Major companies are pursuing key themes in the development of their leaders. To maximize the link between leadership capabilities and strategy execution, leader-led development is being used to engage senior executives in the training and coaching of the next generation of leadership. The use of team business projects during leadership programs focuses participants on strategy execution while solving real-time problems and challenges. Also, a learning continuum for leadership development is being pursued by most organizations as they have found that the need to embed behavioral change and new strengths and perspectives requires more than a one-week event. Finally, the importance of selected external partners is seen as a critical cornerstone.
To accomplish this intensive, ongoing leadership development over a period of time with busy, geographically dispersed executives and leaders is a daunting task. However, organizations that have used e-learning in a blended model for leadership development have found that this approach supports:
- Leveraging the time executives have available to engage in learning.
- Virtual teamwork on business and individual projects.
- Online coaching and mentoring by senior executives.
- Online collaboration promoting post-program virtual work.
- Enhancing the quality of the learning experience.
- Reducing costs.
Design and development of blended leadership programs is definitely a new competency for program designers and business schools. Figure 1 shows an example of the activity flow of a blended leadership program. A blended model of learning uses an engaging combination of self-paced e-learning, face-to-face and experiential learning, live e-learning classes, assessments, readings, coaching, project teamwork and online collaboration and sharing of best practices. Participant engagement and progress is closely monitored by a learning program manager who facilitates the learning process, provides constant feedback and guidance, and reports on progress made to the participant’s executive counselor.
One of the advantages of this design is that the leadership program is not just an “event”; rather, it can be a one- or two-year leadership development continuum by leadership level.
A number of new blended leadership programs have been designed and implemented successfully by enterprises and business schools. I strongly believe that blended leadership programs have a great future.
Nick van Dam is chief learning officer for Deloitte Consulting and has held a variety of global learning and human resources development roles throughout his career in different countries. He is author of “The E-Learning Fieldbook,” published by McGraw-Hill. For more information, e-mail Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.