual classroom (which is an adapted version of face to face, for learning and development activities such as leadership development, which has best impact when delivered by an expert facilitator, live).
Advantages of Online Learning
Often, face-to-face training programs are run over the course of one or two days thus limiting the amount of time participants and facilitators must dig deeply into the material. When participants are given control over how and when they interact with their program means that they can take the time they need to truly immerse themselves in the learning. It also allows for the learning to take place around a potentially busy schedule rather than interrupting several days work on other commitments. This kind of self paced leadership training makes it possible to revisit topics of interest or misunderstanding as much as is needed.
Saves on Resources
Just as online leadership programs provide a flexible option for participants, they are also a flexible option for organisations. This is because online training can be delivered at a fraction of the strain on resources as classroom style programs. Several of the costs associated with face-to-face programs can be eliminated – space, time, and distance often being the biggest obstacles. The greatest benefit of this approach is that it may allow for more people to be offered the opportunity to participate as these added restrictions are no longer a factor. As a result, team members would not have to miss out on reaching their highest potential as leaders or developing vital skills.
Though virtual programs were popular prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus, the pandemic forced many who weren’t already using the available technology to adapt quite quickly or risk falling far behind. The globalisation of most industries means that in order to be forerunners in the field, you must be embracing of innovation. The switch to remote learning and operations is something that has been occurring more and more over the last decade, even for areas beyond compliance, such as leadership development programs, development of high performance teams, executive coaching and other leadership initiatives. What might have taken another few years to become ‘the norm’ happened rapidly over a few short months. By adopting the use of new technologies as early as possible, the more prepared your leaders (and organisation) can be for the future of learning and development.
Improved Virtual Communication & Collaboration
In addition to gaining the technical skills to keep up with new learning tools as they are developed, participants of online training programs also gain the advantage of discovering how to work with others in a virtual environment. This is an unquestionable advantage in the face of globalising industries. The far reaching access to online training allows participants to take part from anywhere in the world. This provides the opportunity to discuss ideas and network with people with a broader range of past experiences and perspectives, expanding your own cross-cultural understanding. Leaders have adjusted the way they manage teams because of remote settings, and how we coach and mentor in new ways that make staff feel that they are supported, albeit from a different physical location.
It was for these reasons above that The Leadership Sphere made the decision to move the extremely successful Dare to Lead Program from being an in person workshop to an online facilitator-led course. In doing this, we have been able to continue to provide this service in a way that allows leaders in different states and even countries to come together to share in their learning. In a global environment that is constantly shifting and evolving in new ways, we must prepare ourselves with the skills needed to evolve with it. By making the move to online learning for leadership development we can remove some of the obstacles that may hold us back and instead, allow ourselves the advantage of learning from those with whom we may not have otherwise had the opportunity.
For more information about The Leadership Sphere and how we can support your leaders with leadership development, executive coaching and high performance team programs please visit our website or call us on 1300 100 857.