As training professionals, we are seeing increasing pressure to offer online training options to support our organizations’ and clients’ need for flexibility and to provide cost-effective solutions. We know from recent research that several factors are required to deliver effective leadership education:  A recent McKinsey article references four key themes:

  1. Focus on behaviors that really matter, based on context (behaviors most critical to performance).
  2. Ensure that interventions have sufficient reach across the organization.
  3. Design for transfer of learning, encouraging everyone to practice new leadership behaviors.
  4. Use system reinforcement to lock in change by encouraging top leaders to model behavior as coaches.

Given the challenges we face in offering effective training, we recently started to explore how we could refresh our use of technology to teach leadership in conjunction with coaching and workshops. We were looking for options to accelerate the leader’s learning process and to offer a broad range of tools for different learning styles. Using a robust tool, you can re-think what is possible and what you might do to address gaps in leadership training, including designing for learning transfer, focusing on the behaviors most critical to performance, reaching across the organization and reinforcing using leaders who model behavior. Here are three examples.

1. Hybrid Training Programs

Use a combination of in-person sessions and online exercises to build a pipeline for senior roles. Find an online platform that allows you to deliver training that integrates structured exercises, case studies and audio interviews, curated to match the participant group. One of the key objectives of the in-person sessions can be to learn new skills and build a network, while the online content can accelerate skill integration into leadership behaviors. This approach is a time- and cost-effective approach that allows leaders to balance in-person time with self-study and you to track engagement with the materials.

2. Hybrid Leadership Coaching Programs

Hybrid leadership coaching can offer a series of exercises that help participants build self-awareness, knowledge and skills, such as watching videos featuring executives discussing their successes or listening to interviews with global thought leaders. The program can be purchased off the shelf or tailored to your organization, designed to meet your goals and leveraging actual projects so participants can practice the behaviors. The senior leadership team can participate in this program to model the behaviors and demonstrate their commitment to learning.

3. Stand-Alone Programs

Stand-alone programs are valuable across a range of applications, from onboarding new employees to teaching basic skills, such as giving feedback. Expand how you use these programs by including leadership development; much of the development process involves learning about leadership and experimenting with new leadership behaviors within the workplace. For participants working for organizations that do not provide a robust leadership development program, and for participants who want to build leadership capacity to secure professional development credits to maintain certifications or professional designations, approved programs can be quite valuable. Each module can include application activities designed for the audience and include learning assessments. An online platform offers the ability to customize materials for specific groups to ensure the content is context-specific.

I often talk about how the most effective leaders act like scientists. Use these tips to experiment with how you deliver leadership development that is easy for the user to engage with, offers high-impact training at a reasonable price and helps leaders change their behaviors to become more effective.