to workers, the number one factor negatively affecting productivity is
poor management (Society for Human Resource Management, 2004). Another
study found that 72% of companies predict that they'll have an
increasing number of leadership vacancies over the next three to five
years. At the same time, 76% are "less than confident" in their
abilities to adequately staff these positions (Corporate Leadership
Is leadership important? You better believe it. Is leadership
development important? Your company's success depends upon it.
Over the past five years, the methodology to develop leaders has changed
significantly. There has been a steady shift toward "one-on-one"
training as evident in the increasing use of performance coaching and
e-learning. Both of these developmental approaches take people out of
the classroom and provide leaders with a personal development
Coaching allows each person to address his or her specific challenges
E-learning derives its power from its convenience and
If it hasn't happened yet, training may soon be coming to a computer
near you. However, before we examine e-learning, let's focus on what
makes traditional classroom training effective. We will then apply those
insights utilizing e-learning to make a difference.
Here's what we know about training:
Trainees need to see a
reason to develop new skills, therefore, position training from the
"What's in it for me?" perspective.
When the trainee's manager
is involved in the process, individuals are more likely to transfer
learning from the classroom to the workplace.
Learning is a process, not
an event. Training needs to be reinforced if application is to take
The concepts need to
relevant and immediately applicable.
The training needs to be
engaging and utilize a variety of methods to convey insights and
practice/experience new skills
We also know that training must be convenient. Leadership development
has gradually shifted from week-long retreats, to one or two-day seminars,
and now to e-learning. I do not believe that leadership development should
or will ever completely shift to e-learning, but a powerful leadership
development process can blend classroom learning with e-learning modules.
E-learning can supplement traditional training by reinforcing the skills
taught in the classroom. Alternatively, e-learning can be used to expose
leaders to concepts that they have not yet seen in a classroom. In this
case, leaders can meet with other leaders who have taken the course and
discuss insights and strategies for implementing new skills.
In terms of delivery, truly effective e-learning experiences should not
simply include PowerPoint slides placed on a server. E-learning should be
engaging and dynamic. Courses should include modeling videos that:
Bring real-world application
into the learning process
Show participants the right
and wrong way to exhibit the skill
strategies, techniques, and clearly defined skill points
Effective classroom training encourages participation. This holds true
for online learning as well. E-learning courses should allow the trainee to
interact with the course in a variety of ways, including:
Simulated practice of
real-world practice situations
Opportunities to reflect on
thoughts and applications
Quizzes with comparison to
Pre and post-tests to
Beyond the content and design of the e-learning course, organizations
must create a learning environment in which leaders buy-into the process and
work hard transferring learning from the training interaction to the job.
Companies must encourage employees to take courses for personal and
professional development. They may even wish to discuss online experiences
in team meetings and even use the company newsletter to highlight online
experiences and real-world application.
If e-learning is going to be effective, organizations must consider the same
items that make classroom training effective. Therefore:
The trainee's manager should
meet with the trainee after taking the course and discuss learning and
The e-learning course is one
component of a larger self-reinforcing process.
Individuals must see
immediate relevance and application of the skills taught in the course
Trainees must be motivated
to develop the skills and rewarded when they do.
The training needs to be
engaging and interactive, not simply watching a passive online
Leaders drive the success of your organization. By providing them with
the opportunity to learn - and supporting their learning endeavors, you will
set your organization on a path for success. And if you're asked, about your
confidence to adequately staff future leadership vacancies, you can revel in
your ability to staff those positions from within your own organization.
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